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Three ways to enhance the value of psychometrics


Are you wasting money on psychometric assessments? Ron Eldridge outlines three areas of focus that would help you use them to much greater effect.

UK organisations spend around £100 million a year on psychometric assessments...and then use them in the wrong way. You could get much greater value from your assessments if you focus on three key areas.

1. Focus on cultural fit

As part of their recruitment, many organisations only use verbal and numerical reasoning tests. These tests are easy to adopt - because they have right and wrong answers - but they only give a very limited picture. They’ll tell you if an individual is intellectually suited to the job but they won’t show whether that person will fit in and whether the actual job will fit their career aspirations.
The rationale behind using ability tests is that if you recruit highly competent people, they’ll enjoy their jobs and they’ll stay with you. But just because your candidates are the brightest, it doesn’t mean they’ll be engaged.
If those who succeed in landing a job find that aspects of the work fail to meet their expectations, they’ll feel dissatisfied and resentful. Quite simply, people will leave if there’s a disconnect between the expectation of what the job will entail and the reality of the workplace. 
Yes, objective assessment and selection tools can give an indication of a person’s ‘potential’ to be good at a particular job, in terms of the abilities and preferences required. But there is a difference between ‘person-job’ fit and ‘person-organisation’ fit. For example, someone moving from Google to the Department of Health may be absolutely right for the job but the difference in cultures between the two organisations may create an issue. Likewise, a nurse moving from a cottage hospital environment may suit the job but not the organisation if the new role is in a major city hospital.
A better bet would be to use personality questionnaires in the recruitment process because an individual’s personality has been proven to be a critical part of job performance - it often dictates whether or not you will succeed in a role.
If organisations put together more realistic job profiles and mapped out the sort of person they were looking for with more thoroughness, a personality questionnaire could help recruiters to select against the exact characteristics needed for the job.
Then, by linking back to the individual’s personality at an interview, you could have an open and honest discussion about what it would actually be like if they came to work at your organisation - particularly what it would be like in their department. Whilst there may be an overriding organisational culture, the culture of the IT group, for example, will differ from that of the sales & marketing function. By understanding their personality and preferences, you could create more realistic expectations and you could discuss what would make them happier and more engaged at work.
The advantage of this is that you’re more likely to recruit someone who is a better fit for the role: someone who will probably enjoy their work and perform well. Also, any candidate who is unsuccessful could at least be given an in-depth psychometric report providing a clearer idea of what type of job and organisation would be a good ‘fit’ for them. By giving people a greater insight into their capabilities and personality preferences you can help them to understand more about themselves - and at the same time strengthen your employer brand.

2. Focus on development

Organisations primarily use assessments for recruitment. However they can also be used to empower individuals to take responsibility for their careers and to gain a better understanding of their development needs.
For example, personality questionnaires could be used to help existing employees to appreciate how their preferences add value in their current role and/or in the role that they desire. The resultant personality profiles could be used to encourage employees to reflect on their strengths, their career goals and their aspirations.
Much more could be done in assessment training courses. Currently, these don’t spend enough time training users in how to give feedback based on the participant’s profile. Individuals should be given help and guidance to enable them use psychometric assessments to spark better and more meaningful development conversations.

3. Focus on everyone

Assessments can be expensive, which is why organisations often only use them for graduates, managers and senior executives. In an ideal world, everyone in the organisation would be given the opportunity to use assessment profiles to better understand their strengths.
Would the cost be prohibitive? Actually, no. A top-of-the-range personality questionnaire, which generates a 15-page report detailing your team role and work preferences, is now available entirely free of charge. You can also download free worksheets to help individuals act on their results.
So, there’s nothing to stop you using a personality questionnaire to sift, select, develop, engage and motivate your entire workforce. What’s more, you could even divert the money you’d otherwise spend on assessments into retaining and engaging the people already employed.
Focusing on these three areas could help you to reduce recruitment costs; enhance retention; improve bottom line performance, due to less employee ramp-up time and disruption to teams, and increase overall employee satisfaction.
Ron Eldridge is managing director of assessment company FindingPotential which offers a free online personality questionnaire.

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