Talent Assessments Series Part 1: How to successfully use psychometric tools

Amongst all tools used by HR teams globally, psychometrics is probably the oldest. Yet, still most widely used. Having high validity and reliability, psychometrics has great use cases in both talent acquisition and management helping HR make better, faster, and most accurate talent decisions. In this blog, we explore more about psychometric measurements and how to successfully use these tools in your organization.

What Is Psychometrics?

Before deep-diving into how an organization should use psychometrics, it is important to establish a unified understanding of what psychometrics is. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), psychometrics – coined from the Greek words for mental and measurement – refers to the field in psychology devoted to testing, measurement, assessment, and related activities.

Although there are many reliable psychometric brands available in the market today, the top 3 most popular types of assessment measurements are:

  1. Personality – These measurements give insights into a person’s natural behavioral preference and their tendency to lean toward or away from a set of competencies and traits.
  2. Interest & Motives – These measurements uncovers a person’s interest to organizational values and cultural alignment while also looking at factors that motivates a persons performance.
  3. Cognitive – These measurements show a mental horsepower or fluid intelligence and look at the ability to learn and unlearn information while reasoning with numerical data, verbal information, or logical problems.

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Why Use Psychometrics?

The human decision-making process is often influenced by non-relevant data as we process too much information at one go or are blinded as we are unable to see certain factors. This is a costly phenomenon to anyone in HR or in charge of making talent decisions. As not only could the impact of a wrong decision impact business, but also a person’s livelihood. Psychometric tools help minimize the chances of a wrong decision by providing additional objective data to aid in decision-making. Below are the top 3 reasons organizations use psychometric tools in their talent processes.

1 .Psychometrics take away unconscious bias

Each of us has our own set of experiences, expectations, habits, and beliefs as humans. As a result, we frequently make biased decisions without even noticing them. Psychometric tests, unlike us, are science-based and data-driven, which means the results provide organizations with an objective assessment that helps HR or managers objectively analyze a candidate’s fit.

Psychometric tests also help maintain standards for scientifically measuring personality traits and aptitude, which makes the recruitment process fair. As the test score considers a variety of factors and delivers non-biased findings, it allows people to be weighed on the same scale, making recruitment and talent processes easier.

2. Psychometrics provide key additional data

Psychometric assessments give companies more information about potential hires or promotional candidates that they might not be able to get from other sources, such as interviews or resumes. Psychometrics, in particular, is an effective way to assess potential as it looks into strengths, weaknesses, and aptitude. Even if used in conjunction with interviews, having additional data gives the recruiter the ability to ask more informed questions as well as explore other points of concern. This additional data can also act as a strong filter, especially for businesses that have a high focus on cultural fit and vision alignment as a measurement criterion.

3. Psychometrics provide better return on investment

Since psychometric assessments help reduce or diminish the chances of a bad hire, they are not a sunken investment but rather do become cost-effective in the long run when pitted against the cost of a bad hire. While a good fit candidate is an asset for your business, a bad hire can prove to be extremely costly and impact the productivity and morale of other employees.

The data from psychometric assessments help organizations match the right talent with the right roles ensuring speed to productivity, higher employee engagement, and higher retention rates.

What to consider when choosing an assessment provider?

1. Reliability & validity

As psychometrics is a field of science that has many accreditation bodies and experts, any vendor selected should be able to provide extensive documentation on the validity and reliability of their tools.

This documentation and proof of science-based evidence should ascertain the tool’s reliability by ensuring consistency in results. As well as its validity by guaranteeing the tool actually measures what it is set to measure.

2. User friendliness of the platform

Technology has raised our expectations of user experience and this is no different in psychometrics. Hence, it is extremely important to consider the platform’s interface when qualifying a vendor. The platform should be intuitive and engaging to use for both the hiring teams and the candidate. Not only does a great user experience help your employer branding, but it also ensures the candidate is undisturbed by usability during the assessment. The hiring team’s side ensures an easy and smooth administration process that doesn’t disrupt time to talent cycle time.

3. Result Output

The data output is one of the most important considerations to have when choosing a vendor as it will determine how easy it is to interpret results, lessen the chances of wrong interpretation, and speed up the decision-making process.

Result output and reports should ideally be easy to understand and not psychology jargon-filled. It should be contextualized to your organization for easy implication understanding and it should assist the decision-maker with insights on candidates’ strengths and weaknesses.

Gaining The Most Out Of Psychometrics

With more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies using psychometrics in hiring and equally using it in managing talent, psychometrics is no doubt a norm in organizations today. However, organizations need to ensure proper processes are in place to get their psychometric tools.

Build A Proper Assessment Process

The proper use of any tool starts with understanding where that tool belongs in your process. Whether it be talent acquisition or management, psychometrics should sit at a point where the data can help further decision-making. For example, the most common mistake made, usually due to budget considerations, is placing psychometric assessments after the interview process rather than before. This allows the interviewer only to use the assessment results to justify his thoughts and perception already pre-conceived from the interview, or critical concerns that could have been clarified or confirmed with interview questions are not asked due to lack of visibility.

Another necessary process that organizations often overlook is their test-retest process. In simple terms, the organization’s policy on administering the same assessment to the same person. This is done for different reasons in talent acquisition and talent management. In talent acquisition, a test-retest is done in instances where the recruiter notices inconsistencies or conflicting information in a candidate’s results, which may indicate difficulty/disturbance during the assessment or cheating. In this case, the retest process set should specify a duration to which assessment should be re-done, and importantly that the retest must be done in a different environment, i.e., from non-proctored to proctor.

While the same instance can occur in talent management, the vital test-retest process here involves the length of time candidates should be retested to track development and changes. Changes in behavioral preference, motivation, and cultural alignment, for example, can occur between 16 to 18 months after initial testing; therefore, organizations must have a process to ascertain information on this needle movement.

Have A Measurement Framework

As the old saying goes, what gets measured gets managed. However, if you don’t know what to measure, what can you manage? Hence psychometrics will only add value if organizations understand what exactly it is they are trying to measure. Measurement can be viewed from different angles; leadership competence, cultural alignment, job-specific traits, future business needs, etc. This is why it is essential to have a measurement framework, a clear structure on the different components to be assessed. This framework will have some similarities across the organization and some changes based on roles, job levels, shifting business needs, etc.

Let us look at 4 elements that typically make up a measurement framework that aims to look at candidate profiles holistically rather than at one specific measure:

Leadership Competencies – These are leadership factors that can be looked at from a company perspective, job-level perspective, role perspective, or new business perspective. Candidates in talent acquisition are usually measured on the leadership competencies for the role they are being recruited for. In contrast, the majority of candidates in talent management are measured for future roles. These include competencies such as business acumen, strategic thinking, people management, etc.

Cultural Values – Company culture can be described as the shared ethos of an organization. It’s the way people feel about the work they do, the values they believe in, where they see the company going and what they’re doing to get it there. These include values such as harmony at work, absence of stress, inspiring connections, etc.

Agility – Agility can be split into 2; learning agility and cognitive agility. Learning agility is a candidate’s interest, willingness, and desire to constantly learn new things and show importance in self and professional development. Cognitive agility is the mental horsepower and indicates a candidate’s ability to learn.

Technical Competencies – Technical competencies describe applying knowledge and skills needed to perform effectively in a specific job or group of jobs within the organization. These competencies are closely aligned with the knowledge and skills or “know-how” needed for successful performance. For example, a tech role may require a combination of strong programming skills and high deductive logical thinking capability.

Validate The Assessment Results

To truly understand if your psychometric tool is being used successfully and gives your organizations the desired results, you need to look at the accuracy of decisions made using the assessment results. This means confirming the assessment’s predictive validity. In psychometrics, predictive validity is the extent to which a score on a test predicts scores on some criterion measure.

For example, the validity of a cognitive test for job performance is the correlation between test scores and performance ratings. Whilst, this may sound complicated, like a scientific endeavor, it is actually data analysis that will show HR is data-driven in its methods and can show evidence contributing to accurate talent decision making. Also, if an assessment doesn’t predict performance over time, it’s time to re-evaluate the assessment or assessment process.

High-performing companies assess and improve their candidate evaluation processes regularly, paying close attention to predictor variables, outcome variables, and the relationships between the two. Psychometric assessments should go through the same rigorous testing and validation process as the candidates they are used to evaluate. When hiring managers and HR use a robust and scientifically rigorous process to select and administer the right psychometric tools, they increase the likelihood of selecting and retaining the right talent drastically.

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Conclusion: A Case Study On Psychometrics ROI

The most significant proof of psychometrics being used successfully, aside from predicting future performance, is being able to build a business case from it. Psychometric provider Aon achieved just this for their client Nordea, one of the largest full-service banks in Northern Europe, who needed to streamline their graduate hiring assessment process while also boosting their corporate brand. With over 4000 applications received and 200 graduates hired, Aon helped them achieve a satisfaction rating increase of 19%, the most diverse intake in 12 years, a 250% cost saving, and a 3months time savings of effort. Read the full case study here

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