With recruitment costs and the pressure to attract talent increasing, Jacqui van Loen outlines the benefits of psychometric testing and explains how to choose the right supplier for your organisation.
According to a Daily Telegraph survey, 70% of British organisations use some sort of psychometric test as part of their recruitment procedure.
The psychometric test industry has produced an expanding range of tests which assess values, interests, leadership, and behaviour. One search on Google will show thousands of entries under the heading ‘psychometric test’.
But which one is the one for you? Can you trust the test to measure what it says it is measuring? Do you want to measure personality, ability, motivation, leadership? The list goes on.
The key is to choose a supplier that will be able to deliver the right psychometric test for your company. These suppliers have expert consultants that will issue and interpret the assessment, giving HR and the candidate independent feedback.
So how do you know that the supplier is an expert in the field? The British Psychological Society and CIPD has a recommended list of suppliers; some either publish their own tests like Quest Partnership, who publish identity, or there are suppliers such as Hogrefe or Pearson, who publish and sell other peoples tests after rigorous research.
Many consultancies use tests that they have purchased such as PCL and Team Focus who use the Hogan Tests (HPI, HDS etc). Whether these suppliers publish their own or others’ assessments, what they all have in common is that the tests have gone through a vigorous amount of testing to see whether it is reliable and valid, before it is sold to the HR department.
There are two levels of training set by the British Psychological Society – Level A and Level B. Level A covers test administration and gains you entry to use aptitude and ability tests. Level B is for personality and interest tests. In order to do Level B you must first complete Level A.
Many companies offer training courses in psychometric testing. These range from three to five days. Typically the course will involve a number of assessments and submission of various pieces of evidence for your competency portfolio. Costs can vary from £1,350 plus vat for a Level A course, which spans over four days, to just under £1,000 plus vat for Level B. It’s not cheap, but if HR staff use the tests as part of recruitment, then it increases the chance that the right candidate is employed, and with recruitment costs rocketing out of control, this is one training need that can pay for itself.
Once trained, you can then register with the publishers of tests and start to use them. However, many will ask you to complete their own ‘conversion course’. This introduces you to the publisher’s own tests and how to use and interpret them. It’s their main business so before you go ahead, ask a few questions:
- Firstly, how reliable and valid are the tests and what norm tables were used? The norms are important as they show what type of people the test is benchmarked against. One psychologist, Lucy Breason says: “I always ask the test provider who the norm group are; I normally look for the working population in the UK for recruiting junior management.”
- What do you need the test for? Ask yourself, is the test going to be used for recruitment purposes, developing staff, team building etc? And once you have asked your candidates to do the test, what happens next?
- What do you want the test to measure? Tests can measure all sorts of areas, the most common are personality and ability with numerical and verbal reasoning tests, but they can also measure emotional intelligence, motivation and leadership.
- What kind of reports will be issued? Most assessments are online and come with their own set of reports for the trained individual to interpret and feedback to the candidate. However if you are not trained in Level A or B then many test publishers offer a bureau service which acts as a consultancy. Mark Watton, a psychologist at Hogrefe says: “If a client wants a psychometric test but doesn’t have the required training, then we will come into their office and do it for them. We then offer feedback to the test user and to HR.”
- Will it be cost beneficial for HR to be trained in psychometric testing or would it be better to get in a consultant? Being trained in psychometrics is certainly worthwhile if your company plans to use assessments long term and on a regular basis, but if you need just a one-off psychometric test, calling in an expert will save you time.
Psychometric assessments are a tool that HR has at its fingertips, and with the rising costs of recruitment and the pressure to retain talent, it is a tool that most companies can’t afford to be without.
Finding the right consultant who can supply psychometrics will give the HR department an expert outsourcer; plus being trained in the process not only adds to the HR manager’s own skills but provides a return on investment for the company.
Jacqui van Loen is from HR-Index.