Testing times

Testing times

Published: 15th November 2019

The delicate balance between having, not only the experience and leadership skills required, but also the approachable, likeable personality a team will work hard for, can be challenging to find. Originally used in educational psychology, psychometric testing has slowly become a fundamental part of the recruitment and selection process as it can measure attributes like intelligence, aptitude and personality. With 75% of the Times Top 100 companies now using psychometric tools, what exactly are they, and why are they so popular?

As an indicator of your personality, preferences and abilities, psychometrics can help prospective employers find the best match for their role and their working environment. As a recruitment and selection tool, these tests can be applied in a straightforward way at the early stages of selection to ‘screen-out’ candidates who are unlikely to be suitable for the job. There are two categories of psychometric testing; personality questionnaires, which try to measure specific aspects of your personality, and aptitude tests which try to capture your intellectual and reasoning abilities. 

Employers are recognising more and more that personality is of great importance in success at work, especially at senior and management level. Consequently, the most popular test candidates are asked to complete is the personality questionnaire. The principle behind these tests is that it is possible to quantify your character by asking you about your feelings, thoughts and behaviour in a variety of situations, both in and outside of work. 

As management styles become less autocratic, and the number of customer focused jobs increase, it is more important than ever to ensure you are choosing individuals who fit well into your existing team, and present themselves well to customers and clients. 

Also very popular are the aptitude tests. These involve questions that test your verbal and numeric ability, your abstract reasoning, spatial ability, mechanical reasoning, and fault diagnosis. They are designed to assess your logical reasoning and thinking capabilities, as well as adding the pressure of a strict time limit. These provide an employer with proof that your candidate has the basic skills to perform the job effectively, and can be an indicator of their fluid intelligence, and how quickly they learn new things. 

The key reasoning behind the use of psychometric testing is actually very simple. No matter how in depth an interview, or number of obscure and challenging questions you put to a candidate, it can be incredibly difficult to peel the person back to who they are in a more relaxed and natural setting. Your strongest candidate could have turned up to interview and come across as anything from nervous and timid, to brash and over-confident. The beauty of psychometrics is the ability to take away the stress of an interview, giving an employer a much clearer view into their own recruitment process, and ensuring the right candidate turns into a great employee.