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Psychometric assessment:

the appliance of science
Updated: 20 Jan 2016

While psychometric assessment has become a key component of many recruitment processes, such tools are not a panacea for recruitment challenges, says recruiting experts Hays in Hong Kong.

In the latest Hays Journal, the recruiter notes that while psychometric instruments are becoming ubiquitous there remain some misconceptions surrounding psychometric assessments - from both employers and those job seekers taking such assessments - including that it involves purely testing.

"Many instruments are not tests," said Emma Charnock, Regional Director of Hays in Hong Kong & China. "Many assessments explore aspects of workplace behaviour, preference and motivation, as opposed to just ability.

"The principle of assessments is to gain insight into individuals" personalities, skills and competencies, which is why many employers also use such assessment at other times, such as when making decisions about promotion, training and development.

"For example, a test may imply that while you boast all of the competencies needed to be a successful salesperson, you lack the attributes that would put you first in the queue for senior management training.

"There are a range of tools available that organisations can use to explore numeracy, strategic thinking and the ability to deal with complex verbal challenges, as well as off-the-shelf and bespoke questionnaires. The data is used to build a picture of your overall strengths and aptitude, motivations, aspirations, preferred way of working and cultural fit.

"For employers considering using such assessments, it"s important to remember that they are not a cure-all solution to recruitment challenges. A person"s track record remains one of the best predictors of their future performance, and face-to-face behavioural-based interviewing is still recommended."

Tips for employers
For employers considering the use of psychometric assessments, Hays has this advice:

  • Ensure that only properly trained and qualified staff are responsible for conducting, analysing and reporting on psychometric tests and questionnaires. Make sure that the tests you are using are reliable and valid.
  • Be certain that there is a clear link between the test and the competency you want to assess; there are numerous psychometric instruments that explore very specific skills.
  • Assess people in their own language to give all candidates the same chance. When you are assessing executives in numerous countries, look for a test with parallel language versions.
  • Don"t set artificial cut-off scores to hire against, unless you can justify them statistically and legally

Monitor ongoing performance. Keep a record of an individual"s assessment results and compare it with their subsequent performance in the job to assess how useful psychometric testing has been for your organisation.

Tips for job seekers
You will inevitably undergo psychometric assessment at some point in your career. Hays advise candidates to:

  • Approach the assessment as an opportunity to further demonstrate your strengths.
  • Be aware that most assessments involve multiple-choice questions with right and wrong responses. This means they are an objective assessment of you and all other candidates.
  • Ask your recruiter for a sample test or take free sample tests online to practice. But remember, the assessment you take is likely to be unique to the particular role you have applied for. So while you can practice answering sample questions to become more comfortable with this style of assessment and to understand the types of questions asked, do not expect the questions to be identical.
  • When it comes time to take the test, read the instructions clearly and ask for clarification if anything is not clear.
  • If the test is timed, note how many questions there are so you know approximately how long to spend on each one. Work as quickly as you can while still reading the questions thoroughly.
  • If you are unsure of an answer, do not make a random guess. Instead, eliminate those answers you know to be wrong and try to make an educated guess from there.

View the Hays Journal or contact your local Hays office.

Hays, the world"s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.

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