Psychometric testing: Finding the right match

Psychometric testing has found a new home alongside more traditional recruitment methods employed by businesses large and small. How could it work for you in 2010?

After a tough 2009, which put massive strains on employers and employees alike, many business owners were forced to rethink their core-business operations. While it could be argued the global downturn didn’t hit Australia as hard as other countries, there were plenty of businesses still fighting hard to keep their books in the black. For some, this meant minor adjustments to advertising and marketing budgets, but others were forced to restructure and reduce staff numbers.

Psychometric TestingAs momentum in the economy picks up and business owners look to cash in on the improved conditions, the first half of 2010 will be a crucial time for employers. The increased number of jobseekers created by the downturn should enable employers to rebuild their workforce with a greater choice of talent. However, while it may be tempting to seek the quick fix, employers in 2010 are likely to approach every hire with caution as they learn from the effects of the GFC. A key learning will be to do everything possible to ensure that each new employee is the right fit in terms of skills, knowledge, experience, attitude and behaviour. Hiring for traits such as drive, optimism and empathy will also help to build a more resilient workforce; ideal for all the challenges that lie ahead in the future.

While there are many tools available to employers and HR professionals, psychometric testing is increasingly becoming a standard part of the recruitment process as it can help accurately identify and select employees with favourable traits, who are competent and have a good cultural fit.

The brass tacks

Psychometric assessments are questionnaires designed to measure an individual’s aptitude, ability, personality, behavioural styles, talents and motivation to help predict the way they will perform in a job. Employers can gain valuable insights into how a candidate solves problems, influences others, adapts and copes with challenges, and delivers results that cannot be measured by traditional recruitment techniques.

While the quality of psychometric assessments in the market varies, good assessments will be supported by research to demonstrate how reliable, accurate and predictive they are of an individual’s performance and behaviour.

Used during the recruitment process, psychometric assessment can be combined with other selection techniques to help employers make objective hiring decisions and be confident that they have found the most appropriate person for the role and culture of the business. Psychometric assessment can also be used for other HR functions such as success profiling, benchmarking, team building and individual development.

The process

Psychometric Testing ProcessTraditionally, a psychologist will engage with a client to determine the skills and attributes required for the role and select the appropriate type of assessment to target these areas. The candidate is briefed and assessments are usually conducted online. Once the assessment is complete, the psychologist provides the client with a written report analysing how the candidate maps against the required competencies.

The report also identifies further areas to explore in the interview; strengths and development areas; and the best management techniques to keep the employee motivated and performing at their optimum. While this may sound like a lot, from a client’s perspective, it is as simple as engaging with the psychologist to identify the desired attributes of incumbent staff and exploring the current workplace culture.

Not just for big business

The ongoing performance and productivity of both large and small business is dependent on the quality of the talent within the business. Often, in small business, the importance of a hiring decision is elevated as the introduction of a new staff member has significant impact both culturally and financially. This makes it even more vital to be confident in your hiring decision to ensure you are investing in high calibre, culturally compatible talent.

The value of assembling a strong team was well articulated by inventor and diplomat Benjamin Franklin who said “we must indeed all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately”. Psychometric testing offers tremendous value to small business by helping to ensure a team can work collaboratively towards success and keep well clear of the ropes.

–Kellie Rigg is the Head of Organisational Psychology for Randstad’s HR Consulting division. Randstad (www.randstad.com.au) is a Fortune 500 Company and the second largest HR services provider in the world.

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