If you’ve applied for a job, chances are you’ve taken some kind of psychometric test. The psychometric assessments have been around since the early 20th century. And they’re widely used; the commonly quoted statistic is that as many as 80% of the Fortune 500 use these kinds of tests in the recruitment process.
Traditionally, organisations have leveraged psychometric profiling to assess the thinking caliber of talent.
Psychometrics is an area of psychology devoted to psychological measurement and the construction of questionnaires and tests, which assess people’s knowledge, attitudes, personality traits or mental ability.
“Organisations can evaluate how a candidate might behave in a job role; for example, capacity to work with others, deal with complex situations, process information and cope with stress, amongst other skills, before even seeing them in person. Moreover, many research studies have found that people who do better in these tests, perform better in the job role itself,” explains Dinesh Arya, co-founder of boutique global executive search firm AST Consultancy.
“Employers typically use psychometric tests as a way of eliminating unsuitable candidates at an early stage, screening candidates for interviews, objectively determining someone’s ability, personality, motivation, values and reactions to their environments, identifying the strengths or weaknesses missing in existing teams and helping to make strategic recruitment decisions and providing management with guidance on career progression for existing employees,” adds Dushyant Arya, the other co-founder of AST Consultancy.
Are you eliminating or selecting?
While the prevalence of psychometric assessment leverage was high in the western hemisphere, the last 7-8 years have seen a more decisive influence of science-infused talent decision-making in large talent supply markets like China and India in Asia.
In India, the utility of psychometric assessment was primarily to eliminate unfit candidates from the talent process because of the volume of talent supply. But this is shifting, says Ishita Bandyopadhyay – managing director, Aon's Assessment Solutions, India and South East Asia.
“Today, we find technology and data analytics can be amalgamated to make a stronger case for predicting potential and performance on the job. The leverage of behavioural and motive driver psychometric profiling like Aon’s ADEPT-15 (Adaptive employee personality test) is fast gaining momentum in India. Organisations can leverage data and statistical analysis today to make better talent decisions. Indian organisations want to do away with the ‘Gut feel’,” she says.
Bandyopadhyay adds that the cost of putting the wrong talent on the seat can be so high that organisations are shifting their decision-making towards selecting the person who will fit the role.
“While talent supply increases in a market like India, employability and fit for the position are still debatable. Hence the leverage of psychometric tools such as Aon’s ADEPT-15 and smartPredict (gamified tools) has entered a new zone, over and above cognitive assessments, which measure thinking capacity organisations are gravitating towards personality and motives assessment to assess Culture fit. The shift is in making talent decisions around selection along with elimination,” she adds.
In the world of senior talent assessment, Psychometric profiling has become common and there are various tools used which could be in house or outsourced to experts.
There are various psychometric tools like DDI, Hogan, SHL used at senior levels. Some of the other ones used include DISC/MBTI / Saville / Cliffton.
“We at AST Consultancy have propagated the LIFO which was built by the famous Stuart Atkins which focusses on the blind spots and working styles under normal and stress conditions. However, even the best of tools is not 100% perfect hence should be used only as validators or to find blind spots in an individual’s way of working. We all have our blind spots and an understanding of that can guard against possible failure of a candidate in a given situation. And change in behaviour during stressful conditions also helps in deeper understanding of a person’s working style. A glimpse into these of a potential leader versus the requirement on the job, can help validate the final selection,” says Dinesh.