Introduction to Psychometric Testing
The purpose of this blog is to address various issues around employment and recruitment for employers looking to employ young people, whether they be school leavers looking to embark on an apprenticeship, for example, or students looking for seasonal jobs and part time work, or even university leavers hoping to get started on their graduate career ladder.
At all levels, recruitment can often be a timely and costly process – so, for employers, once new recruits have entered the company, improved staff retention is always a high priority. Over previous posts, I have written about various recruitment strategies that companies can consider, both for attracting the most suitable candidates to apply for jobs and for giving yourself the best chance of making sure your best young talent sticks around once they are working for you.
In this article, we will look at psychometric testing and its advantages for employers when they are looking to recruit new staff. If you are part of a larger company, the chances are you are already making use of psychometric tests as part of your graduate recruitment process – these days, larger companies are spending millions on getting their test completely customised to suit particular roles – and you may already have seen positive results in employing the staff most suited to your company’s culture. If you are not already making use of psychometric tests as part of your recruitment strategy, they could be worth thinking about.
Obviously, we are not saying psychometric tests are the be all and end all which can take the place of all the other recruitment strategies that you might already have in place. Indeed, some people debate their usefulness, at all, but for many companies who have incorporated this method, they say they get a more objective, overall picture of their candidates rather than relying on their own personal views.
Where psychometric testing has been employed as a tool for recruiting the best young talent into a company, those companies also use other means of deciding whether an applicant is suitable for both the job and the company. Depending on the size of the company, this can be application forms, outside references, exam results, covering letters, interviews and assessments centres.
So, let’s take a look at what psychometric testing is and why, if you are not already using it in your company for graduate and other types of recruitment, it could be advantageous for you.
What Does Psychometric Testing Measure?
First of all, if you are going to be asking job applicants to complete psychometric tests as part of their application process, you need to know what these tests are measuring. How do you know which candidates are best suited to your job vacancies?
Although psychometric testing measures a candidate in a variety of areas, the basic umbrella definition of psychometric testing is that it is a measurement of the mind.
Depending on the nature of your company and the industry you are involved with you might put more emphasis on one area of psychometric testing over another but generally speaking, psychometric tests measure:
- Ability / Aptitude
Within these tests, you will get an idea of your candidate’s abilities, of how they work in given situations, what their strengths and weaknesses are and how they relate to other team members. Rather than just relying on the candidate’s appearance, exam results or previous experience, you can get a picture of whether a person will thrive within your company set up.
The ability and aptitude tests will give you an overall snapshot of an applicant’s ability and intelligence via numerical, logical and abstract testing whilst the personality test will give you an idea of how your candidate’s deal with certain situations.
So what are the advantages of psychometric testing for employers when recruiting graduates, school leavers and even students? Let’s take a look.
The Advantages Of Psychometric Testing For Employers
Companies of all sizes can utilise psychometric testing
Psychometric testing does not necessarily need to be reserved for larger corporations looking to recruit graduates. SMEs can use the method, too, as part of their overall recruitment strategies. Whilst it is important to make sure candidates are being tested for the right traits, small and medium enterprises might not necessarily tailor tests quite as much as larger companies. Rather, they can be used to give a more general idea of candidates’ abilities and personality.
Psychometric testing means you are not relying solely on interviews
Of course, interviews – and asking the right interview questions – are crucial to any company’s recruitment strategy but if you are in charge of recruitment for your firm, you’ll know that interviews don’t always go according to plan when you are looking to employ the most suitable students, school leavers or graduates within your company.
- Some candidates could be absolutely perfect for your job but they just don’t interview well. This could be because of nerves, because of a lack of previous interview practice, or the candidate might just be having a bad day.
- On the other side of the coin, some candidates could have lots of confidence or be well versed in the art of interviews and will offer a whole range of well rehearsed answers to your questions. Does this necessarily mean that person is the best fit for your vacancies?
Recruitment is all about filling your vacancies with the right people for the job and, on their own, interviews do not measure capability. Psychometric testing gives you a benchmark where you can compare results against other candidates who have applied and also previous candidates who might be thriving within your company. Introducing this type of test means you don’t need to sit and rack your brains, trying to remember everything that each candidate said in interview.
Psychometric testing saves employers time and money
Recruiting new staff can take up a lot of valuable time and can also prove costly, especially if the best young talent isn’t found straight away. Psychometric testing can save employers both time and money because, if it is used at the beginning of the application process, it means you are not sifting through a mountain of application forms sent in by people who might not be the best person for the job. If you work for, or own, a company where competition for jobs is high and hundreds or thousands of applicants apply for your roles, you will appreciate effective filtering methods such as this.
If you’ve written a great job advert that is going to tempt all those students and graduates towards your company, psychometric tests used early in the application process means you can quickly identify those young people who will best fit your company both through their abilities and their personality. In this way, psychometric testing can contribute to much more efficient recruitment because you are only taking those most suited to your company to the next stage of the application process.
Psychometric testing provides a true picture of candidates
Psychometric testing gives a good overall picture of your candidates – they give an idea of the candidate’s personality what makes them tick and how they prefer to work in given situations; how they work under pressure, for example, and how they work alone or as part of a team.
The very nature of psychometric tests is that they are difficult to game so the results you get from each test should be true results in that they show you what your candidates are really like in the workplace. This means you will also know not only their abilities but how well they are going to get along with other employees within your company.
Psychometric testing is fair for your candidates as well as for you
Psychometric testing offer a standardised approach to recruitment and it is fair for candidates because they all go through exactly the same testing process. If you have done interviews in the past, perhaps you have had days where you are not feeling to well or you feel a bit fatigued. This means students and graduates who apply for your job vacancies might not be getting the same type of interview as the candidates who were interviewed the day before, for example.
Psychometric testing also helps candidates to better judge themselves. It could be that a graduate who was very keen on your role realises their key strengths actually lie elsewhere so they can save you time and money by not pursuing their application. If you have found their personality really suits your company, however, you might be able to make use of the candidate’s new found strengths elsewhere in the company. In this way, psychometric testing can be a win win situation.
Psychometric testing can be used at any stage of the application process
A further advantage to psychometric testing for employers is that they can be slotted in at any time during the application process. Depending on the size and nature of your company, they can be used right at the beginning in the form of a fun questionnaire or they can be slotted in at various times during the day at assessment centres, for example. Some companies even run two lots of psychometric testing, at the beginning and the end of the process, just to compare the results and double check they are employing the right person.
Psychometric testing is about measuring skills and abilities, not just education
When it comes to recruitment strategies, many companies still place a lot of emphasis on education and academic achievement, as well as any previous work experience. Whilst this is valuable to a certain extent, psychometric testing can be used to plug a gap in that academic achievements are not going to give you a complete picture of what your applicants are actually capable of in the place of work.
Depending on the nature of your company, psychometric testing can give a chance to school leavers and graduates who might not have work experience or particularly fantastic grades but you might find, however, that these applicants are more than capable of doing the job you have on offer and they would shine within your company. Exam results alone cannot show you whether a candidate is going to thrive within your company and drive it forward in the future but psychometric testing measures these abilities.
Again, we can go to the flip side of the coin here because another advantage of psychometric testing for employers is that it can reveal to you if a candidate is over qualified for the role they are applying for. When you are recruiting new staff, obviously, the aim is to have the best talent stick around to contribute to the future success of the company. If a candidate who is overqualified for the role is offered the job then that person is soon going to become bored and unfulfilled in the workplace and, chances are, they will soon have itchy feet and want to move on. This is clearly not good for your staff retention and you will have to go through the whole recruitment process all over again; time and money that can be better used elsewhere in the company.
Can protect and develop the culture of your workplace
Recruitment is not just about hiring young people who have demonstrated they can do the job. Whilst this is obviously a key requirement, you also need to know how well the candidate will fit in with the rest of the team already working for you and how they will operate within your company’s culture. Someone who prefers to work alone in a quiet atmosphere, for example, is not going to feel fulfilled or work to their full potential if your company thrives in a fast moving environment which relies heavily on teamwork.
Psychometric testing can help do this both with the personality test and the other tests because you will get an idea of how that person works and what motivates them.
Also, staff retention can be a problem for companies of all sizes but psychometric testing becomes an advantage for employers because, in theory, the test results will guide you in employing the right person for the job – someone who is going to feel challenged and fulfilled whilst also thriving in your company’s culture, whatever type of culture that may be.
Depending on the size of your company and the amount of money you have available for staff recruitment, psychometric tests can be customised to meet your company’s specific requirements and complement other parts of the recruitment process so that you can maintain the company’s culture. As a recruiter you obviously want to find people who share your company’s values and who will strengthen that culture rather than go against it or weaken it.
Psychometric testing encourages consistency in recruitment
Last, but certainly not least, is the advantage that psychometric tests encourage consistency and standardisation when when you are looking to hire new staff. As I said above, every candidate is given exactly the same tests and you can use this as a benchmark.
Whilst other aspects of recruitment and your company’s application process are certainly valid, references are from outside your company and a candidate’s previous workplace might not have had the same values as your own workplace. The previous company might also have been looking for different requirements from their employee.
Covering letters and CVs, whilst they offer clues about previous experience, employment and achievements, are always carefully prepared and have usually been checked and double-checked. These can only offer a clue as to how your candidates will operate in your particular environment.
Psychometric testing removes bias from that area of your recruitment strategy.
How To Get The Best Out Of Psychometric Testing For The Benefit Of Your Company And Your Job Candidates
So, now we’ve looked at all the advantages of psychometric testing for employers, let’s summarise and take a quick look at some points to note if you want to implement this method to your recruitment process. Although psychometric testing is a scientific process, it is not a faultless system so here are some points to bear in mind:
- As a recruiter or employer, you need to be able to utilise psychometric properly and be fully aware of what particular tests are showing you. The tests must be suitable for your company, otherwise the results you get will be interpreted incorrectly and you will end up with the wrong people in the wrong jobs. This is not good for your staff retention and not good for the candidates involved.
- Where possible, allow for nerves from your candidates. Depending on the type of company you are, your job might be the dream job for some of your applicants and their nerves could be getting in the way of them completing tests quickly and efficiently. Psychometric testing is indeed scientific and standardised – but human beings are human beings.
- Allow for the fact that some candidates might not have any previous experience of psychometric testing. For graduate careers, chances are, most of your applicants have had quite a bit of preparation and practice. However, some candidates will be facing this system for the first time and will have no idea what to expect.
So the key to getting the most out of psychometric testing and making sure that there are advantages for you as an employer is to make sure you don’t rely solely on that one method. Have psychometric as a part of your recruitment strategy that works alongside your other methods. There is a lot to be said for gut instinct so if you have a candidate that might not have performed so well in some areas of the test but their application form and references are impressive and you really liked them in interview, allow that to be a part of your decision to employ someone or not.
Psychometric testing can be very a very valuable part of your recruitment strategy when utilised to complement more traditional methods of recruitment.