Love them or hate them, it appears that psychometric tests are here to stay.
Psychometric tests are now a multi-million dollar business, with companies around the world spending millions of dollars a year on them. From what I have read, it appears that around 70% of the larger companies in both Australia and the United Kingdom are now using psychometric tests in the hiring process. Canadian statistics are harder to come by, however according to a 2003 survey roughly only seventeen percent of employers did not use any form of pre-hiring assessment tool back then. Keeping in mind that this survey was from ten years back, and psychometric tests have grown considerably in popularity in recent years, the numbers of companies using psychometric tests in Canada, have in all likelihood increased. I am sure these numbers are similar in many other regions as well.
Psychometric tests are generally used to work out the suitability of potential employees. If you have not already had to undertake a psychometric test, the chances are that at some stage, you will. Companies want to know more about job seekers, they want to ensure they are hiring the right person for the job. They also give them a good indication of job seekers core competencies.
Conducting psychometric testing helps to give companies a benchmark to work to in terms of objectively measured abilities. It can challenge the company’s initial perceptions that can often be influenced by candidates who answer questions where they tell the interviewer rather what they think they want to hear, than the real truth. It gives the recruiter an opportunity to explore other avenues of concern. This can be done by arranging further interviews where they take a more in-depth look at certain areas. Or by focusing on specific areas when doing reference checks, based on the test results and findings. Psychometric testing will also give the recruiter upfront information on the candidate’s strengths and limitations prior to hiring, thus giving the recruiter to opportunity to know how to manage the candidate, according to their strengths and weaknesses.
However it is important to remember that psychometric testing can have its draw backs. So much of the value of any test depends on the administrator. Tests can be poorly presented or explained, which can cause the results to not be accurate. Because so much emphasis is often placed on the results of these psychometric tests, this can be potentially damaging. Some companies will reject a candidate based on their not achieving as good results as they anticipated, even though the candidate may have excelled in all other areas of the recruitment process. Nerves are also a problem, I have had many job seekers say that because they are under so much pressure because of the limitation in time, that they can get very nervous and just do not perform as well as they could have. Psychometric tests can also be detrimental when used in certain cultural groups. They can also be damaging when employers place too much of an emphasis on their results and overlook the importance of traditional interviews and reference checking. When it comes to online testing, some job seekers may be at a disadvantage as they may never have had exposure to the testing process, nor be very computer literate. Some may also have not been in a position where they can practice online, and familiarize themselves with the process.
For all of the reasons above, my feeling is that, regardless of where in the recruitment process, psycho metrics are incorporated, that they should always be considered as just one aspect of the recruitment process. They should never be the final decision making tool.