The use of testing and assessments has become an integral part of the recruitment process for a large proportion of UK organisations, and their use is increasing. The term psychometric test can cover a very wide range of tests: ability, aptitude, intelligence, personality, motivation, interests, career guidance, and more.

Selecting Talent

Companies are increasingly realising the business benefits that can be derived through the use of a thorough and well-planned assessments programme in identifying candidates with the experience, knowledge and skills necessary for success in the role. The benefits include:

  • More accurate representation of the candidate across many competencies.
  • Candidates who more accurately match organisational culture and individual roles.
  • Improved in-job performance.
  • Increased staff morale and commitment.
  • Reduced turnover of staff.
  • Can be used as part of an organisational change process.
  • Provide an equal opportunity to all candidates to demonstrate relevant skills.

The use of psychometric assessments as a valuable part of the recruitment process has now achieved mainstream acceptance. Psychometric tests provide objective, fair and quantifiable data that can give you confidence in making the right decision and therefore in appointing the right person.

Types of Psychometric Tests

Assessment centres
Utilising a mixture of individual assessment, group exercises and job simulations to ensure that you select the right individuals. These assessments ensure that you select graduates with the right ability and potential to fulfil your requirements. The fast turnaround time and no-nonsense reports allow your organisation to confidently make rapid selection decisions.

Automated screening and sifting
Efficiently and accurately creating a short list from high volume applications. Online application forms, staged assessments, automated applicant response and real time applicant tracking.

Online assessment
There are a wide range of online psychometric tests available to match your job role requirements. For situations when speed and cost effectiveness are paramount, these are sent to you, or the candidate, via email.

Do we Need Psychometric Tests?

Psychometric tests are widely used by the employers in selection and development of employees. A high amount of graduates are exposed to psychometric tests in their job searching experience. Even if a candidate has outstanding educational attainments, most employers will still use psychometric testing.

As well as the increased use of assessments as a whole, the range of techniques candidates experience is also quite diverse. Over a third of graduates have experienced one or more of the following assessment tools:

  • Competency-based interviews
  • Personality questionnaires
  • Psychometric testing
  • Presentations
  • Work simulation tests
  • Group exercises

Other commonly used tools included role-plays, in-tray exercises, arithmetic and verbal reasoning tests, whilst some graduates have even been asked to undertake graphology tests and handwriting analysis.

Psychometric assessments can be used to gain a deeper insight into your candidates. For example, a reasoning test can help you ascertain who has the ability to think on their feet, or to pick up new information quickly. Other tests and questionnaires can help you to spot the real players or the detail conscious applicants. All of those are aspects which are hard to measure through a CV or interview. Psychometric assessments can also be used prior to interview to screen out those individuals who simply do not have the ability to do the job, thereby saving you time and money.

What to Look for in Psychometric Tests

The British Psychological Society (BPS) is the UK organisation 'charged with national responsibility for the development, promotion and application of psychology for the public good'. They recommend that those interested in using psychometric tests, whether for selection or development, should acquire appropriate qualifications or should seek advice from qualified individuals.

Relevance and Reliability of Psychometric Testing

Many studies have been carried out to relate psychometric assessments with subsequent job performance. In almost all cases the results show that where appropriate tests are used, adding psychometric assessment to the recruitment process significantly improves the likelihood of the selected person performing well in the job. However, it is important to be sure that the tests are appropriate. At the very least you should seek professional advice from a business psychologist as to their relevance. The very best way to ensure relevance to a particular role is to carry out a validation study within your organisation. This requires testing several current employees and correlating their scores with their recent job performance.

All psychological tests should be supported by evidence of reliability and validity for their intended purpose. High levels or reliability show that the test is consistent over people and over time in the factors that it is measuring. High levels of validity indicate that the test is measuring what it claims to be measuring. With a professionally developed psychological test, this information will be available and will provide evidence to support the inferences that may be drawn from the scores on the test.

Conclusion

Psychological tests are complex assessment tools which require time and money to develop and should only be used by people who know what they are doing.

It is important to make sure that online tests include adequate instructions, and example questions. Online testing removes the requirement for personal administration, but the theory and statistical backing of the test must still be evident to make it a useful tool for everyday use within a recruitment field.

Selection and promotion of the right graduates is a major driver of business success. Selection mistakes are costly. Yet reliable measurement of employee ability and potential is often hard to achieve. We can deliver predictive assessments for selection and promotion on a global basis. These assessments are used successfully by international companies, government bodies and small businesses throughout the world.

Psychometric Testing Glossary

An approach to obtaining feedback from all your work associates. The 360 part of the phrase implies receiving feedback from all around you. Therefore, in theory this could include feedback from your manager, your manager's manager, your staff, your peers, your customers, your suppliers, and any other significant contact in your work role. Effective feedback helps companies manage this pragmatically and also ensure that individuals are supported in their development. It is vital that expectations are well managed once individuals receive their feedback.
 

When there is a disproportionate rate of rejection in any one sub-group in comparison with the rest of the individuals being assessed for selection purposes.
 

Tests to assess maximum performance in specific areas of ability. Responses to questions are marked right or wrong. Level A BPS training is required for independent interpretation of these tests.

This refers to a selection process that may span one or more days and that incorporates multiple assessment measures. Because you are not just relying on any one selection tool, such as the interview, the results tend to be the most predictive in terms of selecting quality candidates; but only if you know how to professionally apply the Assessment Centre approach.

Tests used to see how well a person has learned a subject matter. Within the work environment they include tests designed to measure the effectiveness of learning upon the completion of training.

These are automated application forms and with the use of web-based application forms e.g. for graduate recruitment they are becoming popular again.

A correlation is simply the relationship between two things which can be expressed numerically. If the two things are exactly the same then the relationship is perfect = +1.0. If there is no relationship between them then = 0.0. If the two things are exact opposites then = -1.0. Within the workplace correlations are useful for example to see whether a test predicts later job performance.

A development workshop that follows the assessment centre approach by using a range of exercises and tests, and then provides feedback to the delegate.

There are many different definitions for emotional intelligence. According to Peter Salovey and John Mayer, two researchers who offer a more scientific view of the concept, emotional intelligence concerns the ability to process emotional information, particularly as it involves the perception, assimilation, understanding, and management of emotion. They suggest it involves four branches of mental ability: the ability to perceive accurately, appraise, and express emotion; the ability to access and/or generate feelings when they facilitate thought; the ability to understand emotion and emotional knowledge; and the ability to regulate emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth.

A statistical technique used to determine the natural ordering of complex data/information. It is a particularly useful technique to pinpoint respondents' mental models by factor analysing how they have used ratings either for questionnaires or for assessment purposes. The items/questions that are rated in similar ways by people cluster together to create 'factors'. Therefore, if looking for factors within a personality questionnaire you might find factors emerging like extroversion or sensitivity.

This is simply means 'forced choice'. For example, in a question the respondent is given five options and they need to choose the option that is most like them and also the one that is least like them. Such questionnaires are not easy to norm as one is only getting an internal measure of their personal likes/dislikes. For example, an individual may keep selecting influencing as something they do not like doing relative to other items. But we do not know how low his/her influencing is relative to other people's liking for influencing.

This is a method for producing systematic information about a specific job or role. It informs upon the knowledge, skills, abilities and other attributes (KSAOs) required to effectively perform a job. The information generated from a job analysis can be used to assist a wide range of activities including designing structured interviews, providing job specifications/descriptions, complying with legal requirements etc.

An approach to development whereby an individual is paired with a more experienced person within the business. The pair are sometimes referred to as the mentor and the mentee. It is far from being just another organisational initiative, as companies have reported very successful mentoring schemes.

The application of psychology within work and business. Areas of study include personnel selection and assessment, training & learning, organisational development, individual well-being at work, ergonomics, and research methods. It is also commonly known as business psychology, work psychology, organisational osychology and industrial psychology.

This is a way of expressing a candidate's test score. Percentile expresses the performance in terms of percentages but does not relate to the number of questions correct. Rather it describes the percentage of people that the candidate performed better than e.g. 50 percentile = better than 50% of people who took the test. 90 percentile = better than 90% of people who took the test. Percentile is written in short form as %ile.

Tests to assess typical performance or preference i.e. how we typically feel or behave. Appropriate Level B BPS training is required for independent interpretation of these questionnaires.

Any systematic attempt to study an individual's characteristics e.g. intelligence, abilities, personality, clinical symptoms.

Psychology is concerned with the study of feelings, behaviour (including the physiological and biological bases of behaviour), motives and thinking. A Psychologist therefore applies this knowledge to help people solve personal problems or help a group. Therefore, there are several branches of applied psychology (occupational psychology, clinical psychology, educational psychology, child psychology, forensic psychology etc.) that a psychologist can specialise in. The core training of these professionals is very similar. To become a psychologist the individual must first take a degree, followed by Masters degree and/or PhD. For the UK, all these degrees must be recognised by the British Psychological Society (BPS). After completion of their academic studies the individual must then have several years of supervised relevant work experience and training before they can become a chartered psychologist. HR professionals may typically work with occupational/business psychologists.

Psychological tests that provide standardised interpretation of mental characteristics. The 'metric' aspect offers a form of systematic measurement.

Someone who spends time devising tests to high technical standards and who make as considerable effort to understand a psychological variable e.g. ability, aptitude, skill, attitude, motivation, or personality trait. The 'metric' part refers to efforts to achieve an objective measure. Therefore, psychometricians are professional test designers. In order to design a test they will conduct research and follow vigorous steps in test development to produce a sound test. This will normally take many months as the test development entails stages of trialling with appropriate groups of people.

Technically, it is a measure of the spread of your test scores. The larger the SD the more spread out the scores are around the mean.

Because tests are not an absolutely perfect measuring instrument then there is going to be some error in the obtained raw score. So if person A's obtained raw score is 30 and the test manual states the SEm is 3 then you would be reasonably confident that his true score lies 30 + or - 3, i.e. between 27 and 33. To be 95% confident you will need to go 6 either side ie. 24 to 36.

Person A and person B have applied for the same job. Person A's raw score on the selection test is 30 and person B's is 35. Has person A done significantly better than person B? To find out you will need the SEd. Not all test manuals will provide you with the SEd for their tests - if not it can be calculated as it is 1.41 x SEm. From the above example of SEm = 3. Then 1.41 x 3 = 4.23. As person B's score at 35 is 5 raw scores more than person A's then you know person B's score is significantly better. However, to be 95% confident it will need to be about 8 raw scores better than person A's (i.e. 2 x 4.23). As a rough rule of thumb, and bearing in mind that the SD is more easily accessible, for most tests: If the candidates' raw test scores differ by ½ SD then you are confident there is a difference; if they differ by more than a whole SD you are very confident. However, you still need to be very careful about simply appointing the candidate with the highest score - where is the evidence that this will actually mean that he/she will perform better in the job?

Evidence that the test works for a specific application.