Are you using the right psychometric tests for recruitment?

I attended a recruitment (un)conference recently and I was amazed at the the amount of people I spoke to who were using inappropriate, unreliable and invalid ‘psychometric’ tools for use in recruitment. At one point I was cringing so much that I was asked what was wrong with me. Someone was speaking about using a certain personality tool for recruitment purposes and it made me feel very sad / angry / worried / frustrated / incredulous that this was almost normal. Just because it’s popular and other people are buying it, doesn’t mean that it’s any good. I know that my clients want to be able to trust the psychometrics they use and be confident they are delivering excellent hiring decisions so here is my best advice for where you can start.

My Business Coach calls this reaction the “Goat of Noooooooo” and this is the number one thing that bothers me about the way organisations use personality profiling for recruitment purposes… they are falling for the marketing machine of some pretty unethical organisations, using unreliable, invalid and unfair tools for recruitment purposes.

So, I thought I would be helpful and created this decision tree to help you to decide on the best selection of personality questionnaires for use in selecting the right humans for your business!

When choosing a personality test for use in recruitment, answer these questions:

1. Was the test developed by scientists? Someone with experience in the behaviour of humans? Psychologists, Behavioural Scientists, Psychometricians?

In my discussions at the recruitment unconference I spoke to a number of people who use tests to aid recruitment decision making that were actually created by marriage counsellors and recruitment consultants. How has this even happened? This is the equivalent of me waking up one day and deciding to pop into a hospital to reattach someone’s severed leg… I have a couple of legs so should know how it works, right?

Never mind the lack of any kind theoretical framework underpinning the assessment or the personality questionnaire being based on evidence-based scientific research, how could this be justified in an industrial tribunal? We used it because our competitors are using it… we didn’t do our due diligence… we thought it would work…

Just because it’s popular and other people are buying it, doesn’t mean that it’s any good.

2. Does the personality assessment appear on  British Psychological Society’s Psychological Testing Centre?

Test publishers spend considerable time, effort and money on developing a test, why wouldn’t they just get the test reviewed by the British Psychological Society (BPS)? There are equivalents to the BPS in different countries. There are a bunch of reliable, valid and fair tools that can be utilised for selection purposes, which can stand the rigour of further investigation and independent assessment.

3. Do you have to be trained to use the test, or can anyone freely access it? Does the training lead to the ability to be registered as a Test User in the BPS Qualifications in Test Use?

These used to be known as level A and B. There is an easy way to check if someone has these qualifications… check the register! Is your psychometric testing partner on this register?

4. Are the people taking the test categorised into a ‘type’ – a colour, a series of letters, breeds of dog, a team type, a list of 5 strengths? Are they put into a box of some kind?

These tools are not suitable for the assessment of work styles / preferences / personality. They are unreliable, usually based on old science and not able to predict performance on the job.

Don’t get me wrong, these tests are fun to complete, easy to use and some of these might even be useful in the development of employees. I use some of these tools in employee development myself and I do enjoy a little bit of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) (ENFP, if you’re wondering), but NEVER for recruitment – the developers of the MBTI have said that the instrument should not be used in recruitment.

Imagine justifying this scenario in an industrial tribunal… Sorry, we don’t like dolphins in this organisation, we hired one once and it didn’t go well… we only hire monkeys and elephants… Seriously? No one wants to be in this position so if you would like expert guidance on choosing the best and most reliable psychometric for your recruitment process, please get in touch. I am on a mission to help companies get the best out of business psychology.

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  1. As a Chartered Business Psychologist this is a very useful article and one that would be supported by anyone wishing to avail of psychometric tests.

  2. Totally agree with Michelle, we don’t do gimmicks, boxes, labels etc but we do spend a huge amount of time with clients profiling jobs, managers, staff, environment before we even start looking a possible new staff.

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