Psychometrics is the science of psychological assessment, and psychometric tests are assessments which provide a fair and objective way of measuring a range of attributes, such as interpersonal style and aptitude.
For a test to be ‘psychometric’, it must be standardised, reliable and valid. It should also be sensitive enough to show a ‘normal’ range of scores between a representative sample of people and be free from bias.
Psychometrics must be consistent in content, administration and scoring. As such, psychometric use is regulated and restricted to appropriately qualified individuals.
Most psychometric tests are now done online, although some test providers do still offer hard copy assessments. The variety of validated off-the-shelf tests assessments available, as well as the offering for bespoke tests for organisations, is increasing all the time.
There are other kinds of psychological tests used for specific purposes within different contexts, such as educational (to assess children in schools), in health settings for mental health services, and for assessing offenders. These are different from psychometric tests, and fall within the domains of Educational, Clinical and Forensic Psychology respectively.
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There are two main categories of psychometric tests:
Known as measures of typical performance, personality tests are designed to assess personal qualities, such as personality, preferences, beliefs, values, strengths, interests, motivation and drive.
Known as measures of maximum performance, Ability tests measure aptitude or attainment. There are right and wrong answers to these tests, and they are typically timed. Some Ability tests are ‘adaptive’, meaning they adapt to the answers you give, to adjust the level of challenge according to the test taker’s responses, remaining fair and consistent, without necessarily asking the same questions.
Personality questionnaires help us to understand more about how a person will typically behave at work, including their approach and values. This can provide an insight to interpersonal and thinking styles, emotional style, motivations and culture fit.
Although personality questionnaires are sometimes called tests, there are no wrong answers. There is not a ‘right’ personality type or set of values; simply differences between people, some of which are a better match for some roles, teams or organisations. They are used to help understand more about how we prefer to work and our fit with a job or workplace culture.
The results of a personality questionnaire are often validated though an interview. Sometimes this will be done prior to the formal interview or assessment process, or within developmental feedback or coaching.
There are a variety of different types of ability or aptitude tests, which can measure different aspects of cognitive or physical function. They are almost always timed, measuring both speed and accuracy. Some examples of these include:
- Abstract reasoning
Abstract reasoning tests are a measure of general intelligence which assess your ability to identify rules, patterns and trends within visual data sets to solve problems. Often these are used to help identify the capacity for strategic thinking and the ability to quickly grasp the ‘bigger picture’, and for roles requiring conceptual and innovative thinking.
- Logical or critical thinking
Critical thinking or logical reasoning tests measure aptitude for incisive, sequential thinking. This often includes reading complex text to deduce key information and draw accurate conclusions. These are useful for measuring capability for incisive thinking. Most logical reasoning tests also measure verbal acuity.
- Verbal Ability
Verbal reasoning tests assess the ability to understand and correctly extract meaning and inferences from written information.
- Numerical Ability
Numerical reasoning tests measure the ability to analyse numerical information and apply appropriate mathematical operations to identify the correct answer for a series of questions.
Situational Judgement Tests
Situational judgement tests or SJTs assess the ability to pick the most appropriate action in response to a given scenario. These could be Managerial judgements, or other decisions based on situations relevant to the role being assessed for, and are typically multiple choice questions for which there are ‘best’ answers, based on the responses of those already in post who do that job well.
Other work-based tests
Checking tests assess the ability to compare information quickly and accurately and check the correctness of data.
Mechanical Ability Test
Mechanical reasoning tests measure the ability to apply mechanical and physical laws to real objects and processes.
Dexterity refers to the ability of a person to use the fingers, hands and arms to perform a task. Dexterity tests measure the accuracy of hand and finger movements under controlled conditions, and are used for measuring the capability to do manual tasks at speed.
When are they used?
Psychometric tests are commonly used for organisational assessment, to help employers to compare relative strengths of candidates against the requirements of a role within a selection process. They are also used for individual development, to help increase self-awareness and enable people to develop their performance and increase their behavioural flexibility to become more effective within the workplace.
Personality psychometric profiling can be particularly valuable when recruiting Managers and Executives within organisations, to create the best fit between leaders and the organisational culture and specific roles.
Psychometrics are also a valuable development tool and are used by Occupational/ Organisational Psychologists and Executive, Performance or Career Coaches when working with individuals to help them develop greater insights into their own strengths, motivations, preferences and abilities, to improve their impact at work.
We would recommend using The Executive Hire Profile (EHP). This is an objective evaluation of candidates for the role in the context of the organisation’s strategic needs. The EHP provides an understanding of an individual’s psychological make-up, their strengths, potential derailers and their suitability for a specific role, team and culture. The EHP is based on a robust methodology and deep understanding of what it takes to be successful in complex organisations, and the psychology of human behaviour.
This profiling can either be for all short-listed candidates, or for a further short-list of candidates post practical assessment.
Candidates are requested to complete relevant on-line aptitude and personality assessments. In particular for the CFO role, we find the following tools provide a holistic evaluation of individuals:
- Leadership Judgement Indicator – a situational judgement test that provides information on individual’s preferences or comfort with different leadership styles as well as their judgement of how appropriate each leadership style is according to the task and people.
- Wave Professional Styles – an assessment tool that identifies best fit environments based on a comprehensive understanding of personal motives, talent and culture. It explores the underlying motives and drivers that underpin successful performance and provides predictive data about where individuals are most likely to thrive and deliver their best performance.
- Hogan Development Survey – this looks at very specific aspects of personality that leaders may exhibit when under pressure and can negatively influence their interpersonal relationships with others and interfere with the achievement of career goals
Aptitude and personality assessments will be followed up with a validation conversation between the candidates and a leadership Psychologist who will build a picture of the individual’s interpersonal skills, intellectual style and psychological make-up. The output of this stage is an executive summary outlining the individual’s:
- Intellectual functioning in terms of overall capacity and style of thinking.
- Motivation make-up and interpersonal style.
- Leadership style.
- Strengths & potential derailers.
- Interview questions and probes for the assessment process/ final panel.
A comprehensive performance report will be provided post-assessment.
Middle/ Senior Manager Profiling
We use the ‘light touch’ version of the Executive Hire Profile model for middle/ senior level managers. This includes the Wave Professional Styles and Leadership Judgement Indicator tools, and generates a report based on working and leadership styles, preferences and motivations. This model adds richness to the selection process with detailed information about the candidate’s ability to perform, fit and make an impact in an organisation.
The results and report provides organisations with an indication of the candidate’s strengths as well as areas of concern to probe further during the selection process. The detailed and personalised feedback also gives candidates welcome insight into their natural preferences and ways of working.
We use a selection of appropriate psychometric tools to provide objective, actionable information about an individual’s leadership potential and create a detailed report which is then followed up with two telephone/ video call coaching sessions. These coaching sessions explore the findings of the psychometric report in terms of working styles, preferences and motivations and use these to create a strengths-based development plan using the specific context of the organisation’s needs. With permission, the line manager is invited to join part of the second coaching session to learn more about how to support the individual and contribute to the discussion around development needs and objectives.
Using psychometric tools carefully chosen to match your aims, we can facilitate a greater level of self-awareness for benefit individuals, teams and organisations.
Developmental coaching based on psychometrics supports the growth of leaders, encouraging behavioural change to enhance individual and collective performance.
Other Psychometric tools
We have access to a range of psychometric instruments which we can use with your clients.
We can discuss with you which might be best to support your organisational aims.