Are psychometric assessments worth it?

One organisational and industrial psychologist explains the pros and cons of the popular but controversial recruitment tool

Are psychometric assessments worth it?
HR
professionals are often split when it comes to psychometric assessments – do they annoy candidates and offer little insight or do they provide employers with a deeper understanding of a perspective new hire? Now, one industry expert is weighing in, explaining the pros and cons of the controversial recruitment tool.

“If you use a personality assessment that is robust and well-validated, you will have access to information that will allow you to make a more factual decision,” says K3 Consulting’s organisational and industrial psychologist Pip Turner.

“Discussions about a potential candidate’s personality and culture fit are always going to be more susceptible to bias – whether that’s unconscious or otherwise – and there is a temptation to listen to your gut feeling but that’s not going to give you an accurate measure about how well they’ll align with your values,” she continues.

“However, with assessments, HR can make a decision which is based on a candidate’s traits, how they’re reporting their preferences, what motivates them and what they consider to be a good fit with their values – it takes a lot of the guess work out of it, basically.”

Another key benefit, according to Turner, is the increased accuracy that comes with psychometric assessments.

“Aptitude assessments have consistently shown to be one of the most accurate measures for workplace performance so using a standardised ability assessment gives you a way to very fairly assess a candidate against work relevant capabilities,” she tells HRD.

“If you’re assessing abilities that match your right profile and your job specification, you can remain objective, you can take that guess work out and you can stop individual interpretations or subjective feelings from influencing hiring decisions.”

Finally, Turner says psychometric assessments can also speed up the entire recruitment process.
“If you’ve got an HR manager position to fill for instance, you might be looking for someone who is quite socially astute with well-developed communication skills and strong sense of personal integrity but those traits can be quite hard to assess in interviews,” she says.

“But if you do a personality assessment, you can see where they sit on those dimensions and the extent to which they are going to demonstrate those sorts of behaviours and preferences in practice,” she continues.

“It allows you to speed it all up – the shortlisting process, the decision-making process – by allowing you to collect pretty significant amounts of information about a person or a group of people in a very short space of time.”

However, while Turner is a proponent of psychometric assessments, she also acknowledges some down-sides.

“It can be really tempting to expect psychometric tests to do everything for you, including making the selection decision for you, but that’s not how they work,” she says.

“Yes, they are strong predictors of performance and job success and they are some of the best tools you can use to inform your decision but there’s no such thing as a perfect selection tool so the responsibility for the selection decision still lies with HR and the hiring manager,” she continues.

“Businesses need to be really careful that they don’t base their entire decision on the results of assessments alone. They really do need to be considered as a complementary part of a very robust recruitment process – one that already includes structured behavioural interviewing, standardised reference checks and other objective sources of information”.


Related stories:
How can you tell if an employee has high potential?
IRD faces court fight over psychometric tests
 

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