Can Psychometric tests improve diversity?

3 min

In recruitment, there’s no such thing as a completely objective process. However, in the pursuit of removing human bias, many businesses have turned to psychometric testing. Current estimates suggest  80% of Fortune 500 firms and 75% of organisations featured in The Times Best Companies to Work For have implemented psychometric testing, showing its popularity among some of the biggest companies in the world.

How does psychometric testing benefit the talent acquisition process?

The main benefit of this approach lies in the ability to gauge a candidate’s cognitive ability. By presenting all candidates with the same testing process, talent acquisition teams can use the results to make informed and hopefully unbiased decisions. The evaluation offers a standardised approach for every user and can be used to discover personality type, logical and numerical reasoning skills, and development needs.

The most commonly used Psychometric tests

  • diagrammatic reasoning for problem-solving
  • error checking gauges how a candidate identifies errors within information
  • numerical reasoning tests evaluate how good a candidate is at working with numbers
  • logical reasoning is similar to diagrammatic and measures an individual’s ability to think logically
  • verbal reasoning tests explore a candidate’s understanding and comprehension skills
  • inductive tests evaluate the candidate’s ability to think methodically
  • personality and behaviour tests can be used to indicate how well an individual will integrate within a business or team
  • emotional intelligence can be evaluated to support a culture fit

Not only do psychometric tests remove the risks from the recruitment process, but they also aim to negate unconscious biases which often go unrecognised. For example, an affinity bias which may lead recruiters and hiring managers to prefer candidates more similar to themselves. Through psychometric testing, talent acquisition teams instead focus on a candidate’s traits, aptitude and skill, creating a more objective result.

This approach can also be utilised on current teams, through the use of an assessment centre leaders can gauge the range of behaviour types and aptitude levels throughout their teams. From here, companies can make informed hiring decisions to increase diversity by intentionally looking for traits, knowledge and thinking styles missing from their current team in new hires. If they notice many employees are classed as extroverts and tend to make decisions on ‘gut feel, then employing someone who is more introverted and analytical will add new problem solving skills and, if integrated well into the team, should provide more balance. This benefits the diversity of a workforce as talent acquisition departments can see the variety of personality types in the application process and understand the impact of a new hire into an existing team.

Adding psychometric testing to the talent acquisition process

Psychometric testing is just one assessment method and needs to be utilised in the broader hiring strategy to be applied effectively. Not every candidate excels when presented with numerical and logical reasoning in a controlled test environment and may struggle with the format. 

If it is used as the soles means of testing, then companies risk missing out on high-potential neurodiverse talent.  Often psychometric tests are applied as a means of assessing applicants against a preferred standard, rather than being used to identify an individual’s specific strengths and often these tests are not reflective of the skills required in the role itself. 

Often when hiring for diversity and neurodiversity, companies are looking to hire people who observe and process the world differently to the majority. But the very difference these companies are looking to benefit from can put these candidates at odds with psychometric testing which has been developed with a ‘standard norm’ in mind.

However, if done correctly, the results allow talent acquisition teams to gain a unique insight into their pool of candidates. From here, a company can employ candidates with a range of personality types, skills and approaches to problem-solving, while eliminating unconscious biases through the objective nature of tests. 

Once psychometric tests are implemented, companies can find the qualities they’re looking for in typically unexpected candidates. Junior candidates can have the traits more commonly found in senior leaders, and experienced candidates can have all the innovation, agility and tech proficiency which they may otherwise have only expected to find in younger generations. 

One of our Talent Partners, Momodou Balajo, has taken an in-depth look into psychometric testing in his article ‘Using Psychometrics to Support Diversity’ from our Summer 2020 Edition of the Armstrong Craven Review. To learn more around this topic and how valid the tests are when promoting diversity, download the article today.

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