Where can assessments be used?

Psychometric assessments are a scientific method of measuring aspects of ability (like problem solving), skills (like numerical reasoning) personality (like assertiveness) and many other personal attributes.  There are literally millions of assessment instruments available. Psychometric assessments make visible aspects of human functioning and behaviour that are difficult to gauge by other means. They are used to guide individuals, groups and organisations to make informed decisions regarding new hires, promotions and development in general. Assessments are often used to identify strengths and growth areas, map development or progress, inform decisions regarding suitability for a job, and to identify training and educational needs.

How does the process work?

Most often companies will request assessments when they want to select candidates for a particular role. The assessment company will request a role description, generally consisting of competencies required to succeed in the role. We will create a test battery consisting of assessments that are most suitable. The candidate will be assessed over a period of several hours. A candidate consents to undergoing psychometric assessments, and the results can only be utilised for the express purpose to which the candidate has consented. Some assessments can be done independently by the candidate, while others are done under supervision. There are countless options regarding the type and mode of assessments. There will generally be a mix of ability, personality and skills instruments. There could be a roleplay, a case study or some form of immersion exercise. Some assessments as timed, others are not. Results of the assessment process are available within 48 hours of completion, and feedback is given to the client and the candidate separately.

How are the results presented?

An psychometrist or psychologist will produce a report reflecting the results. There are various types of reports, some are more detailed than others, depending on the audience. While candidates can use the results to understand their profiles across the various tools, clients will use the results along with other measures used in the recruitment process (such as interviews and refence checks). Ideally selection committees will integrate all the candidates information at their disposal to make a well informed decisions based on multiple sources of data. Assessment results are highly confidential and only shared with appropriate stakeholders. Candidates are always entitled to feedback on their results.

When an organisation is paying for the assessment process the candidate will usually give their consent that the appropriate individuals or structures within the organisation will have access to their psychometric information for use in the agreed upon purpose. In the case of recruitment processes, as these are often confidential, most organisations contract with the assessment provider to only provide feedback once the selection process has been completed in totality.

Recruitment: Reports should assist with providing an independent measure of potential, focussing on the individual’s competencies, personality, ability, aptitude and motivation. By using different types of assessments alongside other selection methods such as structured interviewing, CV’s and references checks, it is possible to better understand an individual suitability for a particular role, as well as their potential performance within the role. Further to this, after a candidate has been hired, the assessment report can provide valuable insights into development program and training for the successful candidate.

Development / Coaching: The purpose for development and coaching is to bring about improvement in individual and teams in a range of areas. Depending on the initial brief, career development reports are forwarded to both the individual undertaking the assessment and/or their coach, line or HR partner. Information from the psychometric assessment and career development counselling process can help a manager to identify appropriate best-fit roles for an individual, to facilitate training, development and/or to provide an environment that promotes the optimum performance and commitment of the individual.

Why use psychometric assessments as part of recruitment process?

When done correctly, psychometric testing can substantially increase the likelihood of selecting the right candidate for a job and retaining them. While these assessments come with a cost, it is less than the cost of having to continually re-hire employees. In fact the cost of the assessments is likely to be only a fraction of the candidates first month’s salary. That’s a worthwhile spend given that assessments reduce the risk of a bad hire by over 80%. In contrast, interviews rely extensively on intuition, and are subject to a swathe of invisible biases that skew decision making. Assessments, while not perfect, are neutral and scientific. It is more challenging to assess personality than skills, however the science has come a long way, and the distortions that appear in personality testing can be controlled and monitored. Typically, a psychometric test will never be used in isolation, but as one component of a wider, integrated evaluation strategy.


Authors – Hilton Rudnick and Matthew Webb