Using Psychometrics – The Pitfalls For HR
When using psychometrics the pitfalls for HR departments can unexpectedly call into question (often by the hiring managers) questions around how well does the assessment meet the relevant work performance criteria. As a first step we would recommend that HR professionals embark on an evaluation process to ensure that the assessments are effective. From Testing Talent’s perspective we always wish to ensure that when we select, use and interpret psychometric assessments we do so in a fair, accurate and consistent a manner as possible. We also wish to know, ‘is there criterion-related validity evidence?’ In simple terms ‘how does the test relate to the outcome?’ This is the single most important technical property of any assessment.
So, how do you avoid the pitfalls? – Read On
This probably sounds strange, but if you were going to buy a new washing machine, would you not undertake your own research on the product? Probably look for independent reviews, as to its overall cleaning, rinsing efficiency, spin dry and ease of use? Perhaps if this approach was adopted in a more effective manner there would be less complaints from people asked to undertake a psychometric assessment. In addition it provides you with more detailed knowledge of what it is you wish to assess and measure of any potential candidate for employment.
What is your rationale for using psychometrics?
As independent practitioners, with over 20+ years experience there is clear evidence that psychometric assessments can be among the best methods for forecasting workplace performance (Schmidt & Hunter, 1998; Robertson & Smith, 2001; Schmidt, 2017). Perhaps you need to reflect on the following 10 principles, prior to using psychometrics.
Testing Talent’s Ten Principles
- Will it improve your decision making – by identifying the best candidates from a large number of applicants?
- Will it increase the cost-effectiveness – can costs be reduced be reducing the labour costs in short-listing or in interviewing?
- In a more diverse society can psychometric testing reduce bias – nearly always associated with the job interview?
- What is the candidate experience – positive or negative. Candidates expect and believe they are fair and objective particularly when applying for senior positions?
- Does it increase transparency – can you check the effectiveness of your recruiting methods?
- Try it out for yourself – when choosing a new assessment, does it look reasonable; does it make sense; is the content clear, relevant, inoffensive and unambiguous?
- Put yourself in the shoes of the candidates – what is their completion experience like? What message are you sending to candidates by using psychometrics?
- What was the rationale for the development of the assessment – what is it designed to measure; does it have good quality research underpinning the assessment; how was the content produced and selected?
- What are the administration practicalities – is it online or paper and pencil; what feedback is available to candidates; is it easy to score and interpret? If online testing, how do you prevent cheating?
- What are the technical properties – is it reliable and valid; is it fair; are there norm groups / performance benchmarks available?
Assessments not suitable for recruitment
There are some personality instruments that are not designed for recruitment purposes although may be suitable for developing individuals in their role. Probably the two most prominent are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Insights Discovery Preference Evaluator (the ‘Colours Test’ as it is often referred to as). What is required when assessing personality are finer detailed traits such as those in the following profiles, OPQ, Saville Wave, Talent Q Dimensions, 16PF; these provide an excellent insight to improve decision making, at the recruitment stage.
When using aptitude tests it is important that you choose your test carefully. It should be clearly aligned to the Job Description and Person Specification. You will not get the result you expect, if you assess a person for their mechanical skills or spatial awareness, for an administrator’s role. Nor is it advisable to use a graduate test in an apprenticeship role for school leavers. It is also essential to use those test publishers that can provide details of the norm groups, ease of completion for candidates and so forth.
Psychological Test Centre – Independent Review Body
At Testing Talent we consider the independent evidence provided by the British Psychological Society’s, Psychological Test Centre. As a ‘Test User’ registered member we must meet compliance procedures and to maintain our competence in testing. Again you might wish to ask if the person undertaking testing on your organisation’s behalf is registered. For details of Dominic McCanny’s (Chartered Business Psychologist – Principal Testing Talent) registration, click below:
You can also access the Psychological Test Centre website and view a large number of reviews of personality profiles and aptitude tests as to their suitability together with much information on testing in general.
Interested in Psychometrics – Recommended Books
An excellent book we would recommend reading is The British Psychological Society’s ‘Psychometric Testing Critical Perspectives’ (2017) edited by Barry Cripps. This is an easy to read book and Rob Bailey’s chapter on HR Applications of Psychometrics forms part of this post. Another excellent book and again easy to read is; Psychometrics @ Work (2014), by Peter Saville and Tom Hopton.
Testing Talent provide specialist assessment services across the UK and Ireland and have built up over 20+ years the ability to identify those hidden talents, motivations and skills that you can only identify with the use of psychometric profiles and tests. For an informal discussion on selecting the talented people for your organisation, contact Dominic McCanny.
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