Psychometric Testing
Should You Use It?

Is psychometric testing valid when hiring? It can be of some help, but do not put too much emphasis on it; there is a better way. Let’s look at where this fits in the context of performance management.

So, your think you are a good judge of character. Think again!

Some people are amazingly skilful at presenting a very false picture of their ablities. This will sometimes result in disastrously incorrect hiring decisions.

Psychometric testing is a series of carefully structured questions that the candidate answers, which are then evaluated. If done right, such testing can help to uncover the true nature of your candidates. Is this a mask?

  • The one who is hiding behind a mask and painting a very rosy (but false) picture of themselves can be unmasked.
  • And the “what you see is what you get” type of candidate can be confirmed by the test as being exactly what they portray.

Getting a clear picture of the true nature of people is one benefit of psychometric testing. There is, however, another positive outcome: understanding the personality of a candidate in relation to the job to be performed.

Job Fit

Suppose you are hiring a salesperson. What personality trait will best fit a sales role?

  1. Do you know someone who likes lots of activities happening around them? They only seem happy when they have a dozen different things to do. They relish the idea of completing each one as rapidly as possible with high energy.

    Such a person usually does not think ahead too far. They are fully focussed on what is happening right now. This type of personality trait is ideal in a sales role where there are many sales to close every week (or day) in a fast-paced environment.

  2. On the other hand, there is the person who is a master of strategic thinking. They can look ahead many months and enjoy the challenge of planning things out over extended periods of time.

    They are rarely put out by short-term setbacks, because they have their eye on the long-term goal. This type of personality is perfect for a sales role where the projects have to be worked on for months at a time and require sustained effort and planning.

  3. This is not to say that the short-term thinker is better or worse than the long-term one. They are simply two different aspects of one of the personality traits. But if you are hiring a salesperson, it would certainly help to know where your candidate fits on this particular scale.

Similarly, consider hiring someone who will be in direct contact with your customers; a technician, receptionist, etc.

It would be good to know if your candidate is naturally diplomatic and friendly in their communication, rather than abrasive and direct. They may not display this in an interview. Psychometric testing can give you a good understanding of this trait too.

Testing Validity

A word of caution, however; there are 2 aspects to such testing procedures.

  1. The validity of the test questions; did the creators put together something that can, in fact, give you meaningful results?
  2. The validity of the evaluation; does the person who evaluates the test know what they are talking about?

Most testing procedures that have been around for many years are reasonably valid. You do need to be careful, however, about who is reading and interpreting the test results.

You should probably ask for references of pervious customers of the testing organisation, just to make sure you are dealing with a competent operator.

A Senior Factor

Far more important than the personality of the candidate, is their ability to produce results.

You can actually have people who have the most “inappropriate” psychometric testing results who, nonetheless, have a proven record or results. In other words, they get the job done, regardless of their personality quirks.

Production is senior to personality.

See more detail here on how personality fits into the performance factors.


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