Why More and More Organizations Rely on Psychometric Testing for Hiring

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Why More and More Organizations Rely on Psychometric Testing for Hiring

Digitization has made it easier than ever for recruiters to collect and compare candidates for roles. That’s why the average recruiter now looks at 200+ resumes per role.

Additionally, organizations increasingly screen for not just hard skills (like C++) but also for behaviors, personality, and how that individual might fit into a team. Short of asking candidates to come in to work for a trial day (or week), there’s historically been very little way to do that.

Psychometric testing is an increasingly popular way to screen for factors like behavior, personality, work ethic, and communication style. In theory, it allows recruiters to see data about how an individual works, how they might fit into employee culture or team culture, and what they might lack for the role in the scope of a competency matrix defining success in that role. That’s why 75% of Fortune 500 companies use psychometric testing and 18% of all companies do, too.

If you’re considering adopting psychometric testing as part of the hiring process, this article covers why you should do it.

A Better Culture Fit

Organizations are more and more often focusing on building a culture. This might include “company” culture, “branch culture” or even “team culture”, but most recognize that it’s important to hire people who have the same values and priorities.

If you work in an Agile environment and everyone largely has ownership of their own work and responsibilities, a person accustomed to waterfall management and direct delegation would function poorly and might not be willing to adapt.

Similarly, someone accustomed to an Agile environment might feel stifled by a waterfall environment. Understanding personality and competency traits allows recruiters to better match the individual to the company and team.

This also applies to basic team building, where systems like DISC use different types of personalities to build fully functional teams. Understanding personality upfront allows recruiters and HR to get an idea of how that person might fit into the team and if they can fill existing roles, or if they would result in an imbalanced team.

Of course, personality tests cannot be the end-all final say in this, since interviews, interaction, and one-on-one time with the team can result in new dynamics being created with positive results.

Matching Hires to Competency Frameworks

Many organizations are adopting competency frameworks to better understand how and why work is completed across the organization. Here, HR or an external company matches hard and soft skills such as “Excel skills” and “time management” to succeed in a role.

Over time, the organization using that competency framework has a strong understanding of which “competencies” result in high performance or poor performance.

Psychometric testing can essentially function as a filter to check which competencies the employee has. This is significantly better than relying on the resume, which quite often is based on simple self-assessment and is therefore often wrong. The psychometric test must include both an aptitude test and a personality test to fully map the candidate’s soft and hard skills to the framework.

Unfortunately, with most psychometric testing requiring one or more hours, most organizations cannot ask candidates to take part until at least the second stage of interviewing. However, once completed, you can very easily narrow down the final selection based on competency framework mapping.

Switching Focus to Aptitude

HireRight’s 2019 Employment Screening Benchmark Report shows that as many as 85% of candidates lie or stretch the truth on their resume. This may be accidental and a poor choice of wording, or simply phrasing to make themselves look good for new employers.

Studies like these mean that recruiters cannot fully rely on self-assessment on resumes. And, while candidates can provide references, following up and interviewing those references in-depth is expensive and hardly feasible for all but the most important of roles.

Instead, most reference interviews result in a few minutes of casual questioning regarding moral standing, performance, etc., without touching on roles, responsibilities, or active projects.

Aptitude testing switches the focus away from resume listed skills and simply asks the individual to show off what they can do. These tests range from simple multi-question examinations to in-depth projects requiring 1-4 hours of investment.

While you obviously have to match investment time to the level of the role (most people won’t spend hours on an application for an entry-level role) these assessments show you what skills the person has, at what level they can perform, and how they perform in new environments.

Eventually, this gives the recruiter a much better idea of how well the candidate can actually do the job they’re being hired for.

Improving Candidate Quality

The cost of recruitment hovers around $4,000 across all jobs and all industries. While that’s obviously lower for entry-level and unskilled work, it ranges up into the tens of thousands of dollars for CEOs and C-suite hires. The cost of hiring the wrong person for leadership can more than double that individual’s yearly salary.

Psychometric testing allows you to better align the candidate with the role, to see aptitude and skills upfront, and to assess personality as part of the process. This can help you determine if the candidate is a good culture fit, what they want and need as motivation, how they develop themselves, and whether they’re likely to remain with the company.

A better candidate fit means improved quality of hire, improved quality of work, and reduced employee turnover over the long-term. However, achieving these results does mean ensuring that your psychometric testing is mapped to benchmarks and a competency framework and that you are making selections for validated reasons. No test is valuable without being linked to desired outcomes.

Setting up psychometric testing as part of the recruitment process can help you to make better hires. At the same time, it requires significant investment in the process, performance management, and job matrixes. Simply collecting and ranking competency data across the job matrix is a significant investment, even with a base framework.

Importantly, most testing offers little value without those frameworks because you have to understand why you want one trait over another or why one aptitude is more important than another. Therefore, psychometric testing can add significant value, providing you have an established basis with which to deliver value. And, of course, some tests, like DISC, include their own frameworks for teambuilding and roles, which you can adapt to your own organization’s needs.


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