Psychometric Testing – Is It Measuring Madness?

Psychometric testing is used primarily by recruiters as a very broad brush approach to measuring a candidate’s relevant strengths and weaknesses. The results are then used to assess the candidate’s employment suitability and company-candidate fit. These tests are widely used but can we rely on these predictions?

psychometric testing

What if the candidate is a perfect fit for the job because the test says they have the right level of skill and personality to suit the demands of the position but in reality, the candidate’s true interests and values don’t align? This is when we have people who are perfect on paper, they have the skills to do the job, but it’s not what they would really do best. What people do best is working in jobs that they love, where they are inspired, challenged and feel valued. Unfortunately, most of our career decisions are based on which company we should work in, rather than what career we should follow.

Psychometric testing shouldn’t be taken as gospel. Human beings are complicated. Our interests change, our priorities change and what we look for in a job changes – constantly. As you can guess, I’m not a big fan of these tests but they can be useful in certain situations. They can help a recruiter determine if the candidate has the right level of skill and they can also give job seekers a general sense of career direction. Where they fall down is that they give job seekers little information about their skills and career needs and don’t give the recruiters a whole picture of the candidate.

The best assessments available are the Myers Briggs Indicator and Kolbe Instinct Test which consider learning styles, personality types and a person’s natural instincts. Surely tapping into this information would give recruiters a better indication on how a person would perform on the job, rather than relying on the fact that they have the skills to do the job? For instance, you may have the skills to lead a team, but do you enjoy doing it and does it come naturally to you?

In saying this, at some stage, you’ll probably have to sit for one of these tests if you’re going through a recruitment agency so here are a few tips to help you prepare:

  • Although I can’t be 100% sure what tests you’ll be given, it’s likely you’ll be doing a combination of ability and personality tests to determine if you’re the right candidate. Employers want a behavioural profile of you which will be a combination of your skills, intelligence, personality and cultural perspective.
  • Recruiters will let you know in advance what tests you will be taking during the initial screening process. Before you take the test, read through the job description and contact the recruiter directly to talk about the role and to find clues about what attributes the right candidate is expected to have. You can also find some free online psychometric tests to practice on before the big day.
  • Be true to yourself. Don’t answer the questions in the way you think they want them to be answered. You’re only cheating yourself in the long run.

Recruiters – what do you hope to achieve from these tests and how do the questions you ask result in the conclusions the test will reach. I would love for someone to clear this up for me. Job seekers – what good/bad experiences have you had with psychometric testing? I’d love to hear about them.


About Bronwen Kaspers

Recruitment Consultant - Big Data and Digital for 33Talent in Sydney
This entry was posted in career, career change, careers, freelance, job hunting, job interviews, Job Seeking, jobs. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Psychometric Testing – Is It Measuring Madness?

  1. Pingback: Psychometric Testing – Is It Measuring Madness? | Roscrea Job Club

  2. Pingback: Job Woe – ‘Joe’ for short | Someone else thought it first

  3. bettsdan says:

    Great blog post. I once applied for a marketing position within an up-and-coming organic foods company. The interview went superbly and I had an instant rapport with the nice lady who was running the interview.

    Then, out came the psychometric test. An orange was unceremoniously plonked on the desk before me with a pencil sticking out of it and I was asked to write an advertisement for it.

    Needless to say, I only wrote two words on my piece of paper and one of them was ‘off’.

    I didn’t get the job.

    To me, an interview is about assessing whether somebody is right for the job on an interpersonal level. If you’ve approved the CV and covering letter, then the rest is about understanding how they will fit within an existing team. Psychometric testing to me screams of a distrusting company afraid of taking a leap of faith in a potentially great candidate.

  4. trumpetpage says:

    Great comment Dan. So many great candidates get overlooked because we believe the tests are the most accurate measuring tool for company/candidate compatibility. I say go back to basics – trust your instincts. If you feel the candidate is the right fit after getting to know them, then they probably are a good fit for the role.

  5. Pingback: Why Psychometrics is Driving Us cRAzY | Urban War Strategy

  6. the Urban Strategist says:

    Thanks for writing this article! It was recommended to me after I published my own on Psychometrics on WP. I would completely agree with you. There’s a lot of hype around psychometrics however I would argue that it’s based off of concrete thinking, as opposed fluid thinking and human circumstance. It really disables people to shine at their best because it is developed for a very specific sub culture of workers. I have to be honest, as an HR professional, I tend to not like these sub culture people. My other concern is that HR (who primarily studies admin duties), is given this much power over someone. Assessment can be very intimidating, and no one wants to be judged. I believe that few HR professionals are capable of using any kind of assessment tools accurately because it is not a part of their core training. I would hope that one day HR has training in Social Work to study assessment and profiling not in measures of what’s “agreeable” to the people at the agency (because work culture changes, and there’s turnover), but rather I want more helpful answers, such as whether someone has anger management issues, if they suffer from alcoholism, drugging, if they have criminal or deviant behaviour, and so forth. Psychometric testing is as good as a personality quiz in Cosmo. I think for those who solely rely on it, we might as well move to hire by astrology signs next. What’s the point if you’re not going to investigate strengths? Oye.

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