Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. With conflicting reviews and an endless range, it is important for companiesto ensure the tests they use on their people are credible and meet theorganisation’s requirements. Keith Rodgers investigatesFaced with thousands of different types of tests, lingering controversy overinternet-based measurement techniques and a host of legislative complications,it is hardly surprising that some HR managers approach psychometric testingwith a degree of trepidation. The occasional horror story about its misuse –from firms that fired individuals because their results were ‘wrong’, toorganisations that adopt it as the basis for redundancy selection – haven’texactly helped. The reality, however, is that psychometric testing is widely used among TheTimes’ 1,000 companies and beyond. Championed in many instances byhighly-qualified professionals from the psychology field, it has a longpedigree and well-established best practices. Not only are online mechanismsmaturing, but the application of testing continues to expand into new fields,complementing its traditional role in the recruitment process. Applications arenow in areas such as employee development, managerial decision-making andimproving workplace relationships (see below). Organisations that use this testing, however, do need to bear certain challengesin mind. Robert McHenry, chairman of OPP, says the first priority is findingthe most suitable instruments to use. He believes there are some 5,000published personality tests available, of which only 20 are top quality. Thereare another few thousand aptitude offerings, so it is important to be confidentthe test is credible and meets your organisation’s specific requirements. In addition, the quality of reporting remains a concern. Many computer-basedtests generate crude results that are little more than a series of pre-written‘observations’ triggered by the associated response. Testing output isultimately only of value when the candidate’s answers are analysed in thecontext of other biographical information, and interpretation is key. E-testingcompany ASE, for example, matches individual psychometric reports against itsclients’ competency frameworks, examining the output against the specificrequirements of each role. Likewise, feedback to respondents – whether job applicants or employees –needs to be carefully handled. OPP asks customers to sign up to a code ofethics that covers a number of sensitive issues, from basics such as keepingresults confidential, to ensuring employers don’t use the output to challengeindividuals about what they think or feel. “Testing can be intrusive,” says McHenry, “so you need tomake sure you protect the integrity of the individual.” This awareness extends to legislative responsibilities, and organisationsneed to ensure that their procedures clearly meet their responsibilities underthe demands of race, sex, disability and data protection legislation. Experts also advise HR practitioners to be inclusive. One large financialservices organisation found that its biggest challenge in adopting onlinerecruitment was gaining acceptance from managers used to handling CVs andmanaging the process themselves. Faced with a mix of practical and emotionalresistance, it had to invest significant amounts of time managing expectationsand demonstrating tangible benefits. Roy Davis, head of communications at SHL,argues that HR should also involve IT from the outset when online testingproviders are being selected, given that there will be security and othertechnical implications. Above all, as Neville Osrin of Hewitt Bacon & Woodrow points out, thereis a danger in putting too much credence on the tests. One company heencountered fired staff on the basis of their responses, regardless of theiractual performances at work. The key is to contextualise, viewing tests as oneelement of a broader exercise. Looking forward, psychometric testing will increasingly be seen in thecontext of a broader human capital management remit, and its effectiveness willultimately be measured in new ways. As companies look for a return on the timeand money they invest in testing, organisations will seek statisticalvalidation that will help them hire the right kind of talented individuals, whostay with the organisation long term. What is psychometric testing and why do organisations use it?While many people think ofpsychometric testing as a recruitment tool, a number of organisations areadopting it to help with employee development, management training andpersonality-based workplace issues.Andrew Hill, managing psychologist at occupationalpsychologists Pearn Kandola, has used testing to help organisations with a widerange of development goals, including improved decision-making and conflictresolution.Rooted in Jungian and Freudian psychology, the tests helpindividuals understand key dimensions of their personality, such as whetherthey are introverts or extroverts, how they gather information, how they makedecisions and whether they tend to seek closure of an issue or hear out all thepossibilities. This process helps establish key differentiators in the waypeople work. Are they detail-focused, or do they like the big picture? Do theystep outside a problem and tackle a high-risk decision logically, or do theyput themselves into the situation and assess risk in terms of whether theywould personally be comfortable with the answer?These factors have come into play in numerous scenarios. At oneclient site with a high focus on worker safety, the tests allowed two feuding middlemanagers to understand what motivated each other and they learned to worktogether more constructively. Managers at the same site were also able toanalyse their own decision-making capabilities.Neville Osrin, of Hewitt Bacon & Woodrow, also uses testingto assist in personal development. In a 360-degree appraisal, for example, amanager may receive feedback explaining that they are inaccessible.Psychometric testing will help them analyse their behaviour towards staff andunderstand which innate traits they need to counter-balance. Sussing psychometricsOn 10 Jun 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.