I’m frequently asked about the use of psychometrics in recruitment. I hear a range of views and a good deal of scepticism about their use. Whatever sector of retail you’re in, you’re likely to need leaders who are smart, innovative, flexible and great with people. How do you assess candidates against these qualities in an interview?
Used properly, psychometrics can help you see beyond the rehearsed interview answers. Broadly speaking, psychometric instruments fall into two camps:
- Ability tests include things such as verbal, numerical and critical reasoning. They are cognitive tests with “right” and “wrong” answers and measure how the participant compares to others in similar roles or populations.
- Personality questionnaires are more subtle and explore characteristics, traits and the likely behaviours of the individual, again in comparison to a peer group.
There is also a growing interest in Situation Judgement tests which draw on both elements, testing how one applies knowledge in a work-based scenario.
Here’s how to get value from using psychometrics in recruitment:
- Use the right tool for the job: I see many employers using ability tests that have no relevance to the role, or using “type tests” (like Myers Briggs) in recruitment when they are not appropriate for this purpose. When devising an assessment process, make sure all exercises reflect the skills required of the job.
- Use well-respected materials. There are many publishers of occupational psychometric tools and not all are created equal. Some are vigorously peddled by sales people with little understanding of the psychology. Others are as insightful as completing a tabloid newspaper quiz. Stick to materials by well-known occupational psychology publishers that are approved by the BPS (British Psychological Society).
- Conduct feedback interviews: This is essential – you can’t draw conclusions on the results of an exercise (particularly a personality questionnaire) without an in-depth discussion to put the responses in context.
- Use a professional: many of the most effective psychometrics require BPS accreditation and training from the publisher to be able to buy and interpret them. Just like any “skill”, regular use will mean that a professional will see and explore things that less experienced, or infrequent, users will miss.
As always, the answer to using psychometrics effectively is in making sure the right tools are used for the job, and by the right person. Making decisions based on bad information will never enhance your recruitment process, or your view of psychometrics.