Psychometric tests in the hiring process
Recruiters are increasingly relying on psychometric tests to choose which candidates to progress to interview. They’re used by about 80% of Fortune 500 firms today, while our research suggests they’re also used by around half of all medium-sized employers.
They’re popular for all sorts of reasons. Firstly, they’re designed to make your hiring process fairer, by going beyond the CV to create a level playing field for all candidates. By helping employers put aside things like education, employment history, age or ethnicity, they help employers build more diverse, dynamic teams. They’re also intended to support more data-driven, informed, predictive hiring decisions. That means faster processes, lower costs and less turnover.
All this means that the right assessment can paint a richer picture of every candidate, helping you gauge real potential before you hire. Taken together with other data – interview responses, for example – they’ve been proven to lead to better hiring processes. Getting the most out of psychometrics, though, comes down to your goals. And, importantly, matching those goals to the right assessment.
Types of psychometric test
The field of psychometrics is pretty broad and diverse, and different assessments will measure different things. Broadly, though, you can split the field into two camps: aptitude, and personality.
All aptitude tests, in their various forms, measure some aspect of ability or cognition (what we’d usually think of as intelligence). They’ll often ask questions where the answer is either right or wrong – measuring what’s known as ‘maximum performance’. As the name suggests, there’s not a lot of grey area with aptitude.
Here are some common types of aptitude test you’ll find on the market:
- Numerical reasoning: these look at how quickly and accurately someone can process numerical data. Common tasks include interpreting charts, solving numerical sequences, working with percentages or ratios, and performing currency conversion.
- Logical reasoning: Logical reasoning, aka critical or inductive reasoning, can involve text, numbers, or even just shapes. These tests measure how candidates solve problems, make connections and spot rules or patterns. For example, a candidate might be asked to read a passage of text and then choose the statement that most accurately reflects it.
- Spatial reasoning: Spatial reasoning tests assess how well someone can visualise, differentiate and manipulate 2D and 3D shapes in their mind. They can also include more specific tasks, like map-reading and route-planning. These tests are especially common in STEM fields.
- Abstract reasoning: Like logical reasoning, abstract reasoning measures pattern-recognition. The main difference is that abstract reasoning requires no use of language or mathematics. Commonly, a candidate will be presented with a sequence of shapes or patterns, and will need to predict what comes next.
- Error checking: No prizes for guessing this one: error checking tests measure how well a candidate spots errors. That could be a mistake in a data set, a typo in a block of text, or a logical error in a hypothetical problem.
- Technical tests: A technical test will relate to a specific field, usually in STEM. It may draw on other psychometric tests, such as spatial reasoning, numerical reasoning and logical reasoning, and apply this to specific problems found in that field.
Unlike aptitude tests, personality assessments don’t focus on ‘right or wrong’. Instead, they aim to give employers a clearer read on candidates’ natural behaviours, and how these will affect their fit. This could be for a specific role or, alternatively, their cultural fit.
Because there’s no real ‘right or wrong’ when we consider someone’s personality, these tend to be known as ‘assessments’ rather than ‘tests’. We can break them down into two types:
- Self-report: These ask candidates to describe their own personality. They’ll often present a statement, and then ask the candidate the extent to which they agree. For example: “I’m a naturally creative person”, or “I enjoy working closely with others”. These are effectively questionnaires, and candidates will normally complete them online today (though they existed for decades in paper format beforehand).
- Behaviour-based: These don’t ask any questions or present any statements. Instead, they let candidates show their authentic behaviour by completing a series of intuitive tasks, based on neuroscientific research. This can be termed a ‘no-knowledge’ approach, as candidates aren’t required to really know anything about their own personality. As a result, these assessments are particularly useful for early careers screening, where candidates have little work experience to go on.
Where do psychometric tests fit into the hiring process?
Both aptitude tests and personality assessments tend to be used early in a process to support faster, fairer and more accurate screening. For this reason, they’re particularly common for companies attracting high volumes of candidates.
Using them early on means you can feel more confident you’re progressing the right people to the latter stages of your process. We’ve seen that they can make a real difference to assessment centre pass rates, for example, simply by progressing high-quality candidates that would otherwise slip through the net.
That said, they can also be used later in the process, perhaps as an additional data point to inform hiring managers’ approach to interviews. This is particularly relevant for behaviour-based assessments. This is for two reasons:
- They can capture cultural fit, as well as job fit. So hiring managers can bring a second data point to bear so that they progress the right people.
- Behaviour-based assessments can pick out behavioural development areas, which can be probed more deeply at interview. This means a more personalised, insightful approach to finding the right people.
What your candidates can expect from our assessment:
Well, firstly, let’s start with what they shouldn’t expect:
- Hundreds of thinly veiled questions about their behaviour
- Overwhelming test anxiety
- A total lack of feedback
With most psychometric assessments, these would be par for the course. But our assessment’s a bit different. Okay, a lot different. Here’s what your candidates can expect from it:
Tasks, not questions
There are no questions in our assessment. Instead, we’ve built a series of intuitive, engaging tasks that measure their unique qualities in action.
There’s no right or wrong with the tasks. All your candidates need to do is approach them as naturally as possible – although, because they never really know what’s being measured at any one time, it’s incredibly hard to fake anyway.
Once they’ve completed the assessment, we’ll automatically send them a feedback report detailing the qualities they showed.
To create the report, we compare their qualities to those of the general population, by putting every candidate in the wider context of a ‘norm group’. Because most people see their qualities in the context of their immediate group of friends and family, norm groups make sure their feedback is as real and accurate as possible.
How can your candidates prepare for a psychometric assessment?
Most assessment providers say that the best way to prepare for psychometric assessments is practice. Lots and lots of practice. But this always ends up favouring candidates from certain backgrounds, who can access more training, and inevitably get more comfortable with test anxiety.
That’s why our assessment doesn’t require any real preparation. Because we’re looking at your candidates’ potential – their unique qualities – rather than testing them.
That said, there are a few things your candidates can do to give themselves the best chance to show their potential:
If a candidate completes the assessment on a crowded bus, it’ll show up in their results. So we strongly recommend finding a quiet place, where your candidates can focus completely.
Check the connection
We’re way past paper assessments. Which means it pays to have a strong Wi-Fi connection! We recommend candidates check their device’s connection to the internet before starting the assessment. If they don’t have access to a computer or smartphone, we suggest they borrow a relative’s or close friend’s.
Read the instructions
Our assessment isn’t like most assessments. Because we use tasks to see true potential, rather than asking hundreds of questions, it’s sensible to read the instructions and really understand how those tasks work. There’s also a practice task, to help your candidates get to grips with the format.
One of the great things about our assessment is how it sees right to the heart of your candidates’ unique qualities. But it also sees when they’re trying to be someone they’re not. Candidates who use guides off the internet to try and ‘beat’ our assessment rarely progress, if ever. So it pays to be for candidates to be themselves – that’s all we’re looking for.
Which industries are psychometric tests suitable for?
In short? All of them. We’ve already seen how widely they’re used, whether that’s Fortune 500 giants or medium-sized employers. That said, some of our most successful customers can be found in:
- Professional services
- Financial services
- HR & outsourcing
- Engineering, design & manufacturing
- Government agencies & emergency services
Time to learn a bit more about psychometrics?
We know the world of psychometrics can seem like a complicated place. That’s why it’s always best to chat through your options before taking the plunge!
So, if you’d like to take a closer look at our behaviour-based assessment here at Arctic Shores, or you’ve got any questions at all, we’d love to chat. Just get in touch here.
You can also download our Playbook for CV-less hiring to find out how hiring for potential can transform your hiring process.