Psychometric Profiling: What managers need to know.

What is it Psychometric Profiling?

Psychometric profiling is used in recruitment as well as employee development.  I am focusing on recruitment in this blog as it is part of a larger series on recruitment basics.

Psychometric profiling, when used in recruitment aims at understanding the likely on-the-job performance of a candidate.  Most profiles use two key components i.e. personality and ability.  Such profiles can also assist in the recruitment process by helping target interview/reference checking questions as well as assisting with the best way to induct and manage the successful recruit.

There is a smidge of rocket science in it

Personality (and preferences) are complex as each component of a person interacts, then brings your organisational culture into the equation and one’s head starts to hurt.

Let’s say – I might have a client excited to see a profile showing a very high level of confidence along with good cognitive abilities, both of which are highly valued in their organisation.  My role is to draw their attention to the candidate being high on a need for autonomy and low on teamwork. Then to point to their culture of low hierarchy and close teamwork and question the fit, of these factors combined.

What tool should I use?

Tool Shed

Psychometric profiling has got itself a bad rep in some business circles, undeservedly in my opinion.  This could be due to the varying quality of the available profiles.  Good ones do exist, so do shockers.  Unfortunately it is not always easy to find your way through which is which.

I can say – please don’t use the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, even the Myers Briggs peeps state not to use their tool in recruitment.  Likewise for DiSC profiling which looks at your work style as Dominant, Influencer, Steady or Conscientious.

We have had success with the New Zealand based selector insight profiling tool, finding it to be almost uncannily accurate, and to perform well over time.  What I mean there is the employees’ performance in the role is well linked to the original findings.  Likewise candidates themselves often acknowledge (sometimes begrudgingly) the accuracy of the profile.

Selector insight provides:

  • Personal Style – including self-confidence, openness to new ideas, extroversion, competitiveness, and teamwork.
  • Ideal Working Environment – describes in practical terms the candidate’s preference for autonomy, interaction, complexity, and numerous other job characteristics.
  • Ideal Job – orders candidate’s job preferences from the most to the least desirable. This helps to clarify whether the role will suit their interests and requirements.
  • Resilience – measures a candidate’s typical reactions to pressure and stress and compares that with the average reaction across several factors, including: anxiety, withdrawal, distraction, and physical reactions to stress.
  • Ability Measure (Optional) – a candidate’s verbal, numerical, logical, and overall reasoning abilities.

A good way to assess a tool, if you are not sure, is to run you and your colleagues through it and discuss its accuracy.  Another way is to assess your tool over time; is it improving your recruitment outcomes?  Did those the profile indicate would perform well, in-actual-fact perform well?  Of course this relies on you having some sort of performance measurement system and processes in place (yes we will be talking about those in the future, give us time, we are pretty busy).

FYI: here are some good tips from Harvard Business Review on how to use profiles in recruiting.

Never put all your eggs in one basket.

eggsin1basketI have said it before, and I will say it again…. there are lots of tools in the recruiting toolbox, the more tools you use the less risk of making a poor choice.

Profiling is just one tool, albeit a powerful one (think of it as your new favourite power tool you just added to your toolbox).  However your shiny new tool should always, always be used alongside interviewing, referencing checking, credential checking etc.  See our recruitment basics series for more.

Is it always appropriate to assess ability?

The short answer is: No!

You do need to consider the relevance of abilities such as numerical, logical, and verbal (that are likely included in ability measures) to the role.  If it is not relevant – don’t use it.  However if you are hiring the new company accountant you can be pretty confident all these abilities will be key to success in the role.

I would also like to say – I have seen candidates with high educational qualifications not score well on the ability rankings.  This can be indicative of many things that may or may not be a problem.  It may mean they are not as capable of doing the job as their qualifications suggest, or that the qualifications are fudged or simply they do not perform well under that sort of pressure.

Candidates that score poorly on ability rankings (despite high-level qualifications) sometimes give reasons like ‘oh that bit didn’t seem important’.  I’ve also heard ‘I didn’t bother much with the silly questions I don’t care if George and Sally have four oranges more than John or not. I certainly don’t see what it has to do with the job I applied for’.  The job was a technical, numbers-based one. This is valuable information for the employer regarding the candidate’s attitude, priorities etc. Or put another way we helped the client dodge a bullet that day.  This type of response is also often in line with the personality part of the report.  This person was probably very high on need for autonomy and perhaps a little too high (yes that is a thing) on self-confidence.

While I am on warning mode – you need to be aware that (if done remotely) a candidate may get their ‘smart’ friend or family member to answer the questions for them.  Clearly you can avoid this by getting them to do the test in your office.  We have found that simply checking the match between the results and their interview, qualifications, references etc. is usually enough, most people are ‘smart’ enough not to try this.

What will it cost me?

It is challenging to find costs online and recruitment companies might package it in with other services.  Like much in business life you can pay very little or truckloads and there is unlikely a strong linear correlation between cost and effectiveness.

I like to avoid any sales talk in these posts – however the clearest information I have to offer you is our own costs.  We charge $275 (excluding GST) per profile.  This includes: administering the profile; the full written report; a 15 minute brief with me on the needs of the role; and a 30 minute debrief on our findings within the profile to the hiring manager.  By our reckonings, this is very much below market rate – however my passion is SMEs and we can do the process remotely, so keeping costs down is important to us as well as our clients.  

I hope this has helped you.  I have to stop writing at a point as I realise this could be a four-part blog of its own.   Hence if your questions are not answered, drop a comment below, or contact me.

Yours as ever,

Claire The Barefoot (SME) Recruiter

Reference links and all that jazz

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