Last week, we sent you our top tips to getting virtual interviewing right.
But sometimes, especially when you aren’t meeting candidates face to face, you need a little bit more reassurance that they are the perfect fit.
There is always an element of risk in recruitment for both the hiring company and the candidate. Hiring the wrong people can be an extremely costly mistake.
That’s why it is fundamental that your search and selection process, for all employees – not just at senior levels, is carried out thoroughly and effectively. Psychometric tests are proven to reduce the risk of hiring the wrong person.
While carefully tailored, competency-based interview questions certainly play a role in the hiring process, more and more of our clients are adding psychometric testing to their recruitment assessment processes in order to add another layer of security.
Psychometric tests as defined by the Psychometric Institute are “a standard and scientific method used to measure individuals’ mental capabilities and behavioural style. Psychometric tests are designed to measure candidates’ suitability for a role based on the required personality characteristics and aptitude”.
I caught up with our Leadership Assessment Consultant, John McFarland, who has over 20 years’ experience in this field, to find out the key facts that you should know about how psychometric tests can be used in your recruitment process.
1. What are the main benefits?
Probably the key advantage to psychometric testing is that you are able to obtain information that is almost impossible to reveal during the standard interview process. The tests can measure a number of attributes including intelligence, critical reasoning, motivation and personality profile.
As well as this, the tests provide objective data. One of the main issues throughout the recruitment process is bias and subjectivity – whether conscious or not. An interview process can be fairly subjective and although employers will normally assess skills and experience fairly accurately, much can still be left to gut instinct.
Psychometric testing offers some ‘scientific’ credibility and objectivity, which is a fairer approach to assessing a candidate as all applicants complete a standardised test.
This objective evidence then allows you to benchmark a wide range of candidates against a specific level and comparison group, narrowing down the pool to a small group of highly relevant, target candidates.
2. What tools are out there?
There are bundles of tools available for various types of testing, whether it be personality profiling, situational tests or ability tests.
When it comes to executive search, the most prevalent type of psychometric testing is personality profiling. For this, there are two main categories; understanding what type of personality you have or what personality traits you exhibit.
Type tools are good for team building; understanding who in the team is the leader, who is the creative mind, who is the motivator. But these methods tend to just pigeonhole people into set categories, which isn’t overly helpful for a recruitment selection process.
For recruitment purposes we are most interested by trait-based tools which give you an idea about a candidate’s personality characteristics and give each individual a unique score.
In terms of what options are available John suggests three main tests; SHL’s OPQ32, Saville’s Wave and Cubiks’ PAPI. All three are quite similar and based on the same theory and methodology. We prefer to use OPQ32 tests on behalf of our clients, with a report tailored to the most important competencies for that specific role.
OPQ32 is comprised of 104 questions online, each question gives four statements and you have to choose which is most describes you and which least describes you. It is assessing 32 personality characteristics and takes c45 mins to complete online.
Another type of test which is increasingly being used for executive search, is Situational Judgement Testing (SJT). These put you in fictitious situations and ask you to make decisions based on that scenario, giving you a good assessment of that candidate’s judgement.
Each employer will have a preferred answer to each situation and the responses will allow them to see how that candidate will fit in with the company’s culture and expectations.
There are 2 options when it comes to SJT’s – off-the-shelf or bespoke. SHL also offer these and their portfolio of off-the-shelf options is called Scenarios. Alternatively, you can pay companies to design bespoke options that are tailored specifically to situations that would arise within the position candidates are applying for.
Ability tests are less common at Executive level, however for Head of or Manager roles they may be something you want to consider including in the process. The most commonly used ability tests are for numerical and verbal reasoning.
They are delivered through short, multiple-choice tests requiring candidates for the numerical test to analyse data and make quick calculations, or in the case of the verbal reasoning test reading through a set text and then making logical deductions and conclusions from it (answering via multiple choice).
3. When should the tools be used?
Testing can be used to screen out candidates early on in the process, or they can be used to aid the interview process.
The golden rule is that ability tests are great tools for screening out applicants early on, but personality tests should only ever be used to gather information to help you at interview stage.
We typically use personality tests at the shortlist stage or in between the clients’ 1st and 2nd interviews; providing feedback in tailored reports and suggest 1 or 2 questions to be covered in the next interview.
As SJT’s are almost a hybrid between ability and personality tests, they can be used at either stage. If you want to use them for screening, you can set a cut off score, so anyone below this point is ruled out.
Psychometric tests can be a hugely valuable resources during the executive search process, especially when many companies are having to hire a candidate without ever actually meeting them! We are certainly seeing an increase in the number of our clients opting for them prior to the interview stage.