Psychometric tests and quality recruitment

The impact of psychometric tests on recruitment
Thinking outside the box-ticking

At all levels, recruitment can be costly and time-consuming. As such, employers understandably aim to maximise the benefits and minimise the frequency of the recruitment process. For the same reasons, improved staff retention is one of the highest priorities for our clients. For recruiters too, it is a sign of a successful hire, since strong retention strategy starts at the recruitment phase when companies look for compatible values in candidates alongside role-related skills.

Core competencies are the focal point during most recruitment processes, tested through competency-based interview techniques or by the assignment of practical projects. However, an increasing number of companies, particularly larger ones, have started to adopt psychometric tests to assess more elusive aspects of a candidate, such as behavioural traits, motivations, cultural values, work ethic, personality, and attitude. Together, these qualities make themselves evident within successful and resilient companies via the strength of direction, connection, alignment, attitude and performance of their teams.

Psychometric tests are a standard and scientific method to measure individuals’ mental capabilities and behavioural traits. Put simply, they seek to measure one’s mind. Broadly, psychometric tests involve ability/aptitude and personality tests but, depending on the company/industry, tests can be designed to focus on specific areas. The more targeted tests allow employers to assess candidates’ intelligence via tests of numerical, logical and abstract reasoning, while the more general tests give insight into candidates’ reactions to specific situations, their strengths and weaknesses, their fit with members of a team, and  their overall likelihood of success within a specific company setup.

With remote recruitment becoming increasingly common and cost-cutting becoming a priority, companies have started to shift their approach in order to minimise the complexity of the process while maximising their outcomes. A survey conducted by the Institute of Student Employers showed that only 30% of companies adopted face-to-face interviews in the initial stage of graduate recruitment last year, while 59% adopted psychometric tests and 10% employed gamified assessment.

The adoption of psychometric tests as an alternative or as an integrative approach to recruitment has become an asset, not only from a cost and time perspective, but also in the quality of the recruitment processes.

Psychometrics have been shown to have significant advantages over other selected recruitment methods. As previously mentioned, psychometric testing grants the possibility of a 360° screening of a candidate’s profile including their competencies, values, personality, attitude, and work ethic. Employers can then make more confident and tailored decisions, while protecting and developing the culture of their workplace, ensuring that the candidate is an appropriate fit for the work environment as well as the role.

Secondly, the adoption of psychometric testing arguably also favours a fairer recruitment process. The tests benchmark candidates according to specific standards and, due to the nature of their standardised approach, reduce the risk of unconscious bias.

A further advantage to psychometric testing is its ability to give candidates the opportunity to gain a better insight into themselves both in terms of how well suited they might be for a specific role, but also in terms of their more general strengths and weaknesses. This can potentially give rise to a candidate’s increased self-awareness and improved selection of potential future job opportunities.

Most importantly, employers are beginning to acknowledge how psychometric testing can predict future performance (49% in 2010, 57% in 2016), thereby allowing companies to confidently guide the development of their business through people.

Psychometric testing does have its critics, however. On the cons, Ritesh C. says,

‘Psychometric tests often contain biases that disadvantage people who have different cultural backgrounds, language barriers, psychological dispositions and even anxiety around testing. They may well be the best candidate for the job but are eliminated by the recruitment process. Given the importance of diversity, non-discrimination and ethical business practices in today’s world, you should carefully consider using psychometrics, lest you suddenly discover a legal ‘giant’ chasing you back down the beanstalk.’

He further recommends that ‘if you are going to use psychometrics as part of your recruitment process, it’s best not to rely on one test or to put too much weight on a single result. Use a battery of tests and combine the results with interviews, role-playing exercises and reference checks.’

Despite psychometrics still being perceived as a dark horse in recruitment, it has quickly become a widespread approach to recruitment where time and costs are minimised, while still providing an informative service. The nature of psychometrics encourages consistency and standardisation in recruitment, protecting decision-making from some common biases. Psychometric testing provides a previously-untapped well of information, and in combination with traditional recruitment techniques, it may help to ensure that the direction, connection, alignment, attitude and performance of a team is consistently improved.


Sophia Garibaldi

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Martin Tripp Associates is a London-based executive search consultancy. While we are best-known for our work across the mediainformationtechnologycommunications and entertainment sectors, we have also worked with some of the world’s biggest brands on challenging senior positions. Feel free to contact us to discuss any of the issues raised in this blog.