Blog Series - Ultimate Guide to Assessments

Blog 1: Assessment Fundamentals

Samiksha Bhardwaj-7 November, 2019 -Talent Assessment

Organizations today are fighting a fierce battle for attracting the best talent. Recent studies suggest that some of the in-demand skills positions take up to 5 months to find the right candidate. Another study highlighted that 56% of the respondents say they employers cannot find the people they need with the right blend of technical skills and human strengths. Senior executives strongly believe that the success of the organization depends on the availability of the talent within the organization. There are many studies that suggest the direct correlation between talent assessments and employee productivity, employer branding, reduced turnover, and employee experience.

While assessments have been there for many years, still there are a lot of unanswered questions in the minds of HR, Talent Acquisition Leaders, and Candidates. Although the assessments can include a wide choice of practices including online applications, resume reviews, psychometric tests, interviews, panel interviews, reference checks, background verifications, etc., the focus here is on practices which are more scientific in approach, devoid of human bias, are valid and reliable with the results and are repeatable in nature.

Typically, the spectrum of assessments varies from observing someone's work behaviors to acquired knowledge, skills, and behaviors and lastly to innate personality types and attributes. As innate characteristics are deep-rooted for an individual, they are not restricted for a specific job and are more flexible for multiple job types. Innate characteristics or more commonly called Psychometric assessments constitute cognitive abilities and personality traits. These two combined together have proven to demonstrate their effectiveness in predicting job performance most accurately.

This blog series is an attempt to address the history of assessments, types of assessments, and the usage of assessments by HR, Talent Acquisition, L & D and OD leaders to hire, train and retain employees and why it makes sense for candidates.

Psychometric Assessments

As per IPC, "Psychometric tests are a standard and scientific method used to measure individuals' mental capabilities and behavioral style. Psychometric tests are designed to measure candidates' suitability for a role based on the required personality characteristics and aptitude (or cognitive abilities). They identify the extent to which candidates' personality and cognitive abilities match those required to perform the role. Employers use the information collected from the psychometric test to identify the hidden aspects of candidates that are difficult to extract via a face-to-face interview or other assessment techniques."

History of Psychometric Assessments

Psychometric assessments can be found through human history across cultures, geographies, and religions. The modern type of psychometric test we know today has roots in France in the 19th century and was created by three renowned psychologists, Alfred Binet, Victor Henri, and Theodore Simon

Taking a cue from this, armies across west also followed suit and were able to select soldiers with what was considered the most suitable personality with a test which was known as the Woodworth Personality Data Sheet (1917). Then in the 1950s and 60s, the "Big Five" personality test was developed and it remains one of the most popular personality traits models. Recent approaches in psychometrics assessments include incorporating gaming elements to the core principles of psychometrics assessments to improve relevance and engagement.

Types of Psychometric Assessments

Psychometric assessments can be broadly organized into two categories and can be used independently or in combination with each other for the best results.

  1. 1. Cognitive Abilities
  2. As per SHRM, Cognitive ability assessments typically consist of multiple-choice items that measure various mental abilities, such as verbal and numerical ability, reasoning, and reading comprehension. These assessments have proven to be extremely useful predictors of job performance and are used frequently in hiring for many types of jobs.
  1. 2. Personality
  2. Personality assessments measure stable, job-relevant characteristics that have been shown to be effective predictors of job performance. These assessments are typically used in combination with measures of cognitive ability. In work situations, The Five Personality Model which describes personality as a combination of 5 broad factors: conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, openness to experience and emotional stability is used most frequently in organizations.

Use Cases for Psychometric Assessments

  1. 1. Hiring
  2. One cannot underestimate the cost associated with a wrong hire. HR and TA leaders have used psychometric assessments to predict job performance more accurately. They help predict performance through insights on fitness, strengths, weaknesses, and working style of the candidate.
  1. 2. Organizational Development
  2. The development of any organization is dependent on the identification of future leaders or high potentials and create succession planning centered around future leadership development. Psychometric assessments help assess leadership potential by objectively evaluating their competencies and behavior for the next leap.
  1. 3. Learning and Development
  2. Psychometric assessments help organizations understand their learning needs and redirect their efforts to continuously improve individual performances. These assessments pre and post the training help evaluate the training effectiveness.

Next Trends in Psychometric Assessments

Organizations across industries are taking a game-based approach to assessment for informed decision making. Game-based assessments are psychometric assessments intentionally built as games.

Game-based assessments offer certain advantages over traditional methods of assessments-

  1. Reveals true behaviors and abilities
  2. Quick and comprehensive evaluation
  3. Appears relevant to candidates
  4. Engaging and immersive experience for candidates
  5. No gaming experience required
  6. Fair and Objective
  7. Improves employer branding

While the advantages of using game-based assessments are there, care should be taken to check the validity & reliability of the assessment. The focus should not only be to have a more engaging and enriching experience but also on offering higher predictability and unique opportunities to identify motivators, values, cognitive skills, and behavioral competencies

We believe that this would serve as a base document to understand the psychometric assessments and their applicability. In the next series of blogs, we would cover the applicability of psychometric assessments for HR, Talent Acquisition, OD and L&D leaders as well as candidates and employees.