The pros and cons of psychometric testing

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Written by Nathan Thompson on 12 August 2022 in Features
Features

The value of psychometric tests are often questioned but here Nathan Thompson argues they have their place in our bid to secure and develop the best talent

Psychometric testing is a process that uses psychological measurements to evaluate an individual's personality, cognitive abilities, and emotional intelligence. Businesses have used it for many years to assess potential employees during recruitment. However, there has been a lot of debate surrounding psychometric testing, with some arguing that it is an invasion of privacy.

What is psychometric testing?

Psychometric tests are standardised psychological tests designed to measure abilities, attitudes, aptitudes, or personality traits. They are commonly used in recruitment and selection, employee engagement, employee training and development, performance evaluation, and psychological assessment.

Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of their employees, businesses can tailor their training programmes to maximise efficiency and effectiveness

The most commonly used types of psychometric tests include aptitude tests, achievement tests, intelligence tests, personality tests, and interest inventories. Aptitude tests measure an individual's potential to learn or perform a specific task. Achievement tests measure an individual's actual level of proficiency in a specific domain. Intelligence tests measure an individual's global ability to think abstractly, solve problems and remember information. Personality tests measure an individual's characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Interest inventories measure an individual's likes and dislike about different activities and occupations. Psychometric testing is a valuable tool for understanding an individual's strengths and weaknesses and making informed decisions about their development and career path.

What are the pros and cons of psychometric testing?

Is psychometric testing effective? The discussion as to whether psychometric testing is an invasion of privacy or a valuable tool for selection rages on. Here are the pros and cons of psychometric testing to help you make up your mind.

Pros
Improves engagement
Psychometric testing can help to improve employee engagement in several ways. First, it can help to identify employees who may be disengaged or at risk for disengagement. By identifying these individuals early on, organisations can take steps to address the root causes of their disengagement and prevent it from becoming a bigger problem.
Second, psychometric testing can help to identify employees who are likely to be more engaged in their work. This information can then create tailored engagement strategies more likely to succeed. Finally, psychometric testing can help to measure employee engagement levels over time. This information can identify trends and determine whether engagement strategies have the desired effect.

Accuracy
Another advantage of psychometric testing is that it can help to improve the accuracy of selection decisions. Traditional selection methods such as interviews and reference checks are often inaccurate. This is because they rely heavily on subjective judgments, which biases and errors can easily influence human judgment.
Psychometric tests, on the other hand, are designed to minimise the impact of these biases and provide a more objective assessment of an individual's suitability for a role. This can lead to improved accuracy in selection decisions and reduced turnover rates.

Cost efficiency
One of the main advantages of psychometric testing is that it is highly cost-efficient. Compared to other assessment methods, such as interviews or work samples, psychometric testing requires less time and resources to administer. In addition, psychometric tests are often administered online, reducing costs. Furthermore, the results of psychometric tests are highly reliable and valid. This means that employers can be confident that the test results accurately reflect an individual's psychological capabilities and behaviours. As a result, psychometric testing is an efficient and effective way to assess candidates for employment.

Timesaving
Psychometric testing is an invaluable tool for any business, large or small. By measuring an individual's abilities, skills, and personality traits, businesses can save time and money by ensuring that they only recruit the best possible candidates for the job.In a world where competition for top talent is fierce, psychometric testing gives businesses the edge they need to find the best employees. In addition, psychometric testing can also help businesses to identify training and development needs within their existing workforce. By knowing the strengths and weaknesses of their employees, businesses can tailor their training programmes to maximise efficiency and effectiveness.

Cultural fit
Culture is increasingly essential in the modern workplace. With the rise of remote working and global teams, it is more important than ever for businesses to ensure that their employees fit well with their company culture. Psychometric testing can help to identify individuals who are likely to be a good match for a company's culture. By understanding an individual's values, motivations, and personality traits, businesses can assess whether they will be a good fit for the organisation. This info can then be used to make sober decisions about recruitment, training, and development programmes.

Highly effective
As compared to other assessment methods, psychometric testing is highly effective. It helps businesses to identify the best candidates for a role, assess training and development needs, and improve accuracy in selection decisions. This is especially true if the test has high job-relatedness and content validity.

Cons 
Despite the advantages of psychometric testing, some disadvantages should be considered.

Over-interpreting test results
Over-interpreting test results is a common pitfall in psychometric testing. This can happen when tests are administered without proper  context or test-takers place too much importance on their score. Over-interpretation can also occur when tests decide things like job placement or college admission. In these cases, a high score may give a false sense of assurance, while a low score may lead to feelings of inadequacy. Neither of these extreme reactions is warranted, and both can be avoided by understanding the limitations of psychometric testing. Psychometric tests measure specific constructs, such as intelligence or personality. They are not intended to be all-encompassing measures of an individual's worth or ability. Therefore, it is essential to consider the test results in the proper context.

For example, if you are taking an IQ test, your score will tell you how your intelligence compares to the general population. However, it will not tell you how smart you are in absolute terms. Similarly, if you're taking a personality test, your score will reveal how your personality compares to the average person's. However, it will not tell you whether or not you are a good person. In short, psychometric tests should be used as one piece of information in a giant puzzle. They should never be used to make definitive decisions about someone's worth or ability.

Must be used together with other methods
Psychometric testing is often used to measure an individual's mental abilities and personality traits. However, these tests must be used with other methods to provide an accurate assessment. This can be seen as a downfall of psychometric testing, as its reliance on other measures can lead to potential inaccuracies. In addition, psychometric testing is often only effective when used with large sample size. This can make it difficult to obtain reliable results when testing a small group or individually. Overall, while psychometric testing can be a useful tool, its usefulness is limited by several factors.

Parting shot

Different types of psychometric testing are valuable assessment tools for businesses. It is timesaving, highly effective, and can help to identify the best candidates for a role. However, psychometric testing should not be used in isolation, and the results should be interpreted carefully to avoid making over-hasty decisions. It is often used to provide incremental validity in addition to other predictors, often with the use of non-cognitive assessments on top of job-related assessments. Psychometric testing can be an invaluable tool for any business when used correctly.

Nathan Thompson, PhD, is CEO and co-founder of Assessment Systems Corporation (ASC)

 

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