5 Ways Psychometrics Improve Hiring and Development

“Do psychometrics really work with regard to hiring and development?”

After all, people are the most valuable asset in an organization, so it makes sense to explore all avenues for hiring the best talent. In considering personality tests for that purpose, everyone is looking to gain a competitive advantage, but no one wants to waste money.

However, companies may be asking the wrong question. They shouldn’t be wondering whether psychometrics instruments work; they should be asking, “Are we using psychometrics instruments correctly?”

Most companies are using scientifically validated instruments offered by legitimate assessment companies, not some dollar-store questionnaire or a free phone app. The purpose of an authentic psychometric tool is to quantify personality drivers, and a well-designed and properly constructed assessment will do just that. How companies apply the findings determines whether it “works” or not.

Unfortunately, some users of psychometrics-based assessments view the tool as a crystal ball that can magically reveal whether a job candidate is “good” or “bad.” In fact, assessment results are merely data, and the results are neutral without context. It’s what businesses do with the data that makes assessments useful.

On a fundamental level, companies would use the tool by comparing an applicant’s personality drivers to the known requirements for the position they are looking to fill. Consider a Staff Accountant role in this scenario. Ideally, management would look for applicants with detail orientation, extended task focus, and responsiveness to rules and structure. On the other hand, a CFO candidate should display strategic thinking, business acumen, and influential communication as drivers. Even within the same functional area--accounting in this example--different motivators are needed for different roles.

But treating assessment results as a one-and-done value is selling short all the ways psychometrics tools can improve and support overall hiring and talent-management effort. Here are five reasons to incorporate them into the hiring process that go beyond simply identifying strong candidates:

  1. Psychometrics improve consistency in hiring practices

    Companies that use psychometrics-based assessment tools on an enterprise-wide basis are able to ensure all applicants, regardless of functional area, are screened on identical criteria.

    A properly constructed assessment instrument is EEOC compliant and removes race, gender, age, and disability factors from a job candidate’s psychometric profile. While no hiring or promotion decision should ever be based solely on the results of an employment assessment, such a tool can act as an internal filter in limiting unconscious assumptions.

  2. Psychometrics reduce hiring-manager bias

    Some managers have slightly inflated egos and believe the true and only path to great performance is by hiring people just like them. If they’re perfect as managers, it only makes sense to bring in others who are almost as perfect!

    The problem with that approach, besides its utter subjectivity, is that it overlooks some important facts: It takes different sets of motivators to successfully perform different jobs within a department, and having a team with a diversity of talent always trumps putting a bunch of people in a room with redundant skill sets.

    Once the attributes required for success in a given role are known, teams can hire based on objective job models instead of on biased “gut feelings.” And on the subject of job models…

  3. Psychometrics enable management to measure applicants against top performers in similar roles

    Pre-employment assessment results would be useless if there was no way to sort the information in a meaningful way. The good news is that the practice of psychometrics has been around for quite a while, and extensive research has gone into connecting the results of past assessments with top performance in different jobs and industries.

    In a study conducted of 300 new sales hires across a range of industries and company sizes, researchers found that companies, by integrating a valid assessment into the hiring process, can double their chances of hiring a top-quartile salesperson.

    What this means for HR professionals and hiring managers is that their applicants’ psychometric profiles can be compared to top-performance metrics for critical positions. For example, if a company is hiring a salesperson, they can see how well the applicant’s personal drivers measure against the ideal-performer job model.

  4. Psychometrics provide a foundation for analytics data

    This is the age of big data, an unstoppable wave of complex statistical analyses that are informing everything from athletic performance to marketing strategies to the development of artificial intelligence technology. Many companies are collecting and utilizing big data on all aspects of their businesses, including talent management.

    By collecting psychometrics data on existing team members, it’s possible to identify high-potentials and future leaders, reorganize for improved performance, and spot organizational talent gaps.

  5. Psychometrics lay the groundwork for employee development

    Many HR professionals fail to get their money’s worth from assessment results by discarding the findings once the hire has been made.

    Here’s a secret about psychometrics data: They don’t just show performance drivers and motivators; they reveal inhibitors as well. Imagine someone is hired to oversee a branch location or a small business unit. This individual’s assessment results suggest strong communication, an ability to influence customers, and composure in challenging situations (all desirable attributes in such a role). However, the results also indicate the new hire might have difficulty getting organized and coordinating people and resources. Such findings would enable management to know where the support is needed and where coaching efforts should be focused.

In an ideal world, applicants would always line up perfectly with the top-performer job model for a given role. In reality, people have weaknesses and often need coaching and support to overcome them. With psychometrics results on hand, companies skip the painful step of finding out the hard way what new hires’ limitations are. Such data can support onboarding and training plans, coaching and development, and grooming for future promotion.

To learn more about Caliper and special discounts to NAWLA members, visit www.calipercorp.com/nawla.


To learn more about how to enhance your hiring process, visit www.calipercorp.com or email info@calipercorp.com.

Caliper is a human capital analytics company leveraging decades of data and validated assessment results to predict and select high-quality candidates. Caliper partners with all types of organizations, industries, and sectors – from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses and from government agencies to non-profits. We help companies reduce the risk of bad hiring decisions; build high-performing teams; and engage, develop, and retain their employees. Contact us to learn more.

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