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The use of psychometric assessment in recruitment and selection

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Written by John Berry on 14th March 2023. Revised 29th October 2023.

4 min read

Software TeamManagers have a single aim in recruitment and selection – finding and hiring someone who will accept the offer, stay with the firm, do well in the job, and contribute to business outcomes.

Matching person to job

This aim is satisfied during recruitment and selection by exploiting one simple principle – ensuring that the person who is hired has personal characteristics which match those for optimal performance in that job. It’s called maximising the person-environment fit (P/E Fit) - maximising the match between the candidate’s characteristics and those of the job.

So, to allow the hiring manager to optimise the match, both job and candidate characteristics must be measured, and must be able to be compared.

Scientists make use of correlation to compare number series. And we can make use of correlation here. The technique of correlation generates a corelation coefficient – a measure of the match. Ideally, we’d seek a strong positive correlation coefficient, but that’s not always possible with humans, and the best we’d look for as acceptable is a moderate positive match.

But we’ve jumped ahead of ourselves here.

Let’s take a step back. What are those personal characteristics needed by the jobholder for performance?

Personal characteristics

Firstly, the candidate must have the necessary competence - foundation competence and job competence. And they must exhibit the necessary behaviours. Behaviours are things like punctuality – routinely being on time.

Competence and behaviours are assessed during work sample tests and structured interviewing. Let’s leave those for now, since tests for those are designed by the hiring manager.

Secondly, the candidate must have the right personality; reasoning ability; career preferences; in-team behaviour; leadership style; subordinate style; influencing style; emotional intelligence; and work attitude. And some jobs will also want to consider growth needs strength. All of these can be measured using psychometric tests – with our Preselect Assessment tool in the early days of recruitment, and then with our Main Assessment tool later.

Closed Loop Onboarding
Use psychometric tools in matching person to job

So back to matching. For P/E Fit, the environment, or rather the personal characteristics necessary for the environment, needs to be stated. That’s done in our Ideal Profile tool. In this, the hiring manager is asked a series of questions. The answers characterise the ideal jobholder personality.

Once the ideal profile is available, the match between that and each candidate’s profile can be reported.

Back to matching - again

Our job in TimelessTime is to help with the most difficult bit of P/E Fit – the psychometrics.

We do this by harnessing several supporting principles.

The first principle is that it’s possible, following over 70 years of psychology research, to metricate a person’s psyche. Here are the metrics we use:

• Using Psytech’s 15FQ+ inventory to yield a candidate’s Big 5 personality profile, in-team behaviour, leadership style, subordinate style, influencing style, emotional intelligence, and work attitude.
• Using the Adapt general reasoning test to assess a candidate’s ability with numbers, language and concepts – to make a general mental ability assessment.
• Using Holland’s theory of vocational personality and work environment to assess a candidate’s job preferences.
• And for some jobs, hiring managers will also need to consider growth needs strength, using a GNS inventory.

Our tools are based on the most widely used psychometrics principles. We are happy to provide further evidence of tool provenance if needed.

The second principle is that it is possible to exploit modern online services and the personal computer or smartphone to enable candidates to take these tests at home, in their own time. It’s also possible for them to be scored and assessed semi-automatically by computer in near-realtime (though we always have an analyst cast their eye over all results).

And the outcome

The outcome is that hiring managers will understand the personal characteristics of candidates before they administer their own work sample tests and structured interview questions. Together, all these assessments lead to a low-cost, high-validity recruitment and selection process – the best that can be achieved.