Psychometric Tests | Demystifying the ‘What’ and ‘Why’
When an upset customer is describing a problem, which action should be avoided?
a) Spending too much time listening to the customer’s description of the problem.
b) Gently asking the customer to calm down so that you can help.
c) Suggesting that the customer speak to the manager
d) Promising to follow up on problem resolution
As candidates, we would have come across such questions in our recruitment process. As employers, we have force fit them somewhere in the recruitment, giving it a bloated name – ‘Psychometric Testing‘ although not clear enough as to what purpose Psychometric Tests serve. Sometimes we even wonder if we’re incorporating Psychometric Tests just because rest of the world is.
What is the all the fuzz and fad about psychometric tests? Are they of any significant value?
What are Psychometric Tests?
Psychometric tests are partly designed to assess the cognitive skills – decision making skills, abstract thinking, problem solving skills, and primarily to understand innate behavioral traits of candidates. And that part of psychometric tests designed for assessing behavioral traits are called Personality Tests.
Types of Personality Testing Models
1. The NEO Personality Inventory well known as Big5 Psychometric Tests
The NEO Personality Inventory is most commonly used for pre-employment assessments as a part of recruitment.
They are based on 5 major traits:
Conscientiousness describes a person’s ability to exercise self-discipline in order to pursue their goals. High scorers are organized and determined, seek for long-term achievement. Low scorers are impulsive and easily sidetracked.
Extraversion describes a person’s inclination to seek stimulation from the outside world, especially in the form of attention from other people. Extroverts engage actively with others to earn friendship, admiration, power, status, excitement, and romance. Introverts, on the other hand, conserve their energy, and do not work as hard to earn these social rewards.
Agreeableness describes a person’s tendency to put others’ needs ahead of their own, and to cooperate rather than compete with others. High scorers experience a great deal of empathy and tend to get pleasure out of serving and taking care of others. They are usually trusting and forgiving. Low scorers tend to experience less empathy and put their own concerns ahead of others.
Neuroticism describes a person’s tendency to experience negative emotions, including fear, sadness, anxiety, guilt, and shame. While everyone experiences these emotions from time to time, some people are more prone to them than others. Low Neuroticism scorers are more likely to have mental toughness.
Note: Although Big5 has got some insignificant internal flaws, this model is THE most preferred one for pre-employment testing.
2. The Myers-Briggs Psychometric Model
Myers-Briggs psychometric tests or mostly widely known as ‘16 Personality Tests‘ is based on 4 basic principles.
1. Extraversion Vs. Introversion –> describes how a person gets energized
2. Sensing Vs. Intuition –> describes how a person takes in information
3. Thinking Vs. Feeling –> describes the means a person uses to make decisions
4. Judging Vs. Perceiving –> describes the speed with which a person makes decisions
1. Not very reliable as test takers get different result if they take the test more than once.
2. Test takers are labelled and boxed into 16 different personality types.
3. No relevant backed-up research is conduct to prove the claim and validity.
3. The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory
The Minnesota Multiphasic Psychometric tests are pre-dominantly used to assess high risk roles: Aviation Industry and Public Safety. Employers use this psychometric tests to assess mental health of the candidates that would directly have an impact on the work place.
The MMPI test has 10 sections also called Scales:
Scale 1 – Hypochondriasis (Hs)
Within this section, there are 32 questions that focus on how a candidate might perceive various complaints that relate to their health.
Scale 2 – Depression (D)
There are 57 questions in this section, which aim to evaluate whether the candidate is showing signs of clinical depression. This is indicated by signs that include hopelessness, low morale or a general level of dissatisfaction with life.
Scale 3 – Hysteria (Hy)
Through a series of 60 questions, this section is designed to identify people who are overly emotional or display hysteria in stressful situations.
Scale 4 – Psychopathic Deviate (Pd)
Over a total of 50 questions that make up this section, candidates are questioned about issues that relate to social maladjustment, rebelliousness and antisocial behaviour. Candidates will be asked about issues they may have with family or authority figures.
Scale 5 – Masculinity/Femininity (Mf)
Through 56 questions, the Masculinity/Femininity scale explores how a candidate might conform to a masculine or feminine stereotype. It looks at activity-passivity, hobbies and career choices, and personal sensitivity.
Scale 6 – Paranoia (Pa)
This scale measures a candidate’s ability or inability to trust others. Through 40 questions, candidates will be questioned on issues such as levels of suspiciousness, self-righteousness and sensitivity. The method of questioning in this section will reveal any tendencies for paranoia or psychotic behaviour.
Scale 7 – Psychasthenia (Pt)
The term ‘Psychasthenia’ has now been replaced by ‘Obsessive Compulsive Disorder’ (OCD). The test contains 48 questions which aim to evaluate the presence of certain obsessive tendencies as well as anxiety, fear, doubts and guilt.
Scale 8 – Schizophrenia (Sc)
The longest section in the test, candidates will need to progress through a total of 78 questions. During this section, candidates will be assessed for unusual cognitive, emotional and social tendencies that might suggest schizophrenia.
Scale 9 – Hypomania (Ma)
This scale has 46 questions and measures a candidate for elevated energy levels and unstable moods. Candidates will be asked about things that would indicate excitability, such as rapid thoughts, accelerated speech or restless body movements. It also covers elements such as irritability, narcissism or egocentricity.
Scale 10 – Social Introversion (Si)
The tenth and final category in the MMPI-2 test features 69 questions. The Social Introversion scale measures whether a candidate is comfortable around other people and in social situations. For example, introverts might be uncomfortable in large groups or over-stimulating social situations.
4. The Birkman Model
The Birkman model of psychometric tests are designed to identify your underlying motivations and occupational needs of a potential candidate.
The Birkman test measures:
1. Interests – what you enjoy and what motivates you in your personal and professional life.
2. Behaviors – how effective and productive your behavioral style is when performing tasks and in relationships.
3. Stress Management – how ineffective and unproductive your behavioral style is when your needs are not met.
4. Organizational Orientation – how you manage and organize your personal and professional life.
Red = Doer
Doers are action-focused. They enjoy hands-on work, project management and solving practical problems. However, doers can sometimes be aggressive or hard to reason with if their needs are not met.
Green = Communicator
Communicators enjoy working with people. They excel at selling, pitching, counseling, teaching and other vocations which require working with people. Communicators often have a natural confidence and make friends easily. They often need praise to excel and can appear argumentative if their needs are not met.
Yellow = Analyzer
Analyzers love rules and processes and have great attention to detail. They enjoy order, record-keeping and developing systems. They also tend to be cautious and value fairness. Analyzers tend to prefer indirect communication and may become stressed by change.
Blue = Thinker
Thinkers love ideas and concepts. They can think abstractly. They are innovative problem solvers and tend to work best alongside other creative people. However, they may find it difficult to cope with demanding problems and require extra support.
But, every psychometric model has some internal flaws they are not suitably tailor-made for work related situations. Here is where Xobin pops-up and brings out the customized psychometric model! You pick and choose the personality traits you want to assess. Or, define your organization culture, role you’re hiring for, we shall customize the tests based on your needs.
How Reliable are Xobin’s Psychometric Tests
Psychometric Tests are not 100% reliable. In fact, all psychometric tests providers provide a full disclaimer not to make decisions solely based on psychometric tests.
1. Construct validity: Are the questions aligned to the trait/ competence that needs to be assessed.
Example: A psychometric test determined to assess whether a candidate is suitable for a ‘truck-driver’ position should not be assessed on ‘leadership traits’ or ‘innovation traits’.
2. Criterion validity: Does the test associate with, and/or predict, an appropriate outcome?
Example: A psychometric test is designed to assess the personality of Sales representative, the test should give a binary solution. As in how Xobin is providing ‘Recommended’ or ‘Not recommended’ report.
3. Content Validity: Does the psychometric questionnaire cover all the traits required for the job.
4. Reliability: How reliable are the test results? Does the test work in the same way for everyone who takes it? Can we meaningfully compare scores between two people?
5. Internal consistency: Does the psychometric tests have internal constructs to detect candidates faking their personalities?
Here is how questions are designed to check internal consistency of candidates.
6. Test-retest reliability: If the same person takes the test twice, do they get the same results?
Applications and Business Benefits of Psychometric Tests
1. Pre-employment Assessment
Assess innate traits of candidates, find culture fitment and role fitment of candidates. Xobin’s pre-employment psychometric tests are made of combination of (a) self-reporting Normative test and (b) Situational judgement tests as mentioned at the start of the article.
2. Boost team productivity
Increase productivity by building teams with complimentary strengths. Know what type of leadership style your team requires. Identify what motivates each individual member in your team. Design work environments based on your team’s interests.
3. Reduce turnover
Assess dark-traits of your candidates and avoid bad hires. Place the right candidate in the right team, something that aligns with that of innate behavioral trait of your candidate.
4. Improve employee-manager collaboration
Know how to delicately manage employee-manager relationship, understand what provokes potential workplace conflicts. Get to know your compatibility levels and collaboration.
5. Improve succession planning
Identify HiPo candidates with leadership traits, determine job level fit and provide training based on data. Take data backed succession planning decisions.
Handpick personality traits from Xobin’s Personality Inventory. We’ll get you an instantly brewed psychometric tests based on your needs!
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