A Complete Guide to Using Psychometric Tests in Recruitment | Toggl Blog
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A Complete Guide to Using Psychometric Tests in Recruitment

Post Author - Mile Živković Mile Živković Last Updated:

Do you want to save time and money for your company, all the while hiring the very best talent in the market? Who doesn’t, right?

We’re not here to sell snake oil but rather introduce the idea of psychometric tests as a method for screening and hiring the best candidates. They’ve been around for centuries, and in their latest versions in the form of online tests, they are incredibly powerful tools for recruitment.

Here’s how you can use them to scoop the best talent off the market and make the right (data-backed) hiring decisions.

TL;DR — Key Takeaways

  • A psychometric test is a standardized test that measures mental capabilities, personality traits, and behavioral styles.

  • Psychometric tests can be great for recruitment because of their many benefits: fair candidate evaluation, prediction of future job performance, drawing up a character profile, identifying leadership potential, and improving candidate onboarding and retention, among others.

  • There are three main types of psychometric tests: aptitude tests, personality tests, and situational-judgment tests.

  • While these tests work exceptionally well in recruitment, it’s important that you do them using the right tools and have a professional interpret the results if you want the best hiring outcomes.

Shortlist candidates with skills-based hiring tools

What is a psychometric test?

A psychometric test is a standardized way to measure a person’s mental capabilities, behavioral style, and personality traits. Psychometric tests measure various capabilities, from cognitive ability and verbal reasoning to numerical reasoning, problem-solving, and more.

The term “psychometrics” was coined by Francis Galton in the late 19th century. However, psychometric testing didn’t become popular until the late 20th century, when test publishers started using them for hiring, among other things.

What are recruitment psychometric tests?

In a typical recruitment process, a psychometric test is a tool that allows hiring managers to see employees’ cognitive ability, behavior styles, interests and values, communication styles, personality traits, and more.

For example, you might use a psychometric test in the recruitment process when:

  • You have a large pool of candidates and want to slim it down to only the top performers

  • You have several amazing candidates and want to see which one is the best cultural fit

  • There are several potential candidates for a promotion in your company, and you want to assess who would be the best leader

When crafted carefully and by experts, psychometric tests can be invaluable hiring tools, be it for hiring new team members or promoting internally.

What are psychometric tests in recruitment?

Why are psychometric tests used when hiring?

When hiring new employees, psychometric tests can help you determine how proficient a candidate is at performing certain tasks. Depending on how you use psychometric tools, you can also use this test type to determine their key character traits, cognitive skills, and potential for future job performance.

Top tips to enlarge those brains Top tip:

A psychometric assessment can help you objectively determine whether someone is suitable for a role or not — without even inviting them in for an interview.

While that might seem a bit impersonal and cold, it saves you and the candidate time, helping you weed out unsuitable candidates for a particular role while also allowing job applicants to demonstrate their unique abilities without having to schedule time for an in-person interview or be submitted to stringent personality profiling.

Benefits of using psychometric tests during the recruitment process

Psychometric testing is beneficial to most hiring processes, but psychometric tests work better if you understand how they fit specifically into your organization’s hiring process — whether they’re necessary or not, when they’re most useful to administer, etc.

Regardless of how or who you’re hiring, though, here are some of the many benefits of psychometric testing for hiring purposes.

Fair candidate evaluation

A psychometric test can help reduce some of the many biases that naturally happen during typical hiring processes. For example, a recruiter could be performing an interview and unconsciously favor someone who has excellent interviewing skills, but they’re lacking in the hard skills department.

When all candidates go through the same psychometric testing process, it means everyone is treated fairly and measured against the same criteria.

In this way, psychometric tests are similar to other skills tests (including aptitude tests and hard skills tests) as they level the playing field and help hiring managers generate a test score they can easily and objectively compare to other candidates for a particular job.

Unconscious hiring bias is not only legal pitfall, but it also leads to hiring subpar candidates.

Prediction of job performance

Although they’re not always 100% accurate (no test is), a psychometric test can predict how well someone will perform on the job if hired.

For example, candidates with strong results on numerical reasoning tests are likely to be better data analysts than those who underperform. But before choosing a psychometric test for a specific role, you need to determine what skills are relevant for that position.

Take a good look at the job requirements for a specific role and write down what’s necessary and what’s good to have. Don’t limit it to hard skills alone. Also, define which soft skills and cognitive abilities a candidate should have to succeed in the role.

Doing this not only helps you choose the right psychometric test but also ensures the test results accurately predict job performance.

Character profile

A psychometric test can give you an accurate overview of an applicant’s character. This includes:

  • Cognitive abilities such as verbal reasoning, problem-solving, and logical reasoning

  • Their interests and values

  • Their behavioral style (decision-making and problem-solving approaches)

  • Their motivations and drivers

  • Their preferred communication style

  • Their stress tolerance and resistance

All of these insights can help you determine if someone is going to be a good culture fit for your company — before anyone even talks to the candidate.

Identify leadership potential

For leadership roles, hard skills are only one piece of the puzzle. Psychometric testing helps you determine if someone would be a good leader or not before they even get to the interview stage.

Whether you want to hire a new leader or upskill your existing workforce to become leaders, you can do this with a psychometric test. For example, you can identify someone’s:

  • Emotional intelligence

  • Strategic thinking skills

  • Situational judgment and adaptability

  • Communication skills

  • Self-awareness

  • Empathy

  • Relationship management

Top tips to enlarge those brains Top tip:

Not hiring right now? You can administer these tests to your existing employees to determine which ones are the most likely to turn into leaders and have the power skills required for the job.

This data can help you create succession plans and leadership development programs, focusing only on the most promising employees in your team development programs.

Better candidate onboarding

Most psychometric tests will tell you candidates’ strengths and weaknesses. Not only can you use this for more data-driven hiring, but the information is also essential in creating a better onboarding process.

By learning about their preferred ways of communication, collaboration, problem-solving, and more, you can tailor your onboarding program to fit their learning styles, interests, and needs as an employee.

For example, if someone is an extrovert who prefers a more hands-on approach, you can assign them an onboarding buddy to guide them through the process. On the other hand, someone who is more of an introverted problem-solver would be more appreciative of written/recorded onboarding materials.

Increased employee retention

Simply put, psychometric tests and personality tests help you hire better candidates. Not only that, they help you hire the right candidates for your team.

By making better hiring decisions, you reduce turnover, as employees who are a good fit in every sense of the term stay longer. Because you know their preference and character traits, you can better accommodate them in your team, leading to higher job satisfaction and, ultimately, better retention.

What are the three types of psychometric assessments?

There are different psychometric tests for different situations.

For example, you might use logical reasoning tests at the beginning of the hiring process to filter high volumes of candidates and applications. Or, you might use an aptitude test to assess a candidate’s career suitability.

Whether you’re testing spatial reasoning, situational judgment, or a candidate’s ability to read instructions carefully, there’s a psychometric test that will help you gain insight and objective data. Here are the three main psychometric tests for the purposes of hiring.

Aptitude tests

Aptitude tests are designed to test one’s innate ability to perform certain tasks. Instead of measuring current performance, they test the future potential for acquiring a certain skill or succeeding in a certain area of work.

One good example is abstract reasoning tests, where candidates solve abstract problems and recognize patterns. Abstract reasoning tests measure potential analytical performance, and they’re great for assessing how someone will perform in jobs where critical thinking is of the essence.

Personality tests

As the name suggests, a personality assessment tells you a candidate’s typical behavior, emotions, and interpersonal reactions.

For example, a personality test could reveal that a candidate performs poorly in terms of conflict resolution or has low emotional intelligence.

Despite their incredible hard skills, you might use the results from the psychometric assessment to reject them because their role requires a high degree of collaboration and high emotional intelligence.

Situational judgement tests

Situational judgment assessments are a type of psychometric testing where candidates are given hypothetical scenarios and asked to come up with a solution.

For example: Two of your employees are in conflict and ask you as the manager to resolve it. These are great for testing problem-solving and decision-making.

Extra: Skills tests

Skills tests such as Toggl Hire can be a type of psychometric testing. If someone with a background in psychology creates a skill test, they can include relevant psychometrics assessment questions.

For example, a product manager skills test can include questions about everything from communication and leadership to more technical-related skills like product development and product management frameworks.

Product manager skills test example

How to use psychometric tests for recruiting

Just like any other type of hiring tool, you need to know the ins and outs of psychometric assessments to get the most out of them.

Choose the right psychometric test

For a psychometric test to be relevant for hiring, you need to choose the right test for the job (pun intended). The test should align with the types of skills and personality traits required in the role you’re hiring for.

For example, verbal psychometric tests would work well if you’re testing candidates for customer-facing roles. On the other hand, situational judgment assessments (SJTs) for conflict resolution would be excellent for testing candidates in critical roles like project managers and team leads.

Use tests at the right point in the hiring process

Thanks to the advent of online psychometric tests, administering one is super easy. But just because they’re easy to find doesn’t mean you can cram them in just anywhere in the hiring process.

The most common point at which employers use psychometric tests is in the pre-screening or the initial application stage. Along with submitting their basic application information, candidates complete a form of a psychometric test. If you have a large candidate pool, the results will help you filter the very best ones quickly.

Another situation where psychometric tests can come in handy is after the initial application but before the interviews. Once again, the test performance will cut down on the larger applicant numbers.

Top tips to enlarge those brains Top tip:

It’s important to remember that psychometric tests are best used in combination with other assessment methods, such as job interviews and hard skills tests.

Provide clear instructions

For psychometric tests to be effective, candidates need to know what they’re doing and why. Make sure the candidates know what they’re being tested on, what your goal is, and what the results entail. Last but not least, give clear instructions on how to do the test.

This ensures that the person taking the test is prepared and less anxious. As such, your results will be more accurate and reflect their true skills and personality traits.

Top tips to enlarge those brains Top tip:

It’s also a good idea to give practice psychometric tests or at least practice questions to candidates so they know what the format is before going in. Practice tests are especially useful when testing your own employees. If you’re scared they’ll dislike the format before purchasing, you can try plenty of free psychometric tests online before committing to a paid one.

Analyze, interpret, and track results

All types of psychometric tests (excluding skills tests, which off specific scores) give you results on candidates’s scores in terms of ranges. There are no right or wrong answers, and you’re getting an assessment of the test taker’s personality or cognitive ability.

Interpret the result by analyzing how well their score aligns with the role you’re hiring for. For example, candidates should score well on verbal reasoning tests if they’re hiring for a communications or marketing role.

To get accurate results, use reliable testing software to determine what the score means. Additionally, having trained professionals review the results helps with accuracy.

Make informed decisions

Depending on the stage of the hiring process where you use them, one of the many benefits of psychometric tests is that they can help you reduce the vast number of initial applicants or make a call between a handful of the very best ones.

Regardless, use them to make data-driven hiring decisions.

Let’s say a candidate scores poorly on a verbal reasoning test, and you want to hire them as your new PR manager. With this information, you can remove them from your talent pool because you have data-backed evidence that their communication skills are sub-par.

Does psychometric testing work in recruitment?

Unfortunately, like many things in the hiring world, the answer is — it depends.

For general recruitment, psychometric tests are pretty effective at showing how suitable someone is for the role, how prone they are to learn on the job, and what kind of culture fit they will be.

One research revealed that 81% of companies believe they make better hiring choices because of psychometric tests. Of course, you may need an ideal candidate profile as a starting point to get the best results.

But relying solely on psychometric tests isn’t ideal, either. Depending on the way you administer tests, the candidates can rig the system and choose the “best” or correct answers they think you want to hear as the employer.

Also, like any test, it discriminates against people with poor language skills, learning disabilities, or those who are just bad at test-taking. That’s why it’s always important to combine any type of recruitment testing with other tactics like phone screens, in-person interviews, and homework assignments.

Tip: These tests should be administered by professionals to get the best results. You shouldn’t rely on free tests you find online that aren’t backed by some sort of methodology or professional in the psychology field.

Free example psychometric tests

At Toggl Hire, we’re preparing to launch our own psychometric tests in the upcoming months. Our team of experts is working hard to create the types of psychometric tests that will be invaluable help with hiring.

Until then, you can check out some of our other skills tests, such as our critical thinking test, cognitive ability test, and problem-solving test, which all help test your candidates for logical reasoning and related skills.

And the best part is — you can start for free and make better hires today! Create your free Toggl Hire account now to browse our available personality and soft skills tests.

Hire the right candidates with skills assessments
Mile Živković

Mile is a B2B content marketer specializing in HR, martech and data analytics. Ask him about thoughts on reducing hiring bias, the role of AI in modern recruitment, or how to immediately spot red flags in a job ad.

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