With psychometric testing you can…

1. Attract better staff

It is now widely accepted that organisational success is to a large extent dependent on the hiring and motivating of talented staff. Andrew Hill, head of assessment at occupational psychologists Pearn Kandola, argues: “Psychometric testing is as much about liberation as it is about putting people into boxes. When it is used well, it helps individuals to become more self-aware, and this psychological well-being is motivational for existing staff, and attractive to potential staff.”

2. Make selection more objective

Psychometric testing forces HR to think more clearly about roles, what attributes those roles require, and what those attributes specifically mean. It also reduces dependence on interviews, with several accompanying benefits. Objective facts become as important as interpersonal relationships in selection, and companies avoid the trap of using interviews as a way of finding people who are the same as those who already work there. Companies can also sidestep candidates who are good at interviews, and little else.

3. Reduce selection mistakes

Hiring the wrong staff is costly. Advocates of psychometric testing claim that it makes selection more accurate. Marina Aldridge, head of resourcing and recruitment at The Audit Commission, explains why she uses it for graduate recruitment. “We spend a lot of money on training graduates. It is important to be able to predict which ones will pass their [audit] exams in four years’ time. We expect the new tests we are introducing will give us a much clearer idea of which candidates will succeed.”

4. Lower recruitment costs

The tests cost about £10-15 per candidate on average, and even for a chief executive role, they are unlikely to exceed £50. By weeding out more candidates before inviting them to interview, an organisation is able to lower travel expenses and administration costs. Even more significantly, it is possible to reduce the time senior executives spend interviewing candidates.

5. Minimise legal risks

Psychometric testing can also reduce the risk of being sued by candidates claiming they were rejected for reasons other than competence or suitability.

6. Recruit faster

By pre-screening candidates using an online system of psychometric tests, an organisation can speed up its recruitment process. Accountancy firm Saffrey Champness used to take 11 months to hire its graduate intake, and by that time, 50 per cent of the offers were rejected because the candidate had already received a better offer. By using online testing it reduced its hiring time to four months, and because it now makes offers ahead of the competition, 90 per cent of them are accepted.

7. Measure the recruitment process

Proving the effectiveness of a hiring strategy is always difficult. Richard Alberg, chief executive of test creators PSL, believes that in certain cases, testing can do this. “Scoring helps to pin down something ephemeral, and the scores can assist employers in making a fairly clear return on investment calculation of the effectiveness of psychometric testing. They can particularly do this when they hire a lot of staff, can distinguish clearly between good and average performers, and when good performers produce considerably more value for the organisation than average and poor performers.”

8. Improve credibility

Simply using psychometric testing tends to improve the credibility of the process. Other departments recognise that HR is taking a more ‘scientific’ approach to the hiring process. It makes it clear to candidates that the role, and the person in it, are valued. Investors and customers may also be impressed. But Gwyn Rogers, director of Kaisen Consulting, points out the dangers of relying too heavily on it as a result. “Credibility plummets when major decisions are made solely on the basis of psychometric testing,” she says.

9. Build teams

Psychometric testing allows individuals to find out about their own strengths and weaknesses, and also about those of the people around them. This promotes more effective working relationships and improves team performance. As Fiona Dent, Ashridge Management School’s director of executive education, puts it: “Introducing people to an issue and to different ways of approaching it can have a real impact on interactions in the workplace.”

10 Enhance management and development

In the same way, managers are likely to communicate better and have a clearer understanding of the needs of employees. Training and management in some organisations is often focused on less talented staff. As Robert McHenry, chief executive of business psychologists OPP, argues: “Using psychometric testing can enable an organisation to use its training and management budget more efficiently by focusing on the staff with the most potential. At the very least, it provides a clear and objective basis for a conversation about individual development.”