Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Psychometric testing in recruiting

Psychometric testing turns out to be a handy tool for recruiting potential employees. From the manufacturing sector to BPO, from FMCG to Banking, there is hardly any domain that does not require organizations to assess its employees’ personality.

Recruit the right people for the right jobs is an elusive art. The high rates of attrition and lack of candidates possessing the appropriate qualities bear testimony to the fact that organizations have not been getting their recruitment process right. When faced with such dilemma, However, though psychometric testing is not exactly new, organizations still haven’t been able to make most of it. Some HR units are not even aware of the concept and are completely oblivious to its benefits. The lack of inclination towards psychometric testing can also be attributed to the fact that it is slightly lengthy process to start with. Therefore, rather than trying to find out what lies beneath, organizations tend to carry on with traditional modes of selection, that merely test the candidate’s subject knowledge, or perhaps they are skeptical of treading unknown territory.

What are psychometric tests?

Psychometrics is a part of psychology concerned with determining a person’s aptitude towards different kinds of jobs. Psychometric tests are designed to produce a quantitative assessment of one or more psychological attributes like reasoning ability, interests, propensity, and disposition, etc.

A psychometric test is a structure technique used to generate a careful sample of behaviour. This behavior sample is used to make inferences about the psychological attributes of people, who have been tested on attributes like intelligence, self – esteem etc. By definition, psychometric tests may vary from organization to organization. Myers – Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and PF 16 are two common types of tests. However, the objective remains the same: to screen candidates at the initial stage of recruitment. In a majority the psychometric tests, there are statements or situations to which a person responds. There are also tests which have pictures and abstracts. The experts in the field advise Psychometric tests are highly reliable and the success rate is high, provided a standardized test is being used and depending on the objective it is developed for. However, psychometric testing should not be used as a stand alone technique.

Tests essentially fall into two main groups, ability and personality. Personality testing helps to build a profile of characteristic, behavioral style and personality. Ability and aptitude testing measure natural talent, and current and future potential. Psychometric tests are usually given in the form of paper and pencil questionnaires, but can also be computer-administered. In its simplest form, a test will have a set of questions or tasks for the subject to complete, known as test items. However, simulations like in–tray exercises which may consist of memos, letters, etc that give feedback on the abilities like organizing, decision, decision making and written communication are becoming increasingly popular in testing used by employers,’ says a Manager- Recruitments, of a large company.

Adopting Psychometric tests PT:

One school of thought argues they are not reliable, since a candidate may ‘dupe’ the test. Well… it’s not that easy. The prime objective of the test is to penetrate deeper and deeper into the candidate’s psyche. The multistage test strives to find out the most from a candidate. Some of the most important thing about the people cannot be easily done by observation and interviews. His/Her attitude, personality characteristics, abilities and aptitude cannot be viewed directly. Psychometric assessment is assessing a person and also measuring the psychological differences between people asserts a HR Professional. Also the results have shown that the accuracy level through psychometric tests is nearly 85% whereas through traditional modes, it is around 65%. The business scenario in India is getting more complex. Companies are also realizing that domain knowledge is not tha only trait a candidate needs to have; key attributes like EQ also play significant role in creating a win-win situation for all concerned. Psychometric testing is a useful tool while planning development programs for employees. It can also be used as an additional source of information as an behavioral aspects of a candidates personality as an aid for making hiring decisions post the interviews.

Psychometric Testing in India (like all over the world) is bound to grow rapidly- but there is a need to train qualified psychometric assessors.

However psychometric tests are not a panacea to all the recruitment maladies. They should not be used as a standalone technique and should be used as one of the special options of recruiters. At the same time, professionals also need to be specially trained to carry out tests. If this is done, candidate selection and hiring will become a whole lot less tedious.

Testing is also growing more sophisticated; apart from detailed questionnaires, data mining like finding out more about the music someone likes, the books they prefer to read and even the e mail IDs they choose can say a lot about an individual and his personality if used prudently. If used inappropriately, these tests can be quite useless and possibly harmful said a psycho-analysis expert in the field.

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