Psychometric testing: Time for a reality check

by Cameron Edmond18 Sep 2013

The reliance of employers on psychometric testing as a primary recruitment method is growing, as the results of the tests are believed to determine the candidate chosen 60% of the time.

In reality, this should be lower than 50%, according to Paul Barbaro, executive general manager for recruitment firm Lloyd Morgan.

Barbaro says that the diminishment of hiring opportunities has resulted in employers over-analysing their candidates in fear of making the wrong hire, and are falling back on the results of psychometric tests.

“One of the biggest challenges facing recruitment firms today,” he said, “is to convince employers about the need to place considerable value on applicant’s resumes, interviews and references to substantially increase the chances of the right fit between job expectation and candidate placed.”

Barbaro warned that while psychometric tests have been proven to reduce new recruitment turnover (by “about 47%”), the results are often misunderstood or interpreted, which leads to poor hires in the long run.

The tests may cover aptitude, personality and skills, varying in complexity and depth – but they are unable to measure the ability to perform in a chosen role. As such, these tests – while useful – should be balanced against the traditional methods of assessing experience, interview performance and reference checks.

Barabaro recommends a balance between psychometric testing and traditional recruitment. Following the tried-and-true method of determining the abilities, interests, traits, skills and experience necessary before starting the search is important. Psychometric testing should enter the process between the first and second interview.

“After the first interview, the testing will then measure an individual’s ‘fit’ to the role, identifies areas of potential concern, including any barriers to success, and provides customised behavioural interview questions to assist the interviewers to make better hiring decisions,” he stated.

However, other experts have pointed to psychometric testing as a vital tool in the post-GFC climate.  Jeremy Nichols of Chandler Macleod Group discussed the benefits of psychometric testing with HCTV.


Do you use psychometric testing? Do you agree that it is over-used? How do you fit it into your recruitment process?



  • by MrD 18/09/2013 3:53:34 PM

    A couple of years ago I was working on a temporary basis for a large Federal government department. Out of the 50 or so colleagues who were also in the same team as myself, I was consistently one of the highest achievers, and regularly applied skills that were beyond my job role to other areas of the business. For my efforts, I received a commendation from an assistants to the commissioner of the department. I was well liked by colleagues and management.

    When a permanent position became available (at the same level and performing the same duties as my temporary position), I jumped at the opportunity and applied for it.

    The second stage of the recruitment process was purely psychometric testing. My psychometric test results indicated that I was not suitable for the position. Without considering any other means, I was removed from the recruitment process. While the department may have settled on some good candidates, without tooting my own horn too much, I honestly believe they missed out on at least one exceptional candidate.

    I've since moved on from that position, and now have a management position where I've been involved in recruiting staff of my own. I can now see how difficult it is to select a candidate from a short conversation, a resume and some reference checks - particularly when you have the volume of applicants that the government department would have had.

    I can now see value in the use of psychometric testing as a means of evaluating candidates, but I firmly believe that psychometric testing should only ever augment more traditional recruitment tasks, rather than being a sole deciding factor.

  • by RivercityIR 19/09/2013 7:06:22 AM

    Biggest load of nonsense since the Church of Scientology.

  • by Chris Golis 19/09/2013 8:15:19 AM

    Appointing the first level supervisor or foreman is probably the most critical decision an organisation faces after appointing the CEO.
    There is no track record to judge how you will perform as a manager. So the use of psychometric testing prevails.

    However you should be able to ask the organisation what potential deficiencies were uncovered during your test and what training you should undertake to improve your competencies.

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