What is psychometric testing?

Psychometric testing, also known as talent assessment, is a standard and scientific method used to measure individuals’ mental capabilities and behavioral style. Psychometric tests are designed to identify the extent to which a candidate’s personality and cognitive abilities match those required to perform the role. Employers use the information and data collected from the psychometric test to identify the hidden aspects of candidates that are difficult to gain from a resume or interview alone.

Best-in-class psychometric testing tools are ones that have been developed by I/O psychologists and are scientifically validated and tested to ensure they are not only accurate in predicting success in a role but that are also objective and unbiased.

This is done by continuously gathering real-world test usage data, refining, and adjusting the tests, and using standard methods of psychometric testing so that everyone is presented with the same questions and instructions for completing them.

Our experience shows that psychometric testing is very reliable in predicting candidates’ fit and ability to perform the job for which they are applying, particularly for organizations in need of high volume hiring. The most powerful psychometric testing tools are those that are based on validated and customized Job Profiles that benchmark what success looks like for a particular role, company, and industry so that the psychometric testing matches specific hiring criteria.

Psychometric testing solutions are a cost-effective approach to narrow down a candidate pool by eliminating poor fit applicants in a faster, more accurate, and easier way. They eliminate human bias that can very often lead to poor hires as decisions are made based on gut feel or first impressions.

In fact, a post published in Harvard Business Review states that 75 percent of Times top 100 companies use psychometric testing or talent assessments when selecting candidates, and more than 38 percent of all companies use psychometric testing for recruitment. And, The Association for Test Publishers and Organizational Psychologists says there is a consistent 10 percent rise in the use of psychometric testing each year.

What is the meaning of psychometric testing?

Psychometric testing is synonymous with talent assessment. Psychometrics is a field of psychology that creates frameworks and concepts relating to testing, measurement, and assessment of mental competencies. The term psychometric is a combination of two words from the Greek language, ‘mental’ and ‘measurement.’ Therefore, psychometric testing measures and tests a person’s personality traits, knowledge, competencies, attitudes, values and behaviors – with the goal of assessing a candidate’s fit for a role based on the required competencies.

Talent assessments are science-based tools that have a direct and measurable impact on critical HR outcomes and are a valuable part of today’s hiring process for companies of all sizes

The use of psychometric testing dates back nearly 3,000 years when it originated in imperial China and was used to identify the top percentile of the country’s population to place them in the highest-ranking office and political positions. Since that time, the primary concepts of psychometric testing remain largely the same because talent assessments are science-based tools that have a direct and measurable impact on critical HR outcomes and are a valuable part of today’s hiring process for companies of all sizes.

According to a report by Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), there are several modern psychometric testing or assessment trends today:

  • Machine learning and analytics are introducing new assessment techniques.
  • Technology is enabling on-demand, online assessments with immediate results and feedback.
  • More firms are using immersive, compelling assessment experiences.
  • Organizations want personalized and contextualized assessments.
  • Candidate-centric hiring requires shorter, more transparent, and engaging candidate experiences.

What are the types of psychometric testing?

There are two main categories of psychometric testing – aptitude tests and personality tests. Aptitude tests measure a person’s cognitive or mental abilities, such as ability to solve problems, think strategically, and think on your feet. This type of psychometric testing is based on asking a series of questions in a specific timeframe.

Common psychometric testing tools that measure aptitude or cognitive ability include:

  • Verbal reasoning tests
  • Spatial reasoning tests
  • Sentence completion tests
  • Logical reasoning tests
  • Aptitude tests

Personality tests are aimed at gathering information on a person’s interests, values, and motivations. They measure your behaviors and relationships in a variety of situations to gauge fit with a particular role, culture, department, or organization. Many of these psychometric tests are not timed, allowing candidates to complete the assessment at their own pace.

This group of psychometric testing uses different tools, each measuring a different set of personality traits using a specific style of psychometric testing questions. Personality tests didn’t emerge until after World War I in the 1900s with the Woodworth Personal Data Sheet – used to assess psychological trauma in returning soldiers. Today, this type of psychometric testing is widely used by employers to determine a candidate’s fit within a particular culture or environment.

Some common psychometric testing tools used to evaluate personality aspects include:

  • DISC Personality Test
  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
  • 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire
  • SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire

Innovative psychometric testing or talent assessment providers offer one comprehensive assessment that measures multiple competencies and aspects from both groups of tests. This gives recruiters and hiring decision-makers a multi-dimensional image of a candidate, including their cognitive capabilities, personality traits, behaviors, and knowledge.

What are psychometric testing tools?

Psychometric testing tools are psychological assessments used to measure people’s cognitive abilities and characteristics, such as knowledge, skills, values, behaviors, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence. Psychometric testing tools are tests or questionnaires used to assess and measure these aspects of a potential hire.

Does the psychometric testing solution offer reports and dashboards that are easy to use and interpret?

Best-in-class psychometric testing or talent assessment providers have embedded business and HR knowledge, creating reports with businesspeople in mind.

When evaluating potential psychometric testing or talent assessment tools, use the following checklist to ensure you are choosing a trusted and reputable solution:

  • Is the psychometric testing tool objective and standardized based on how it will be administered, scored, and interpreted?
  • How long is the assessment? Generally speaking, it’s best to avoid being enticed by a short psychometric test offering big promises or a 10-minute assessment that claims to measure 30 competencies.
  • Is the psychometric testing tool based on sound, proven theories in partnership with, and scientifically backed by, I/O psychology principles and practices?
  • Does the vendor offer proven content and data to show it works and is validated?
  • Are the psychometric testing tools easily customized without a steep price tag? Ideal assessment partners utilize a technology platform that allows for easy configuration and will offer this customization as part of their typical pricing and deliverables.
  • Does the psychometric testing solution offer reports and dashboards that are easy to use and interpret? Best-in-class psychometric testing or talent assessment providers have embedded business and HR knowledge, creating reports with businesspeople in mind.

Finally, service and support is important when choosing any psychometric testing vendor. You want a provider that is responsive to your needs and flexible. Ask potential assessment partners to provide references of current clients to gain a first-hand account as to their level of customer service or ask for a demo of the psychometric testing providers’ system

What are some example questions and answers for psychometric testing?

Psychometric testing uses many different types of questions and formats to measure a candidate’s cognitive abilities, values, motivations, and behavioral styles. One example of a question type used in psychometric testing is an aptitude test that requires the candidate to solve problems, answer questions, or complete tasks in order to assess their ability think logically or perform a specific task.

The information collected from psychometric testing helps to identify hidden aspects that are often difficult to extract from a face-to-face candidate interview.

Here are some examples of questions and answers provided by SHRM that would be found on psychometric testing for verbal, logical, and numerical aspects.

Complete the questions below by choosing the most correct answer.

1 Innocuous Means the Same as:
  1. Harmless
  2. Preventative
  3. Distasteful
  4. Futile
2 16% of 62.5 is:
  1. 844
  2. 8.44
  3. 084
  4. 8.4
3 1 3 2 4 3 5 4 6 5
  1. 4
  2. 5
  3. 6
  4. 7

According to SHRM, cognitive ability assessments typically consist of multiple-choice items that measure various mental abilities, such as verbal and numerical ability, reasoning, and reading comprehension. These assessments have proven to be extremely useful predictors of job performance and are used frequently in hiring for many types of jobs. Some measure distinct abilities, whereas others measure a combination to provide a measure of general mental ability.

Psychometric testing for personality can use multiple-choice questions that assess a candidate’s behavior and attitudes to determine their potential fit with a particular supervisor, role, or organization culture. Example questions cited by SHRM include:

1 I have remained calm in situations in which others have become upset:
  1. Definitely true
  2. Somewhat true
  3. Neither true nor false
  4. Somewhat false
  5. Definitely false
2Choose which item is most like you and which is least like you:
  1. I persist with tasks until completed.
  2. I treat customer complaints with highest priority.
  3. I deal well with extremely stressful situations.

Another example is the DISC Personality Test that uses 28 statements each with four options for the candidate to rate how they identify with the statement. This helps identify a behavioral style for candidates that reflects the way they interact with others in the workplace and the ways in which they approach the job. The behavioral style assessment provides insights about on-the-job behaviors in relation to four different behavioral styles – Driving, Impacting, Supporting, and Contemplating. The behavioral styles are organized along two dimensions – a preference for change versus stability and a preference for tasks versus people. Each behavioral style has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Ultimately, psychometric testing helps organizations identify the right talent for the job and their unique organizational values, business goals, defined competencies, and more. When an organization continually hires the right people for the right roles, they better promote their brand and their employer value proposition. And, given that a company’s talent is arguably their biggest asset, psychometric testing can ensure they are accurately and cost-effectively identifying the best people for the job.

The use of psychometric testing also provides stability and structure to the hiring process, ensuring all recruiters and hiring decision-makers are working towards the same goals with objective, science-based criteria for each role. Modern psychometric testing or talent assessment solutions also provide hiring decision-makers with a targeted, customized interview guide that is based on a specific candidate’s assessment results – allowing them to more effectively zero in on aspects of the job or the candidate’s skill sets with the most relevant questions.