Hiring the candidate who seems to have all the "right" answers may not be best, especially if you don't ask the right questions in the first place (check out our article on The Three Essential Questions You Should Ask Prospective Employees). Choosing the candidate with the best reference isn't a guarantee either – what if the person giving the reference will say anything just to be nice? And hiring someone because you "feel good" about them certainly has its place – but what if your “gut” feeling in this particular instance lets you down?
To recruit effectively, it's best to take the guesswork out of the process. The more reliable information you can gather about a person, the better. You want as complete a picture as possible of the candidate's skills, experience, competencies, personality, and aptitudes.
Given the costs, the pain and the lost opportunity that comes from a poor hiring decision, would you like to remove as much guesswork as possible when you hire? One method that companies use to do this is pre-employment assessments. These assessments are designed to give you reliable and valid information about a candidate – information that a CV, interview, and references may not provide.
Psychometric Assessments can improve hiring practices. When you combine information from these tests with properly thought-through structured interviews, you add considerable predictive power to your selection process.
Why Use Psychometric Assessment When Recruiting?
Ask yourself the following questions:
In essence, managers use psychometric assessments to address rigorously the most significant situations where recruitment has failed in the past, or the highest risk areas where it could fail in the future.
However, as with all business activities, use of assessments takes time and has a cost, so they should only be used where the benefits gained more than compensate for these costs.
Types of Assessments
The key to using the right assessment – and making best use of everyone's time and resources – is to know what problems you're trying to address with the assessment. Here are some common types of assessments, and the typical reasons for using them.
Ability and Aptitude Assessments
These are used to predict success across a wide variety of occupations, typically in people who have not yet received much training in the skills needed for that occupation. In essence, what you're trying to do is identify "natural talent" for the work, which you can then develop.
Mental ability assessments generally measure a person's ability to learn and perform particular job responsibilities; they focus on things such as verbal and spatial abilities.
Skills Assessments and Assessment Centres
These assessments are used when you're looking for skilled people, and you want to ensure that the people you hire are sufficiently skilled to do a good job. These tests are typically used to measure knowledge and skills that are relevant to a specific position. There are two basic types:
These types of assessments are generally used where attitude and fit within a team are of major importance; these are designed to evaluate characteristics such as motivation, conscientiousness, self-confidence, or how well a person might get along with co-workers.
There are usually no right or wrong answers to questions, so you may look for "desirable" responses (or in psychometric terms, “critical competencies”). A weakness of these assessments is that people may be able to "cheat", by guessing what these desirable responses are. However, sophisticated personality assessments typically build in deception scales, which can detect if the test taker is trying to respond in a certain pattern. Another vulnerable area of these types of assessments is the fact that they are self-perceptive; in other words, if John believes he has a high attention toward detail, his scores will similarly be high. This does not mean that he IS attuned towards the detail in reality, however. Only an ability assessment would be able to accurately demonstrate his true attention to detail.
Honesty, Integrity, and Values Assessments
Useful across almost any business setting and particularly where you have a strong business need for especially high ethical standards, these assessments look at honesty characteristics as well as integrity, truthfulness, and personal values. They're used to assess company security as well as cultural fit. Some of these assessments ask very obvious questions, and others use "disguised purpose" questions to identify undesirable traits such as insubordination and theft.
Considerations for Recruitment Assessments
When used for the right purpose, professionally developed assessments registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) that are part of a planned assessment program should help you select and hire more qualified and productive workers. However, you must understand that all evaluation tools are subject to errors – both in measuring a characteristic, such as verbal ability, and in predicting performance criteria, such as success on the job. This is true for all tests, regardless of how objective or standardized they might be.
Be sure to consider the following:
Sometimes assessment scores may predict that people will be good workers – when, in fact, they are not. It's also possible for candidates to be rejected due to low scores – when, in fact, they would be very capable and loyal workers. Because of these selection errors (which can stem from the incorrect critical competencies selected, to the wrong type of assessment used in a particular battery of assessments).
Remember that psychometric assessments are only one of numerous ways used to evaluate a candidate's abilities.
Use good judgement when you interpret and analyse test results, and review their use periodically to make sure that they're actually giving you the results you want, in terms of improved recruitment outcomes.
Business owners and Recruiters – Do you want to make sure that you are getting the best service and recommendation of assessments from your current supplier? Contact Holistan today for a no obligation meeting, where we will analyse your assessment battery per role, and provide you with a comprehensive summary of the critical competencies tapped.
Employees – Have you completed psychometric assessments, but never received feedback on the results you have? Have you received feedback, but felt incongruent with what they revealed? Get in touch with us; we’d be happy to interpret your results, and draw up a Personal Development Plan to help you actualise in your current role – or develop the necessary competencies you need to move into a role you aspire towards.
Our contributors collectively boast a wealth of experience in assessments, HR, organisational development, change management and more!