Psychometrics have been around for decades to give employers extra information when deciding who to hire or promote. And the use of such assessments is still on the up.

More and more companies are realising the value that standardised assessment can bring. The latest cut-e Assessment Barometer (2016) showed that the upward trend of the use of psychometric assessment continues; up by 18% in the two preceding years. 

So what is it that makes HR, recruitment and talent decision-makers turn to psychometric tools when there is so much pressure on budgets, time and energy? This is a list of ten (well, actually 11) indisputable truths about psychometrics. 

What is a psychometric test and what does it measure?

 A psychometric test is an objective, standard, reliable and valid assessment capable of differentiating between applicants. Psychometric assessments measure the skills, abilities, attributes or personality characteristics of an individual.

Truth #1

Psychometrics counterbalance human nature.

Most people aren’t great at choosing other people. We all think that we’re great at judging character. Did you know that the likelihood of a hiring manager making a poor decision lies at 50%? Or that only 14% of unstructured job interviews actually predict top talent? Or that 99% of candidates are hired based on first impressions?

stats that show how important pychometrics is for recruitment processes


The trouble is, we’re not good judges of character. More than half of marriages end in divorce. That is a costly ratio if we choose our recruits in the same way. But the good news is that we can compensate human nature far better if we add psychometrics to the mix.

But why are we so poor at doing this on our own? The reason is bias. We bring our own biases to the table when making decisions – including hiring decisions. 

Some of the classic examples of bias are:

  • Confirmation bias – we downplay or ignore anything that contradicts our preconceived ideas
  • Attribution bias – certain attributes dictate skills
  • Affinity bias – we ascribe positive attributes or infer greater potential to someone because they remind us of ourselves
  • Anchoring bias – we give more weight to things than they merit
  • Halo and horns bias – we are over-reliant on first impressions

3 examples of bias in a recruitment process: confirmation, attribution, affinity

 

Psychometric assessments help reduce bias because, by definition, they are objective. They give your decision making a robust foundation.

Truth #2

Psychometric tests predict job performance. Period.

A business impact study will define the very specific mix of characteristics that leads to success in your organisation. And once you know that, it’s a short step to pinpointing the assessment mix that will give you that profile picture of each applicant. 

Some examples of the results that psychometrics can achieve include:

  • Uplift of 12.5% of sales per hour in new hires after two months at Sunglass Hut
  • ‘High match’ employees deliver 36% more revenue and 42% more profit than ‘low match’ employees at Dell
  • 8% uplift in sales commission at localsearch
     

Truth #3

Strong psychometrics are legally defensible. 

Valid psychometric assessments are built on a foundation of the science behind behaviour and capability measurement. And this means that each test has a body of evidence behind it from its reliability and dependability over time, its consistency in how it is scored and its ability to benchmark and compare between people. Take all this together, and you have robust evidence to inform your decision making. 

Reputable test suppliers have research teams staffed by psychologists and statisticians. They not only work to develop and refine new tests, but continually gather – and publish – data real-world test use. It means they investigate e.g. gender or other group differences in test scores and help clients understand their own data. 

Real-life examples:

  • Proved scientifically that the assessments used are gender neutral, fair and objective – Credit Suisse
  • Introduced an assessment process in ‘safe mode’ to review how the tests functioned across different applicant groups. No adverse impact was found - Outcome Health
     

Truth #4

Psychometric assessments are resource savers (yes, really!).

Psychometric assessments save time, energy and heartache. They speed up time-to-hire by helping you focus on the very best, very quickly. And they reduce hiring manager time spent in interviews with poor quality candidates.

There have been some dramatic results reported by organisations: 

  • Saving of 5 hours of recruitment time per hire at Elkjøp
  • 50% reduction in hiring manager time spent in interviews at Outcome Health
  • Reduced time-to-hire by 30% at Vodafone
  • Slashed number of days needed to find 50 suitable candidates from 8.5 days to 0.5 days at Dubai Duty Free
     

Truth #5

Psychometrics reduce staff turnover and predict tenure.

Getting better-fit employees leads to stronger employee engagement and less likelihood of leaving. 

Some examples of what this can mean to businesses: 

  • Prediction of those who will stay beyond the initial four-month time-to-competence period - Securitas Direct
  • Knowledge of the behavioural characteristics and values of those likely to stay with the business – and those likely to leave - Jurys Inn 
  • Understanding that the top 10% of scorers on personality and cognitive ability assessments are 130% more likely to stay beyond the average tenure - Transcom
     

Truth #6

Psychometric assessments are brand enhancers. 

Tests and assessments give you robust information to supplement your decision making. But they also say something about your company. Tests which are leading edge and really show the job and your organisation in the right light and help to differentiate you as an employer – just as sleek, integrated processes and feedback do. But get it wrong, and your use of assessment may be a brand detractor! So, choose well. Bear in mind:

The relevance of the content - Alarm bells should be ringing if an ability test is using outdated questions, personality questionnaires are not asking about work behaviour or assessments that bear no resemblance to the job or your company. 

The test taker experience – Make the assessment look great. And work on any device. Work with consultants to design the overall process, where the tests fit in and add most value, and where decisions are made. Look at psychometrics that can be used on a smartphone, tablet and desktop. Think about integration with your ATS to provide a secure, single sign-on experience. And make sure you can add your own logo, colour palette and customised content. 

Act quickly – Make sure the results you get from your tests mean you can make decisions quickly – whether it’s sifting out those unsuitable for the role – or homing in on the best people. Don’t risk your competitor being faster than you…

Engage, engage, engage – How you treat your candidates says a lot about your organisation. Psychometric tools give you the information to manage expectations with your applicants – and the opportunity to engage with them. 

Make it cool – Latest developments in psychometrics mean that great assessments are now capable of being completed on a mobile, via video or set within your own business using your own real-world scenarios and examples. 

Some real-world examples of what this can look like: 

  • Transforming attraction and application process to attract a younger, digitally-savvy applicant by devising a web-based attraction game and an online assessment process – Vodafone 
  • Online, messaging-format assessment developed for a mobile device. Different, innovative, accurate and a great candidate engager - Rolls-Royce 
  • Paperless assessment centre which sets the business apart and used to spot the highest potential candidates - Nationwide 
     

Truth #7

Psychometric tools can showcase a job role.

Realistic job previews and situational judgement tests give you as an employer an insight into the potential candidate – and they’re also great at showing what the job is about. Work with a test developer to create your very own tool, using your real-world situations and see how your applicants react. And make sure it’s able to be delivered on a smartphone. 
 

  • Realistic job preview of its cabin crew role - ‘Try before you fly’ - to help would-be applicants better understand the job - easyJet
  • Situational judgement test and in-store technology-based assessment centres upped the quality of candidates – O2
  • Realistic job preview and situational judgement test to give an insight into the store sales role at Sunglass Hut

 

3 examples of psychometric realistic job previews: Sunglass Hut, Lidl, flydubai

Truth #8

Psychometric tests identify the right talent for YOUR business (and no one else’s).  

As an organisation, you have your own specific values, competencies and business strategy. Who you’re looking for is likely to be different from what other companies value. Modern psychometrics let you focus in on the specific skills, abilities and characteristics that you need. Create your own profile – and tailor your assessment to fit this. 
 

  • Top sales performers deliver 50% more sales revenue than the average sales person in Elkjøp stores 
  • 82% of those likely to be low performers filtered out of selection process early on - localsearch 
  • The very specific behavioural and values set for its seasonal employees is assessed through a custom-built bespoke situational judgement test and an ‘audition’ (interview) at Parks & Resorts
     

Truth #9

Psychometrics empower your local decision makers.  

You may have local business managers reviewing applications, interviewing and making the decisions. But it’s not the key focus of their job. And you’ll want to help them be consistent, be objective and ask the right questions. Psychometrics help you to support them. Standard online assessment takes the hassle out of testing and scoring and, if you’ve developed a profile of the characteristics you need, can screen out quickly those not suited. Candidate reports and tailored interview guides make it easy for your local managers to be prepared for the interview, and to ask the most relevant questions. They’ll thank you for that!
 

  • Design of a single, easy-to-understand assessment matrix, a single process and single report to support selection and promotion for a range of job roles at Ericsson 
  • Reduction in time taken to identify 50 candidates from 8.5 days to 0.5 days thanks to standard assessment process and specific interview guides at Dubai Duty Free
  • Consistency of hiring manager interviews helped by company-specific interview guide mapped against the five key behavioural characteristics of commercial success at Dell 
     

Truth #10

Psychometric tests have come of age 

Years ago psychometrics were the domain of psychologists – theorists in ivory towers. Psychometrics have been transformed; enhanced user-experience through shorter and engaging tests, highly relevant to the job in question, optimised for smartphone use to appeal to everyone.  And the transformation is not yet complete…. AI is being trained to support in scoring, interpretation and decision making – all legally defensible, when done well.

 

Truth #11:

Psychometric quality can be spotted (and you can do it!)

10 undisputable truths are simply not enough! The final truth is that the quality of any psychometric assessment can be measured and understood.

Use the list below to check the quality of any assessment.
 

10 questions to spot high quality psychometrics

Is your assessment:

  1. Objective in how it is administered, scored and interpreted?

  2. Reliable, accurate and consistent over time – and offers dependable results?

  3. Valid:does it measure what it is designed to measure?

  4. Differentiating: does a stronger test-taker receive a higher test score than a weaker test-taker?

  5. Providing value for money: Are the costs relatable to a benefit?

  6. Standardised and offers comparison to normative or benchmark groups?

  7. Useful:does the psychometric assessment add clear value to the talent process?

  8. Accepted by the test-takers?

  9. Cheat-resistant? Test-takers must not be able to distort or fake test scores.

  10. Transparent and fair: Is the test and testing process clear and fair to all and do the candidates get appropriate feedback? 

Call us to talk about how we can power your talent strategy with robust psychometrics.

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References

1 Stop being deceived by interview when you're hiring by Don Moore, Forbes, February 7, 2012
2Here's Google's secret to hiring the best people by Laszlo Bock, Wired Magazine, April 7, 2015
3Why job interviews are like flipping a coin by Kristi Hedges, Forbes, May 21, 2015

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