Why you should use psychometric assessments

With so many different options on the table to add to your recruitment process, why should you use psychometric assessments over, or in addition to, other methods? Whilst CVs are still the most commonly used selection method (in the UK), followed by the traditional triad of application forms, interviews, and references (Zibarras and Woods, 2010), modern psychometric assessments can provide a better indication of an individual’s likely success in a role – and at a cheaper cost.

This guide tells you why we think they’re great, and how you’ll be able to demonstrate their utility to those who hold the budgets.


 

Provide a consistent and objective experience

Across all assessment activities, a key aim is to ensure the consistent and objective evaluation of individuals – i.e. that each candidate receives the same assessment experience and that recruitment decisions are not made solely on subjective opinions or feelings about the candidate’s suitability. Whilst this can be addressed in face-to-face assessments using clear rating scales, standardised instructions, and pre-set interview questions, the human element of assessment can introduce bias. Although research has shown that increasing awareness of assessor bias can make it less likely, psychometric assessments are the closest candidates get to a 100% consistent and objective assessment of their suitability to the role. 

Identify top performers earlier

The clear goal of an assessment process is to find the best candidate for the job – an individual that will perform well once they are in the role and require little development to perform the job for which they were recruited. If a psychometric assessment has high predictive validity, it is said to be able to accurately predict someone’s future ability or behaviour in a particular role. If you choose a psychometric assessment that provides a reliable and valid measure of a key skill required in the role, then you can focus the latter stages of recruitment on aspects such as performance at interview and fit with the organisation’s values and culture. Generally, research has shown that ability tests have higher predictive validity than assessment centres, all types of interviews, and references – bettered only when combined with another type of assessment, such as structured interviews (Robertson and Smith, 2001; Pilbeam and Corbridge, 2006).

Focus on the great candidates

Using psychometric assessments to sift out unsuitable applicants early on in the hiring process means you can focus more time and effort on those who show the highest potential for the role. With fewer candidates in the latter stages of the assessment process, you’re better able to evaluate applicants who are a strong fit with the behaviours (competencies) required for the role and the culture of the organisation. For example, by narrowing a field of twenty candidates to three at the final stage, rather than eight, you can be more discerning with your final selection, as you’ll have confidence that you’re seeing the top candidates from the applicant pool.

Support a cost-effective assessment process 

As the recruitment process reaches the latter stages, the amount of time and associated cost incurred by the organisation increases. For example, a typical assessment centre for six candidates will involve between four and eight assessors/interviewers taking time away from their usual workload. By using a psychometric assessment early in your recruitment process, you’re better able to ensure that those candidates who make it through to the more costly stages of your assessment process (i.e. interview, assessment centre) have already demonstrated their abilities in relation to the role, so your time and cost isn’t spent evaluating unsuitable candidates.  

At the same time, it is important to consider the costs associated with each assessment – and this should be taken into account when choosing your psychometric assessments. We recommend that when reviewing the costs spent on psychometrics, you should calculate the cost per hire (including estimated cost per time spent) rather than per person assessed. 

Provide a long-term return on investment

In addition to ensuring that the more costly face-to-face stages of an assessment are spent with candidates who have already demonstrated a good fit to the role and organisation, you can also measure the effectiveness of psychometrics beyond the job offer. A candidate who has demonstrated that they have the skills required for the role (i.e. numerical reasoning) as part of the recruitment process is less likely to require additional training at the start of their employment. However, the insights you have gained from their assessment can help inform and shape future development plans for that individual, which demonstrates value in the assessment beyond its initial purpose. Similarly, the candidate is also more likely to stay with the organisation for a longer period of time, as they won’t have been placed in a role which is beyond their abilities, or where their values and motivations are at odds with those of the organisation.

Whilst these aspects of recruitment may be directly related to the candidate, there is a related effect on HR costs and other employees. Should someone be underperforming in their role and unable to complete key tasks, it is likely to increase the workload on their colleagues as they work to cover that team member’s underperformance. Similarly, should someone leave the organisation because they are unable to complete the key requirements for the role, despite having demonstrated a great fit to the company culture, there is again an impact on colleagues to cover the additional workload. Both of these situations, over a sustained period of time, could lead to decreased job satisfaction amongst all those employees.

Whilst it’s important that candidates aren’t placed in jobs that are not suitable for them, it’s also important for organisations to avoid spending additional budget on re-hiring. By using a relatively low cost psychometric assessment, you can increase the likelihood that you’ll find a candidate who has the right fit to the organisation, as well as the required skills, and who will require less initial development support. In addition, by recruiting the top performers from your applicant pool, you are also more likely to find a candidate who will develop within the organisation and could be one of the business leaders of the future. 

Create a rounded assessment process

Remember that psychometric assessments look at just one aspect of what is required to be successful in a job. So, whilst an accountant may score well in numerical reasoning and be great at the number crunching in their job, they may perform less well in measures of behaviour and cultural fit with the organisation – which is why a well-rounded assessment process is critical.

 

References

Pilbeam, S., & Corbridge, M. (2006). People Resourcing: Contemporary HRM in Practice. Pearson Education Limited: England 

Robertson, I, T., & Smith, M. (2001). Personnel Selection. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 74 (4), 441 – 472. 

Zibarras, L, D., & Woods, S, A. (2010). A survey of UK selection practices across different organization sizes and industry sectors. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 83, 499 – 511. 

 

About the author

This article is a part of the Talent Q resource library. Talent Q is part of Hay Group, the global management consultancy firm. They design and deliver innovative online psychometric assessments, training, and consultancy to help organisations make better, more informed decisions about their people. Talent Q works with national and international organisations across all sectors, and has offices covering over 50 countries and assessments in over 40 languages.

Simon Dutton