5 February 2014

It’s interesting to hear the psychometric test being discussed in the media lately. I’ve heard Jeremy Vine and his guests debating its effectiveness on his radio show and read a couple of features about it as a recruitment method. Personally, I’ve always found it to be a reliable way of discerning whether someone’s a cultural fit with the company. We’re a bit of a crazy bunch so it stands to reason that we might not be everyone’s cup of tea and vice versa.

However, not everyone’s such a raving fan of the psychometric test. Critics argue that people can cheat the system by giving the answers they think you want to hear and whilst it’s true that some candidates might try, it’s not as simple as that. Tests can be put together in a way that prevents this; phrasing the same question in different ways, for example, or using algorithms to identify any discrepancies. Inconsistencies in people’s answers are red flags straight away and easy for analysts to read.

Personally, I would argue that people are able to pull the wool over your eyes more easily in a face to face interview than in a psychometric test, yet I do appreciate the importance of gut feeling when meeting candidates in person. This is why assessment days with various different stages and challenges are so effective. An article on the Financial Times’ business blog last week seemed to suggest the same thing; that psychometric tests should be just one of many assessment techniques in a company’s arsenal. I have to agree, this does seem to be the best way to find the best people.

However, I think a lot of critics are missing the point of psychometric tests designed to identify personality type and attitude. Yes, you need to test people’s aptitude and appropriateness for the job role, but in my opinion finding like-minded people is much more important than a dazzling CV. Psychometric tests are a good way to find out whether people’s values match up with those of the company. They’re also useful in finding out what drives people so you can better motivate them if you do take them on.

In my experience, ignoring psychometric test results because a candidate has a great CV or a wealth of experience often leads to friction within the team when that person begins to rub against the grain and unsettle the balance and dynamic of the workplace. Will this always be the case? Maybe not, but with the cost and effort involved in running assessment days, do you really want to overlook the methods that measure someone’s compatibility and work out whether or not they’re a good fit?

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