Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Role of Psychometric Assessment in the Selection Process.

So, you`ve thrown your hat in the ring and applied for a new job.  You`ve written a captivating cover letter and submitted your polished resume.  You have your references lined up and primed.  And then you have a screening interview which you nail.  And now, the recruiter has asked you to complete a psychometric assessment. Why?  What can an assessment possibly tell anyone about you that your cover letter, resume, interview, and references cannot?

Psychometric assessments are gaining increased momentum in the recruitment world.   As part of the selection process, an assessment can help the recruiter and the organization to understand more about your abilities, potential, preferences or motivations – aspects that can be difficult to assess in other ways.  With the recruitment and training process being expensive, psychometric assessments are designed to assist the recruiter and the employer gauge whether or not your skills and behavioural style make you suitable for a specific role.  When chosen carefully to assess key job requirements, psychometric assessments  are known to be one of the best ways of identifying people who are ‘right’ for a specific role – that all important “job fit”`.

There are many types of assessments that measure different aspects of a person, such as intellectual functioning, aptitudes, personality characteristics, and interests.  If you are being considered for a senior role within an organization, you may be asked to complete a battery of assessments which may cover all or some of these areas.  If you are being considered for a mid-level or junior role in the organization, you will most likely be asked to complete one assessment which will generally focus on your personality characteristics.

Personality inventories are concerned with how you typically behave. They generally explore personality characteristics which are relevant in the workplace such as your motivation, values, communication style, and conflict management style.  The format of the inventory is usually a series of questions where you select your preferences from the statements presented.  There are no time limits and there are no right or wrong answers.

Many people have questions about the use of assessment in the selection process.  Perhaps the most frequent question is whether or not you can prepare for the assessment. That really depends on the type of assessment you are being asked to complete.  While it may be possible to prepare for the types of questions that are found on ability assessments by working on sample questions that involve numerical, verbal, and abstract reasoning, it is not really possible to prepare for those questions covered in a personality assessment.  The most important preparation you can do for any assessment is to put yourself in a positive frame of mind.  In the case of ability assessments which generally have time limits and right or wrong answers, it is important to complete the questions as accurately and efficiently as possible. When you are completing a personality inventory, honesty is the best policy, and you should answer each question in a forthright manner.  When you are completing any assessment, it is vital that you complete the work in a suitable environment – quiet and free from distractions.

Another very common question concerns the accuracy of assessments.  Reliability or accuracy is one of the key characteristics of a psychometric assessment. The need for assessments to be accurate is so well recognized amongst assessment users, that all good publishers will ensure that their assessments have been developed to meet established standards of accuracy. Research shows that when used appropriately, psychometric assessments are one of the fairest types of assessment for employment decisions because the accuracy of the information provided by psychometric assessments is far higher than other aspects of the selection process, for example the interview and reference checks. Good assessments are carefully developed to remove bias and are far more objective than many of the judgements made by human assessors. They also give all candidates a level playing field on which to demonstrate their abilities.

Finally, many people wonder how the assessment results will be used.  One of the most useful purposes of the results is to identify areas that the recruiter and the organization are interested in exploring further, and so form the basis of questions asked during the interview.  Also, if you are the chosen candidate, the assessment results may be used to craft a development or on-boarding plan that will be very helpful when you join the organization.

 It is very important to remember that when used for selection purposes, the assessment results form only part of the overall decision making process and should be used in conjunction with the résumé review, the interview and the reference check.

So, when you are asked to complete a psychometric assessment, it is best to approach it with an optimistic outlook and to view it as an opportunity to allow the recruiter and your potential employer to get to know you as thoroughly as possible.  Your assessment results will help determine if you are a good fit for the position, which means a greater likelihood of success in your new role if you are the chosen candidate. And remember, the assessment results may allow for the identification of your potential which you, the recruiter, or the employer would not be aware of otherwise.  It can open new avenues of development and/or new career paths that you never considered before!

Ada Shave , M.Ed.
Senior Consultant
Ada has been involved in the area of people development for over 20 years. Helping people reach their potential is her passion. As a Senior Consultant in our St. John’s office, Ada is responsible for the business development and delivery of services in the Career Transition, Assessment, Coaching and Human Resources Consulting practices throughout the firm.