Psychometric Assessments

What you need to know

Assessing employees – whether it is to shortlist candidates for recruitment, or to gain a better understanding of how to grow and develop your current workforce – has become a mainstream HR business practice the world over. But what are the different types of psychometric tests available and how do you know that the one you are using is reliable? This article will shed some light on these questions and more.

What are psychometric assessments?

Psychometric assessments are tests or questionnaires that can be divided into two categories:
Psychometric Assessments

Cognitive assessments

These tests typically measure one’s aptitudes and reasoning abilities through time-restricted multiple-choice questions. They come in many forms, from simple questionnaires to more sophisticated gamified versions.

Cognitive tests are most often in seen in recruitment settings but can also be used when evaluating current employees’ learning agility.

Psychometric Assessments

Personality assessments

hese analyse specific aspects of an individual’s personality, such as strengths and blind spots. They present respondents with questions about their feelings or behaviors when in specific situations in order to quantifiably measure specific behavioral traits.

For example, our Thriving Index strength-based assessment looks at 10 factors, further divided into 27 sub-factors such as growth mindset, grit, optimism, flexibility and autonomy. When we work with clients, we map their competency framework per job level to these subfactors. We then design custom reports that evaluate the attributes they require depending on the job hierarchy. For example, when recruiting for a senior leader, they may need to measure things like strategic thinking whilst for mid-level executives, they will look for good people-managers.

Personality assessments are used both in recruitment scenarios or in situations where we want to assess current employees.

Validity of psychometric assessments

Because behavioral assessments are self-reports, one could question the value and accuracy of their results. However, data measured by these tests has generally been proven to be of high validity in several quantitative reviews of hundreds of research studies.

How do you know that the psychometric test you choose to work with yields reliable results?

At Mercer Talent Enterprise, we look at two important factors: consistency and stability.

  • Consistency: The most widely accepted measure of consistency is called Cronbach’s alpha. A commonly-accepted rule of thumb is that an alpha of 0.6-0.7 indicates acceptable reliability. 7 out of 10 Thriving Index Factors have a Cronbach Alpha higher than 0.6.
  • Stability: An assessment’s stability is the ability of scales to be stable over time, measured by comparing the scale scores of a sample of people completing the measure on two occasions, in the absence of any feedback between completions. When looking at re-test data for Thriving Index, we found that re-test data collected 3-6 months after the first in a global sample (n = 123) of working adults, demonstrated a very strong correlation (0.915) between the two was realized.

Are standalone psychometric assessments enough?

Ideally, psychometric tests should be used in conjunction with other methods such as face-to-face interviews or more elaborate assessment centres like the ones we often conduct with clients. This is one of the reasons why our Thriving Index report not only gives organizations information on an individual’s behavioral fit in the company but also provides probing questions and information to help recruiters or HR personnel interview and debrief candidates more effectively in person.

This blended approach allows companies to collect valuable data that will help them make more informed hiring and development decisions with the aim of having a measurable impact on their future performance.
Psychometric Assessments