By Monique Glass
(Industrial and Consulting Psychologist, HR Network, Johannesburg)
Typical things that are overheard outside the psychometric testing venue:
“What are psychometrics! I have no idea what to expect?”
“I am so nervous about doing psychometrics. I am sure my results will be bad!”
“I know I am not good at maths so I will probably fail?!”
Typical things that are overheard after being regretted for the job:
“I didn’t get the job because I’m too shy and introverted”
“They said I would not be a good organisational fit…what does that mean?”
“I don’t understand why they would tell me that I won’t be able to operate at the right level of complexity”
One of the biggest challenges that psychologists and psychometrists consistently face is test and performance anxiety in the psychometrics assessment space. It is a strange phenomenon that seems to plague the environment of psychometrics. In a utopic world it would imagined that a candidate will arrive at a test venue and having them tell me that they’re ecstatically happy and can’t wait to complete psychometrics and gain invaluable personal insight that this process can yield.
Test anxiety is always real at a number of levels however it is a phenomenon that we believe is integrally linked to an individual’s motivation and understanding of the purpose of the assessments. In other words, how much emphasis or weight the person is putting on the results of the assessment as well as their perceived understanding of the use and interpretation of assessment data.
Case 1. (This is a real case, which has been adapted for the purposes of the article):
Candidate A has applied for a job after being regretted for the last three that she has applied for. A new opportunity has come up and she had a hugely successful interview with the recruiting manager. She is informed that she will have to complete psychometrics, which she is anxious about but willing to complete in order to get the job. She is desperately unhappy in her existing role and therefore is placing huge emphasis of successfully completing psychometrics and being selected as the “top” candidate for the interview.
This example illustrates the ways in which circumstances and environmental pressure can impact negatively towards test anxiety. In this case it should also be noted that Candidate A therefore overemphasised the importance of the psychometrics. Psychometrics were her be all! As a case in point, despite her anxiety she was the most appropriate fit for the job. This selection decision was based on a series of criteria including structured and competency based interview data, referencing data and other validation (credit and criminal checks), skills, experience, qualifications, candidate value system, personality and team contribution, ability to manage complexity and coping profile. This kind of holistic recruitment strategy has been proved as adding significant validity towards mapping candidate success in a job (Judges, Higgins & Cable, 2000).
This is exactly the kind of methodical and holistic offering than you will find from HRNetwork. We believe in the potential of psychometrics in order to gain self-insight into personality, emotional intelligence, values and individual aptitudes and so the list goes on. Therefore although psychometrics are often positioned in the recruitment space in order to make effective recruitment decisions they actually hold equal weight in the development space. The following list of applications give light to the use of psychometrics in a development space:
- Understanding team dynamics and valuing individual difference and contribution.
- It might include embarking on an individual coaching intervention where psychometrics are a tool for understanding your stress profile and coping ability.
- An organisation might also use psychometrics to profile their workforce, map organisational competence with job performance in order to more scientifically succession plan.
- There is nothing that precludes the use of psychometrics before a major merger/acquisition process or change management scenario to probe organisational readiness.
- Other scenarios have included the design and development of customised emotional intelligence and personal effectiveness interventions, which match a workforces needs. In this case an Emotional Quotient profile would be used as a diagnostic tool.
- Psychometrics can also assist us in determining competence and aligning individual and team purpose with business growth performance and success.
- Career psychometrics can allow individual confirmation of aptitudes and well as facilitation of mid-life career change or re-alignment. The configurations and uses for psychometrics are limitless when their purpose is strategically aligned.
Therefore one should not be fearful, anxious or ignorant towards the inherent value of an empirically researched tool that adds both reliability and validity to many organisational processes (Judges, Higgins & Cable, 2000).
Now we are not saying that psychometrics are the be all of every organisational or individual intervention however we see that they can add significant value. However, we do not think that psychometrics are the end all for yourself as an job applicant or a manager receiving results. Take control of the situation by contacting us to find out more or by enlightening yourself about what psychometrics are and their multitude of uses. Allow psychometrics to empower you in whatever role you are playing within and organisational context or within your personal environment.
Judge, T., Higgins, C. A., Cable, D.M. (2000). The employment interview: A review of recent research and recommendations for future research, Human Resource Management Review, Volume 10, Number 4, pg. 383-406