How to Use Psychometric Testing in Hiring

Posted in : HR Updates on 11 January 2018
Anne Daley
Clarendon Executive
Issues covered:

Psychometric testing continues to rise in popularity.  In fact, over 75% of the Times top 100 companies now use some form of psychometric testing, usually during a recruitment and selection process. The technological advances in online testing enable candidates to do a test in their own time and location, meaning more efficient and cost-effective recruitment processes and potentially a much wider candidate pool.

Clarendon Executive’s Anne Daley explains the value of psychometrics in senior level recruitment and, with the increasing number and sophistication of online tests available how to choose what’s most suitable for your hiring needs.

Why Use Psychometrics?

Making a poor hire is an expensive and time-consuming process – a cost estimated to be up to three times the salary of the individual. And more than just a financial cost, a poor hiring decision can have a detrimental effect on morale in the organisation as well as creating a negative impression of the business in the wider community.

These are good reasons to consider some form of additional assessment, such as psychometric testing, as part of a selection process. When used properly and tailored to the specific role, psychometric assessment can introduce more rigour and objectivity into the recruitment process and supports more accurate identification of the personal and occupational characteristics that the organisation needs. 

While tests will not, and should not, replace a structured, panel interview as the focal point of any recruitment and selection procedure, their use can ensure standardisation of the recruitment process.  This is especially important in non-specialised roles where candidates may come to the process from diverse backgrounds and sectors and with very different experiences. 

Which is the Best Test to Use?

The British Psychological Society currently has over 150 tests on its list for use in occupational assessment and is a useful starting point. These are tests that have been independently reviewed and validated for use in businesses, giving hiring managers, HR departments and candidates reassurance that recruitment and selection process is as relevant, fair and transparent as possible.

When recruiting for a senior leadership role, organisations may need to assess particular areas, for example verbal, numerical and critical reasoning skills, as well as judgment and decision-making. Using an ability test or Situational Managerial Judgement test (SJT) provides an objective, standardized way of assessing such skills.

A reputable personality questionnaire will also give some insight into a candidate’s leadership style, preferences, personality traits and motivations, providing useful additional data on the candidate and how self-aware they are.  This information can also be explored in more depth through the interview process.

It may be appropriate to use a combination of tests – an ability test or an SJT and a personality measure.  It’s important that organisations don’t just test for testing sake and that tests do not unnecessarily prolong a recruitment and selection process.  This can be frustrating for good candidates who may decide to drop out of the process and can potentially undermine the credibility of the organisation.

Tailored Testing

It’s a point worth stressing that the business needs to really understand what it is looking for in a candidate and then choose a test or tests that assess and measure what is needed to be successful in the role.  Candidates will happily engage in this part of a selection process when they can easily see the relevance of the exercise.

Information gleaned at test stage can help an interview panel to formulate questions and explore key areas in more detail with a candidate.  And candidates, regardless of the outcome, can receive standardized feedback from a trained assessor that can help them in preparing for future applications.

The Future

Major test designers and providers are always looking to the future and ways of improving psychometric tests.

New assessment experiences currently in development will provide engaging assessment solutions focusing on key candidate behaviours, motives and abilities that can be done on a mobile app and that are designed to look and feel like a game.  And the Psychometrics Centre at the University of Cambridge is developing a tool that translates an individual’s digital footprint into a detailed psychological profile and an open source online testing platform where organisations can create their own online assessments.

Psychometric tests, when used correctly to supplement and enhance a hiring decision, clearly have many benefits for an organisation.  They can help to reduce recruitment costs, eliminate or reduce errors in hiring leading to improved organisational performance.  Crucially good recruitment practice will enhance the employer brand, helping an organisation to win the war on talent by attracting, engaging and retaining the best on the market.

This article is correct at 11/01/2018

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Anne Daley
Clarendon Executive

The main content of this article was provided by Anne Daley. Contact telephone number is 028 9072 5750 or email

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