How do you know you are using the right psychometric test?

With increasing use of psychometric testing, how do you know you are using the right test?
There is a considerable range of assessments available and to test comprehensively, the chances are, you would have to use several which of course makes doing this expensive and difficult from a management point of view never mind the demotivation experienced by candidates or staff to ‘not another one’!

But what if there was one that did offer a comprehensive view of an individual. What would it look like? Many tests examine personality and they can be split into what is called normative and ipsative tests. Normative tests use an objective measurement criteria so that individuals can be compared to each other whereas ipsative tests look at how an individual sees themselves as well as their perception of how others see them. Clearly normative tests can therefore be used for recruitment where comparisons are made (choosing the best person for the job) but ipsative testing is not recommended for this purpose. Ipsative tests as used by Thomas, McQuaig, Myers Briggs etc do have value eg. when looking at how person may fit into a team, balancing the various personalities that comprise it but not in recruitment or selection (for promotion). For more information on this subject click here.

OK so we need a normative test but what attributes do we need to look at? The range of personality traits is considerable but the most relevant are those that relate most strongly to organizations in both the business and public sector. These are self-motivation, assertiveness, sociability, manageability, attitude, decisiveness, an ability to be accommodating (a team person), independence and level of objective judgement.
The measurement of character and personality are common types of testing but other types are not. There is an increasing awareness that qualifications by themselves do not necessarily indicate that a candidate has good verbal and numerical reasoning skills. Research shows that this alone can account for up to 50% of an individual’s ability to do a job. Recently in a survey by the Association of Graduate Recruiters one company indicated that it is planning to introduce verbal and numerical reasoning tests because "degree qualifications are not a reliable indicator of this aptitude". In addition this is not the kind of ability you can question realistically in an interview.

Now we have character and verbal/numeric reasoning as well as of course as the interview and references. On the subject of the latter, it is always advisable to attempt to get such references by telephone where you have the opportunity to gauge written answers that you might receive in a legal reference document such as ‘his work was satisfactory’. On its own it raises doubts but if you had the chance to question his/her boss you might find out that he/she was very good at the job but completely disinterested in it. If you have a similar job then you have your answer ie. it would be unwise to take this candidate on. However, if your role is different, you still have unanswered questions ie. what will happen if the candidate is not interested in what we are offering even though he/she has demonstrated so far that he/she really wants it! Research carried out by Greenberg and Greenberg published in the Harvard Business Review has shown that a knowledge of work interests is directly proportional to the likelihood of a candidate staying in a job. Not many individuals really know what genuinely interests them at work but you as a manager responsible for recruitment or promotion need to know this.

We are beginning to compile quite a list now: character, verbal/numeric reasoning and what interests people at work. If we are testing for verbal/numeric reasoning we should also add verbal/numeric ability. The difference is important. Verbal ability is a knowledge of vocabulary and grammar whereas verbal reasoning is how you communicate what you want to say, how you put over a point of view, put your case in other words. Numeric ability is being good with numbers, a knowledge of maths whereas numeric reasoning is you explain the numbers, your analysis, why the graph looks the way it does, the significance of certain numbers over others.

This should give us a pretty good idea of what makes up a person if we measure all this. But what do we compare all this information to. We have to be able to compare this information to what the role or job requires. This is called job fit and probably is the most important part of all. We have all heard this before but he/she being ‘a good fit for the job’ is absolutely true. We therefore need to know the same factors for the job in question. How do we measure this? The immediate boss of the role under examination can define it in the terms mentioned above but that is incredibly difficult assessing the various different levels of character, numeracy, interests etc. Perhaps there is a library of such profiles; we will address that shortly. The best way is to measure those currently doing the job but doing the job successfully. This is the best approach; cloning your best people. If you can’t do this you need access to a library of job profiles so that an initial comparison can be made and a bespoke profile can be developed from this which can include the manager’s definition the qualities he/she wants encompassed in the job.

In conclusion, measuring the following will give you a comprehensive view of what makes up your candidate or employee:
- Verbal ability and reasoning
- Numeric ability and reasoning
- Personality – 9 character traits
- Work interests
- Job fit matched to the role in question
- And for recruitment, it should be a normative test

Anova have a test that measures all these factors – The Profile XT.
We also have a library which contains hundreds of profiles if high performers can’t be used initially as a basis for the job match or job fit process.

Not only does this assessment cover all these factors, it also includes a distortion index which measures the propensity of the candidate or employee to tell the truth.

If you want to try the Profile XT in your organisation we will give you a free trial to see how it works. Call +44 (0)1491 636300 or mail