Using psychometric testing main

Why you should use a psychometric test for recruitment

a woman talking to her colleague

Hiring can be a taxing and difficult process for you and your organisation to go through. One of the key issues that stems from this process is the doubt of whether the person you are considering hiring is truly the right fit, concerns often range from simply whether they possess a personality that will fit in with your workplace culture, to if they have the right cognitive ability to be successful in the position. This is where psychometric testing comes into the recruitment process. 

Psychometric testing is designed for employers to better understand aspects of a person’s character that often can’t be deciphered from a resume or standard one-on-one interview. Generally, these assessments are not used in isolation but can be helpful when evaluating three general characteristics that a person displays. Psychometric tests measure the skills, personality and competency of a potential candidate. 

When using psychometric testing, start with defining the specific requirements of the role. Evaluations should be completed against a list of criteria or benchmarks so you can identify the capabilities the right person might possess. Next, a structured, competency-based interview (asking for specific examples of relevant behaviour in previous jobs) is recognised as having the broadest usefulness in the selection process. 

There are aptitude tests – how people are likely to perform; intelligence – critical reasoning and thinking; and personality traits – measuring characteristics and tendencies. Some of these tests take a long time to conduct and require a psychologist to administer them and therefore can require significant investment. This is where you need to make decisions on how to invest in this process. You can focus the process on more highly skilled positions, instead of testing for all roles, or you can perform mass assessments, so you aren’t investing in multiple sessions that only have one or two participants involved at a time. While psychometric tests offer valuable insights, these tests should only be used as a part of the overall hiring process – as they can be somewhat skewed if the candidate knows how to answer – particularly for personality tests. Although most tests can actually detect if a candidate is doing this, it is not failsafe. So, to be really effective the tests must be used in conjunction with interviews and other checking mechanisms.

Complementary techniques used with psychometric testing

Apart from the one-on-one interview (which, if it is well run and planned, will tell you more than almost anything else) there is also:
Pre-employment screening of potential applicants – a significant portion of your time can be wasted by not adequately screening out candidates that aren’t suited to the position. Again, if criteria is not clearly set out from the inception, there can be temptation to invite everyone who applies, which can be a waste of time for all parties.

Assessment centre – typically used in a junior management or high-volume recruitment campaign, assessment centres involve role plays of specific scenarios, group activities, as well as interviews. These can also include a testing element and are ideal for achieving economies of scale.

Background checking – many prospective employers will only take time out of their busy schedules to look over written references. But you can’t just rely on a written reference to provide you with a personality report.  Most written references will only go as far as to confirm previous employment. Check into professional qualifications by contacting the association that issued it, and create time to call references to gain a deeper understanding of the applicant.

Numerical reasoning tests - If it's relevant to your industry, adding numerical reasoning assessments to your application process can provide reliable indicators of the future job performance of your new job applicant. They are used to assess an individual's ability to deal with numbers and data. This is especially useful for a job role that requires the handling of large amounts of numerical information on a daily basis, such as in accounts or finance.

Logical reasoning tests - This sort of aptitude test measures how well the applicant can think through problems. They will often take the form of a series of puzzles or pattern recognition exercises, and usually have a time limit to add pressure. This is useful for roles that require specific skills in on-the-spot decision-making such as in customer service or sales.
Skills testing – there are a range of different tests that target literacy, numeracy, coding and data entry available on the market to ensure prospective candidates meet your technical skill requirements. Simply run a Google search to see what is available. 
The ideal situation in which to conduct further testing is when you are confident of a candidate’s potential suitability. Keep in mind that there are no correct answers or wrong answers on a personality psychometric assessment, they just provide insights into how a potential candidate will function. Alone, psychometric test scores offer less than sufficient data on which to base a recruitment decision – remember that your approach needs to encompass skills, personality and competency. Use psychometric tests in combination with the other strategies we have listed to deliver candidates that will thrive in your organisation and in turn, aid in long term recruitment success.

Practice Tests

We recommend discussing the use of psychometric tests with an expert before putting them into use. You should also attempt some practice psychometric tests yourself, try various test publishers before picking a provider of online psychometric tests to go with.

Commonly asked questions about psychometric testing

What are the three types of psychometric assessments? 

The three main types of psychometric assessments are aptitude tests, ability tests and personality questionnaires. Each of these types has many subcategories, from situational judgement tests or verbal reasoning tests to numerical reasoning tests. 

What is a good psychometric test score? 

It depends on the norm group that you are comparing the applicant to. If the test is for a job in finance, for example, then the score should be interpreted in relation to the scores of other people who have taken the same test for finance jobs. The average score for most aptitude tests is around 50 per cent, with the top performers scoring in the 80-90th percentile. The test type also effects the passing score. While most psychometric tests have multiple-choice questions, other tests may allow freeform answers and so have a less strict pass/fail system. 
As an employer, you are free to set your own standards for psychometric test results. Depending on the role, you may only require a 40 per cent for verbal tests, but a 70 per cent for numerical tests. 


Search for candidates

Register a vacancy promo box kc

Woman registering a vacancy with Hays

Register a vacancy

Register a vacancy or request staffing assistance now.

Submit now

NZ Social Share