Used properly, psychometric testing can provide you with valuable data that can help you to hire the best people for the job, get the most out of your staff and help you to manage more effectively.
However if carried out poorly, psychometrics can be a waste of time and money and the results can be inaccurate and unreliable.
For this reason, it is vital to first understand the theory behind psychometrics and then ensure you are working within best practices and planning effectively to get the most from your psychometric instruments.
Choosing psychometric tests
Before choosing the type of tests that will be most suitable for your purposes, you need to define what you hope to achieve from carrying out psychometric testing.
If used in the recruitment process, this may be to find individuals with a high aptitude in the skills that the role requires, to find candidates with a personality profile that fits with the rest of your team or to eliminate a bottom percentage of applicants.
In judging the effectiveness of a psychometric test, you should first consider the potential reliability and validity of the test. Working with a specialist provider with a good reputation and proven track record makes this a lot easier. There are many cheap and free psychometric test kits available on the Internet but are not researched and tested thoroughly. If you are relying at least partially on the results of the test to help you make important business decisions, you need to assign an appropriate budget to it.
It is equally important to choose tests that are relevant to your business and the job role of the candidates taking it. For example, a complex numerical reasoning test is probably overkill for most job roles.
When to administer psychometric testing
If you are planning on asking candidates to undergo psychometric testing, the timing of the test depends on if you are using it to screen applicants prior to selection, or if you are using the psychometrics to aid you in shortlisting candidates.
For screening purposes, it is probably most efficient to administer testing online before inviting candidates for interview or other assessment. Specially designed software makes it easy to administer both job applications and psychometric testing over the Internet and allows you to filter the data depending on your individual requirements.
Tests used for other purposes such as staff development, promotion, team building and other business decisions should be carried out alongside other processes such as appraisals, measurement of job performance and employee surveys.
Factors that may influence the results of other tests do not generally affect psychometric testing, however in the case of aptitude tests, candidates should have time to prepare and have had sufficient rest before the test. An aptitude test given after staff have been working long hours to make a deadline, for example, will result in poorer scores and may be inaccurate.
Tips and warnings
In order to be effective, psychometric tests must be properly constructed, valid and reliable. The best way to ensure this is to work with a professional supplier that provides statistical data on the reliability of tests and information about how the data should be interpreted.
Test takers should be given clear instructions as to how to complete the test and should fully understand the reasoning behind the test and its purpose. The environment in which candidates take the test should be comfortable and free of distractions.
Above all, the results from one test should never form the basis for any business decision. Psychometrics should always be used in conjunction with other assessment methods and processes for best results.
For more details on choosing the right psychometric test for your purposes, read our final article on psychometrics.