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Two Strategies for Using Psychometric Testing on Job Applicants


For this article, I will assume you understand the value of including psychometric profiling and concentrate on types of profiles and where they are best used in the selection process.

Broadly speaking there are two strategies for testing job candidates. These can be classified as:

1. Assessments for screening out high risk candidates

2. Assessments for selecting in qualified candidates.

Let’s look at each option more closely.

Screening Out High Risk Candidates

These assessments are targeted more towards the selection of entry-level, hourly employees. Examples positions would be; call centers, warehouse, receptionist, administration, drivers, retail sales, etc.

Screening out assessments are always done early in the selection process. They are designed to identify the square pegs (unsuitable applicants) that will not fit into your round hole (your job position). They are good for filtering a large number of applicants quickly so as not to waste valuable management time getting too deep into the selection process with a bunch of turkeys when you are looking for eagles.

As a rule, screening assessments are very inexpensive – usually under $40. Most are provided on an unlimited usage license. This means you can test every candidate up front without blowing out your bank balance.

Screening tests are easy to administer via the Internet and tend to give you a good “snapshot” of an applicant’s workplace personality, mental ability and attitudes. Testing time is also fast at around 15 to 30 minutes, depending on what’s measured.

It is suffice to say that screening tests are best at predicting work attitudes and behaviours, but are not good at predicting future performance.

Screening tests are very good at telling you:

– If they will show up.

– If they will be on time.

– Will they steal (money, supplies, time)?

– Will they get angry or cause fights?

– What’s their attitude to drugs and alcohol?

– Have they got the mental ability to learn on the job?

Propensity to sexual harassment

Screening out instruments can be linked into an online application form driven off your career web page to capture and pre screen all applicants for knowledge, skill and experience (application form), the fruits of the tree. And personality, mental ability and attitudes (the psychometric tests), the roots of the tree. So very inexpensively you get the all the information before wasting time on lengthy interviews.

Selection Assessments

Selection assessments are deeper measures. Their prime purpose is to help you identify whether the round peg (candidate) you have screened in will fit comfortably into your round hole (your job and company culture).

The selection assessment usually measures personality, motives, values and mental ability in more depth. The results are usually linked to specific job competencies. As a result they are more expensive ($150 to $450) and used for the selection and development of employees in sales, supervisory, management and professional positions.

Because selection tests collect more information, testing time is longer, about one to two hours. As a rule, these assessments are administered on the final 2 or three candidates. However, we always recommend you test before the main interview.

Testing before main interview allows you to go into the interview process armed with the total picture. You also get supplied the interview questions based on the competencies required for the role. Also questions targeted to assessed weaknesses.

Remember, the main interview, if it is unstructured, will be the least predictive of job performance and be the most expensive tool you will use. Using a well constructed application form, pre-screening, or selection assessments will save you wasting a tremendous amount of time and money on interviewing and reference checking applicants that obviously don’t “fit” your position.

Selection Assessments are very good at telling you:

How an applicant will do the job.

– Why they are motivated to do the job.

– What potential or natural ability they have to do the job.

– How quickly they will learn the new job and skills and also their potential to learn and improve.

– How they will interact (colleagues and clients), cope with stress, work as a team, follow rules, negotiate, persuade, organize etc, etc.

These selection assessments have a wide range of reports for selection, development, and 360 feed back. Some can do instant benchmarking, build competency models and have an employee review interface – a total HR platform.

Many marketers of assessment profiles and systems are locked into one tool, it’s imperative to understand that no one assessment platform will suit all job positions.

Try and partner with an organisation that has business and academic experience in organisational psychology. Ensure that they have a range of solutions, and above all, be diligent that the assessments they are recommending are specifically for selection and have acceptable validity and reliability.

Making sure you have the right assessment strategy is one part of the jigsaw – ensuring you have a totally structured selection process will complete the picture.

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