Pyschometric tests used for staff development

While the use of psychometric testing is most commonplace during the recruitment and selection process, according to a recent survey by Personnel Today’s sister organisation, pay specialist IRS, firms are also using the tests to help develop existing staff.


The survey of 88 employers – with a combined workforce of just over 300,000 people – showed that 94% use such tests when recruiting and selecting staff.


However, psychometric tests are also widely used to help existing staff better understand their skills, abilities and personalities, with almost half (49%) using the tests for developmental purposes, and 35% using them as part of career coaching and career management.


The internet has had a big impact on the administration of tests, with 65% of employers now choosing to conduct their tests online.


However, while many employers believe internet-based testing is easier to use (91%), faster to administer (96%) and offers better value for money (67%), paper-based tests were still the most popular medium, being used by 78% of the respondents.


Employers tend to use a variety of tests, with 31% using four or more in tandem. But they prefer off-the-shelf products (89% of respondents).


Some (8%) prefer to use tests that are specifically designed for their own purposes. However, they tend to reserve the use of such customised tests for instances where they expect a high volume of recruitment for the same type of vacancy, or where the position is highly specialised.


According to the Chartered Institute of personnel and Development’s (CIPD) Recruitment, Retention and Turnover survey in 2008, tests to check specific skills are the most popular type (48% of respondents). This is followed by general ability tests (41%), literacy and numeracy tests (40%), and personality and aptitude tests (35%).


According to a factsheet on psychological testing published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, a number of factors should be taken into consideration to ensure the best value for money, including:




  • Openness: individuals should be warned in advance about the tests and any procedures involved


  • Confidentiality: access to test results should be restricted


  • Screening: a single test should not be used as the basis for sifting candidates, but using several may be appropriate for shortlisting purposes.

The survey results show that most employers tend to follow the CIPD’s advice. Almost all (96%) warn candidates in advance that they will have to complete the tests. And 86% provide information on the type of test they will have to complete.

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