Should your candidates face psychometric tests?

Here’s what these assessments reveal about prospective leaders, and what happens if you try to trick the test

Should your candidates face psychometric tests?
If a hire’s ever wangled their way into your company by overselling their abilities before later being revealed as a charlatan, this test might prove a useful tool for your hiring managers.

Psychometric testing can help weed out those trickster candidates, by assessing their personality and aptitude for the job.

And, reassuringly, it’s much harder than you think to try and fool these tests.

Here, Katherine Vanderberg and Salina Williams of Feldman Daxon Partners explain everything HR professionals need to know about psychometric testing – and what it can turn up about a candidate.

HRD: What applications does psychometric testing have in recruiting?
Psychometric testing for recruiting talent measures behavioural style, strengths and attributes as related to the requirements of a specific role, its challenges and the working environment. Other psychometric assessments such as the Hogan Business Reasoning Inventory and the Watson Glaser measure for critical thinking skills which assess for numerical, verbal and abstract reasoning skills. Psychometric testing for recruiting does not focus on technical competencies but rather on overall fit with the role and organization.

HRD: What can testing reveal about a person, and how does this add an extra layer to traditional recruiting?
Testing validates behavioural attributes such as organizational work style, work setting preferences, working relationships as well as critical reasoning. Testing provides in-depth information about an individual’s ability to perform effectively in the context of the role they are being considered for [and] identifies a candidate’s potential derailers that may be overlooked in the interview and reference check process.

HRD: How does the testing ensure the right person is in the right job?
The assessor’s knowledge and understanding of the context of the role is key to ensure testing identifies that the right person is in the right role. An assessor conducts a pre-consultation meeting with the hiring manager and HR to fully understand the context of the role including key objectives and challenges of the position, environment and organizational structure. With this information, the assessor can more accurately measure for potential fit.

HRD: Who’s using the tests, and for what types of roles?
Based on our experience, organizations in both the private and public sector are using psychometric assessments for both leadership development and recruiting typically at the manager level and up.

HRD: How are the tests conducted?
Most often, psychometric assessments are completed online. In addition, the assessor conducts a 1 to 1.5-hour in-person assessment interview with the candidate to validate the assessment findings.

Once completed, the assessor analyzes the results from both the testing and the interview, and prepares a summary report identifying key themes, strengths and derailers. The assessor conducts an in-person de-brief with the hiring manager, and in some cases, HR as well. This debrief provides an opportunity for the manager to probe and ask questions regarding the results and the potential success for the candidate in the role.

HRD: Can a candidate trick the test by saying what they think the employer wants to know, rather than how they really feel?
No, not if the process is conducted by an experienced assessor who utilizes three to four different psychometric assessments to ensure validity and reliability, mining for relevant themes and patterns as related to the role. In addition, the assessor meets with the candidate for an assessment interview to validate the objective data.

Assessment tools have varying levels of reliability and validity and it is important to note that the accuracy rate is never 100 percent. Personality is far too complex. The assessor’s role is to interpret the information from all the assessments, including the interview, and identify key themes and inconsistencies.

HRD: How important is psychometric testing in the recruiting or identification of leaders, and what does it reveal about leadership?
Psychometric testing information is helpful for new role integration as it informs the organization on effective ways to integrate a new leader into the organization and identifies areas of development to coach them on to ensure their success.

Psychometric testing reveals leadership needs and preferences in key areas including communication, detail, structure, autonomy, and collaboration.

HRD: How do companies apply the results? Is testing the deciding factor in hiring?
Based on our experience, testing does become a key deciding factor in hiring. However, we strongly recommend that testing be one component of the recruitment process balanced with thorough behavioural-based interviews and references.

Related stories:
How to catch a liar at the office
Should you just “trust your gut” in job interviews?

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