An Introduction to Psychometric Testing for Recruiters

Nikki Vivian
Nikki Vivian

Careers Coach and Writer

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Psychometric Testing for Recruiters

Psychometric testing is widely used in recruitment, particularly for selecting candidates for roles in large multinational companies. Consider it a shortcut to selecting the candidate that is most aligned with your organization in terms of personality, behaviors and competency.

Too often, recruitment can be a costly process, sometimes resulting in the selection of the wrong candidate, who leaves after a short time, forcing the recruitment process to restart. With psychometric testing, there is a higher chance of selecting a candidate that fits.

What is psychometric testing?

Psychometric testing is a scientific method used to test personality traits and cognitive ability to make sure candidates can perform certain roles and tasks. These can be difficult to assess in an interview or through understanding a person’s experience and education alone. Psychometric testing adds an extra element to the recruitment process.

What can psychometric testing measure?

A recruiter can use psychometric tests to assess a range of attributes, including cognitive ability, personal traits, mental health and motivation. The tests are tailored to specific, relevant situations and the results are interpreted by psychologists to make a link between the traits and potential job performance.

Some examples of what may be tested for include leadership skills, ability to work under pressure, teamwork, personality and personal ethics that align with the role or organization.

What types of psychometric tests are there?

Usually, psychometric tests are divided into two categories: personality and aptitude.

Psychometric personality tests, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) demonstrate a candidate’s key personality traits, interests and preferred working style. Overall, personality tests evaluate:

  • Strengths
  • Values
  • Motivations
  • Competencies
  • Development needs

This allows hiring managers to determine whether a candidate would be a good culture fit for their company and if they are suitable for the role.

Meanwhile, psychometric aptitude tests measure cognitive skills, including:

  • Verbal ability: Spelling, grammar and the ability to follow written instructions.
  • Numerical reasoning: Interpreting numerical and statistical data accurately.
  • Spatial reasoning: The ability to manipulate two- and three-dimensional objects, spot patterns between shapes and visualize their movements.
  • Error checking: The capacity to detect errors in a quick and accurate manner.
  • Logical reasoning: Using logic to come to a conclusion and solve different problems by identifying patterns.

What are the advantages of using psychometric testing during?

There are many advantages with aptitude testing of adding another level to the recruitment process and digging a little deeper to ensure you have the right candidate for your organization. Here are our top five:

1. They give more detail

Résumés, applications and interviews alone provide little information about a person’s personality, emotional intelligence and communication style.

Knowing these things allows a recruiter to better understand how a candidate will perform in certain situations, like taking risks, leading a team and working under pressure. This additional information can be invaluable in determining whether a person will be able to do the job in question.

2. They provide a comparison

Psychometric testing provides measurable results, which makes it easier to compare candidates when deciding who would be a better fit for the role. It is easy to filter out candidates with low scores quickly and efficiently.

3. They show if there’s a culture fit

Psychometric tests can give great insight into personality traits and ethics, which can provide information on whether candidates will fit well within an organization. Finding people who share your company values — as well as being completely qualified — can be difficult, but personality and situational judgment tests can combat this.

4. They give insight into future progression

Understanding a person’s motivations, styles and preferences means that it’s possible to make sure working processes suit the candidate long term. The results of psychometric tests can give managers valuable insight into how to maintain job satisfaction.

5. They save time and money

Rather than making costly mistakes by recruiting the wrong candidate, psychometric tests give enough detail for you to make an informed decision during the selection period. Selecting candidates that "fit" means less time is spent re-recruiting and money is not wasted on internal training and onboarding only for that person to be short-lived within the organization.

What are the disadvantages of using psychometric testing?

Every process has some disadvantages to weigh against the advantages. We’ve picked five for you to consider:

1. The pressure may be too much

Whilst psychometric testing is considered an accurate, reliable method of testing candidates, there are factors that can lead to results being skewed. This is particularly true for aptitude tests under timed conditions. In an interview situation, the pressure may become too much for some, leading to underperformance on the day of the test.

2. Candidates may not be truthful

When it comes to questionnaires, it may be the case that candidates are giving answers they think recruiters want to hear rather than being wholly truthful, thus creating a false impression of the candidate. For high-powered positions especially, candidates will most likely be prepared and know what kind of person and values the organization they are applying to is looking for. This could influence their answers as they strive to answer like the ideal candidate.

3. They may be poorly planned

These tests can be highly effective, but only if they’re planned properly. It’s important to know exactly what to measure in order to plan effective assessments that add value and apply to the role in question. To ensure this is the case, recruiters should get advice from a professional psychometric tester.

4. Tests alone are not enough

A psychometric test is a small piece of the puzzle. They are effective, but are not a standalone indicator. For the information they provide to be valuable, it needs to be read in combination with all other data and information taken from the recruitment and interview process.

5. There’s an upfront cost

Whilst it’s agreed that psychometric testing can save time and money in the long run by selecting the right candidate that stays with the organization long term, there is a large upfront cost associated with the process. This is due to the need for tests to be designed, administered and analyzed by professionals in the field. This can mean that for small businesses, the process isn’t possible.

Most of these disadvantages can be overcome with proper planning to ensure relevance, as well as by making sure they are administered by a professional. Using psychometric tests as a part of the recruitment process can help recruiters draw more information from potential candidates, although the tests are not meant to be used alone. That’s part of the reason why it’s important to combine all the information so you can make the right decision for your company.

How accurate is psychometric testing?

Psychometric testing can be an accurate method of determining whether a candidate is a good fit for an organization, providing it is administered properly, giving the correct context to applicants so that the results are relevant. It is advised that tests are designed and given by professionals to ensure their validity.

As there are such a vast array of tests available, it’s especially important to get advice on which tests are going to work for a specific organization. Some tests were not designed for a hiring process but are often used by recruiters with little knowledge. For example, the MBTI is a very well-known test used the world over, however according to the Myers-Briggs Foundation, this is a tool to get a better understanding of a candidate but not as a tool for selection.

Tests also need to be written in a way that overcomes the possibility that candidates may make up their answers to cover what they think a recruiter wants to hear, instead of what is true. Whilst this possibility can’t be eliminated completely, it’s important that psychometric tests are used within a recruitment process as a way to complement other methods so as not to get skewed results. Tests should be used to provide additional data to better inform the hiring process, to add an extra layer of information to be used alongside other methods.

Which platforms can be used to test candidates?

There are many platforms out there that can be used to test candidates, or to give you an overview of the types of career tests available. Here is our pick of four, but these are by no means the only ones available.

1. CareerHunter

This is our very own career test service. CareerHunter helps recruiters find out more in-depth information about potential employees by testing their abstract, numerical and verbal reasoning skills, among others. These tests are designed to evaluate interests, personality, motivations and aptitudes to make sure candidates are the right fit for your organisation.

2. MyPlan

Offering a Career Personality Test, MyPlan help to determine a candidate's workplace strengths, career interests and skills, as well as a test about personal values.

3. Big Five Personality Test

This test accurately measures five personality traits (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism) and matches them to a candidate’s ability to work in a team, under pressure, their levels of stress, their temperament and their self-discipline to provide an insight into career choices. The Big Five Personality Test is available through Truity.

4. Pymetrics

Using neuroscience-based games, Pymetrics measure cognitive and emotional traits and match candidates to a selection of jobs based on their strengths and weaknesses.

5. TestGorilla

Another great platform to screen your candidates during the hiring process is TestGorilla. With this tool, you can curate a range of assessments based on the skills, traits and experience you are looking for in a candidate. You will then have the ability to compare results and select the most suitable person for the job.

How can psychometric tests be used in recruitment?

Psychometric tests are an additional layer to recruitment which can have a significant impact on the overall hiring process.

Avoiding bias

Due to their standardized nature, psychometric tests can help recruiters eliminate biases and base their hiring decisions on facts. As all candidates are subjected to the same test and under the same conditions, the results will indicate who is the most suitable for the role.

Consequently, hiring managers can make an objective decision using this information and ensure that they have selected the most qualified and competent candidate for the job using a fair and standardized process.

Predicting job performance

Through psychometric testing, recruiters can determine how well a candidate will do in their job. By assessing their skills, knowledge, and competence in advance, it becomes easier to determine an individual’s job performance.

Furthermore, through the test results, you may be able to identify areas needing development and training to further optimize the selected candidate’s skills and expertise.

Beyond technical skills, psychometric testing can determine which candidate is the most compatible with the company’s culture and ethos. This also means you’ll be able to identify individuals who will thrive in your organization’s environment and bode well with the existing team.

In the long run, this could lead to a higher retention rate due to your new hire’s compatibility with your company.

Providing accurate feedback to candidates

Using the results of psychometric testing, companies and hiring managers are in a better position to provide accurate feedback to candidates following the interview process.

Indeed, instead of offering generic feedback on things they could have done better to increase their hiring chances, you can simply share a candidate’s results of their test and highlight the parts they could improve on using tangible evidence.

Final thoughts

Psychometric tests are an excellent way of gaining information on candidates that can’t be established through the application and interview process alone. This can be valuable in ensuring that the chosen candidate aligns with your organization. As with anything, results aren’t fool-proof and there is a cost involved, but if tests are selected for relevancy and administrated by a professional, they can be hugely beneficial.

Have you thought about introducing psychometric tests into your recruitment process? Let us know in the comments below!

Originally published on June 14, 2017. Contains contributions from Melina Theodorou.