The role of psychometric assessment in recruitment

Psychometric assessments have become a popular tool for HR professionals to measure and assess the suitability of candidates for roles across a variety of areas and subject matters. Such assessments are designed to provide deeper insights and a level of objectivity during decision-making while recruiting. Their use has become increasingly popular in recent years, in particular at senior management or leadership levels where selecting the right person for the role is imperative.

Across the ever-evolving recruitment and executive search sector, we have seen psychometric assessments develop enormously, with a wide range of methods and tests now available on the market. Today the assessments available largely fall into two types, cognitive ability tests and personality/behavioural assessments. Other assessments include emotional intelligence, situational judgement tests (SJTs) and skills and aptitude tests. All methods provide data that can be used to inform selection decisions in recruitment, with uses such as bias mitigation, and increased insight into personal characteristics desirable for specific roles.

The use of psychometric assessments during the recruitment process can provide a holistic view of a candidate’s potential, which in turn supports overall organisational success through building more effective teams and increased employee retention.

Assessment methods

Cognitive ability: Cognitive ability or IQ (Intelligence Quotient) tests involve evaluating an individual’s intelligence and cognitive abilities and aim to assess abilities such as problem-solving, spatial awareness, memory abstract reasoning, numerical aptitude and verbal reasoning. The data from such tests allows employers to compare candidates objectively and provides a good indicator of a general level of cognitive potential. Research from (The validity and utility of selection methods in personnel psychology: Practical and theoretical implications of 85 years of research findings) has confirmed that general intelligence is a valid predictor of future performance and learning. Popular assessments include the Wonderlic Cognitive Ability Test, Raven’s Progressive Matrices APM-III and the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS).

Emotional intelligence: Emotional Intelligence (EQ) assessment methods are valued highly in today’s recruitment market, with often greater emphasis placed on hiring and promoting individuals who demonstrate high EQ over those with high IQ. EQ refers to an individual’s ability to understand and manage their emotions, as well as recognise and influence the emotions of others. It encompasses qualities such as self-awareness, empathy and interpersonal effectiveness. EQ is a highly sought-after interpersonal skill associated with success in managing stress, leadership, collaborating with others, coaching teams and delivering feedback. Popular EQ tests include the Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i) and the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT).

Personality/Behaviour: These assessments are used to gain insight into a candidate’s traits, behaviours and preferences, including preferred working style, interpersonal dynamics and potential culture fit. Popular tests include the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MTBI), Big Five and DISC Assessment.

Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs): An SJT assesses a candidate’s approach to problem-solving, decision-making and judgement by presenting a realistic work scenario to the candidate and evaluating their approach. Such assessments are helpful in predicting job performance.

Skills and aptitude: Skills and aptitude tests are assessments which are customised for roles requiring a specific skill or aptitude. Conducting these assessments involves identifying the essential skills and competencies required for a role and then selecting the specific tests that will provide the required data. When applied correctly, these can provide a strong indication of a candidate’s potential.


Further considerations

Selecting the right assessment method and tool

With such a range of assessment methods and tools available, it’s necessary for recruiters to carefully consider which tool is appropriate. If the focus is on assessing for specific behaviours, then personality or emotional intelligence tests may provide the insights required. Alternatively, a technical skills and aptitude test may serve best if recruiting for a specific skill. Tools which allow customisation according to specific requirements are also recommended, and in some cases, it may be necessary to use several assessment methods to obtain the insights required.

Over-reliance on psychometric assessments

Research shows that psychometric testing provides the best support for organisations when used in conjunction with other methods of recruiting, such as a structured interview or work sample. A tendency to focus solely on the data provided by assessment tests over other recruitment methods is not recommended. The objective of using an assessment tool needs to be clear, including identifying the metrics which need to be measured in order to access the data required, both for the role and the best fit for the organisation as a whole.

Interpreting psychometric assessments

Training in the correct application of assessment tools is essential for accurate and appropriate interpretation of the data outputs into useful and applicable information relevant to the specifics of the role for which is being recruited. Assessment tools can be time consuming to set up correctly and the data complex to interpret, so we recommend ensuring a recruiter can provide evidence of the necessary training.

How can Forvis Mazars help you?

At Forvis Mazars, our people consulting team are licenced and trained facilitators in Thomas – a market leader in psychometric assessments. Thomas assessments are registered with the Psychological Testing Centre (PTC) or the British Psychological Society (BPS) which follows the guidelines of the European Federation of Psychologists Association (EFPA).

We offer psychometric assessments to all our executive search clients to assist in the search for the best candidate. Our experience has shown us time and time again that the use of such tools offers insights that, within the recruiting process, provide excellent value and results.

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