Psychometric testing has been into existence since the 20th century. If we trace back the history of psychometric assessments, one will surely find it across human history, in all cultures and occupations. More specifically, the use of psychometric testing in recruitment approximately started at the time when Alfred Binet introduced the “Intelligence Test”. But, the use of psychometric testing in recruitment was also seen in Ancient China, where the same was used to recruit employees to roles that required specialized competencies – for instance, roles related to fiscal policies, agriculture, law, revenue functions etc.
Even today, psychometric testing is being used extensively by corporates and educational institutes. Probably, the only difference is that there is now variety of psychometric tests available in the market, the standardization process of establishing the psychometric properties have become much more advanced and comprehensive and the testing methodology has started using the best of available technologies such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, and the like.
Coming back to the focus of this article, to answer the questions
Why Psychometric Testing in Recruitment?
Several reasons can be stated for this:
It is a convenient screening tool – When we talk about recruitment, the biggest challenge for recruiters is to screen out the misfit candidates and then focus and invest the time and energy on the ones that are deemed to be fit for the role. The use of psychometric testing makes the screening process quicker and objective and helps the recruiter to identify a smaller pool of suitable candidates. Many organizations use the Aptitude test as the first step to screen out the candidates. Some others may use a personality or competency-based tool. For example, if you are recruiting managers, an assessment that indicates the Managerial Potential score is an ideal screening tool. You may choose to keep a cut-off of say, 60 out of 100 score and anyway who scores below 60 are then screened out. Since the psychometric test takes only about 15-20 minutes to complete, it is most convenient in terms of time as well.
This was an example of just one competency screened using just one assessment tool. In more advanced processes, an entire competency map is created assessing a candidate against several competencies and then screening them out based on the scores. However, competency mapping being a time-consuming and expensive process, must only be conducted with the selected, “deemed-to-be-fit” candidates. A simpler aptitude or intelligence test can be given for the initial screening.
It makes the recruitment process objective – This is one of the most quoted reasons for why psychometric testing in recruitment. Any kind of subjective bias or assumption arising from the interviewer can be challenged and the bias in the process can be reduced. Let’s take an example to prove this point. A candidate performs extensively well in the Group Discussion and written test round. Surely, the candidate has been able to impress the interviewer and it is but obvious that there will be slight inclination towards selecting the candidate. However, When the candidate takes the critical thinking assessment (a competency that was opted to be critical for success on the job), the percentile for the candidate is 19 in contrast to the cut-off percentile – 60. Within seconds, the rejection decision is made. This is a classic case of how a psychometric assessment tool can be useful in the recruitment process. Critical Thinking being a competency that cannot be assessed using group discussion or interview, can be assessed using psychometric tool and make the decisions easier and quicker. Why rely on “gut instincts” when psychometric testing is available.
It is a cost-saving formula. An outcome of the first two advantages is that psychometric testing can help to save cost. The counter-argument to this may be “Psychometric tests are expensive as a product. How can it then make the process cost-effective?” Well, the cost of the product is much lesser than the cost of a “bad” hire. The amount of time invested by recruiters in the entire recruitment is much more than the cost of the product. If in any case, psychometric tests can help in reducing that time spent and selecting a “good” hire, then it is absolutely is a cost-saving formula for organizations.
It is agile and highly adaptable. In the context of psychometric testing here, agility and adaptability mean the ability of the science of psychometrics to integrate recent modern technologies like artificial intelligence, data analytics, responsive design and the like. Psychometric tests can now be taken directly using a mobile phone (most commonly available device) without any other logistics to be arranged. The basic environment to take psychometric tests, however, remains the same – an environment of no distractions, must be taken in one sitting and not spending too much time in analyzing and over analyzing the questions or items.
It is a reliable indicator of future job performance. This is one of the primary reasons why psychometric testing is made a part of the measurement step in competency mapping. The tests are used extensively as part of Assessment and Development Centers as well. Psychometric testing helps in identifying high potentials by measuring employees against some future competencies. By doing so, it indicates future performance on the job. Additionally, past performance and interview data must also be used along with psychometric assessment results to get a more holistic picture of future performance.
These reasons give every hiring manager and recruiter the confidence to use psychometric testing in the recruitment process. The psychometric tests can be used at any step of the recruitment process – while screening to identify a pool of suitable candidates, before interview as an add-on to conduct a more relevant competency-based or behavioral interview or after the interview for development purpose. Either ways, the use of psychometric testing reaps its benefits for the organization.