Psychometric testing: is it worth it?

When it’s done well and the test provider and the employer work in partnership, then psychometric testing can add great value to the business and the recruitment process, but when it’s not completely embraced by the business and the provider does not truly understand the company culture, then it’s a waste of time.

I have been fortunate to see both sides of the argument in practice. I worked for a company where the psychometric test was engrained in the culture of the business, both from within HR and from within the operational team who were completely committed to the process and always made sure that the framework of an interview was based on the guidelines from the results the candidate had achieved in the psychometric test. As a recruiter you had confidence in the process and were comfortable that the candidates put forward were right for the culture of the business based on the responses they had given.

I also worked for an overseas company, which used an applicant tracking system (ATS) that the business had purchased before I had joined. The new HR director quite rightly wanted to raise the standard of hires across the estate and believed that psychometric testing was a key component in this. The problem here arose from the fact that not all areas of the organisation were completely sold on this and other members of the management team would look at the results of the psychometric test almost as an afterthought, which ultimately undermined the value of the exercise.

Choose your weapon

The other issue in this instance was with the test provider. It was a large global provider and I spent a week with one of its team members driving him round our various outlets, to enable him to interview prominent members of our business and to generally try to understand the company culture.

However, despite the visits and various conference calls, I got the feeling that he never really did get under the skin of the business and the resulting test material produced was very American and did not really relate to the British culture. After several rewrites the new test went live, but the psychometric test part of the software kept crashing which meant we had to ask candidates to reapply for roles and as a result this was probably the worst candidate experience I have ever been involved with.

Think about the candidate

Which leads me nicely on to the other major issue impacting on whether a business gets the psychometric test wrong or right. I’m passionate about candidates having a good recruitment experience irrespective of the outcome and this sometimes can be the Achilles’ heel of the test in that it can be so far geared towards the needs of the business that the needs of the candidate are often ignored.

I’m working with a candidate at the moment whose recent test was over an hour long. He struggled to understand where he fitted on some of the profile questions, which led to him second guessing certain questions. This is a dangerous path for any candidate to go down, as ultimately what the potential employer is left with is an inaccurate picture of the skills and qualities that the candidate can bring to the business.

Ultimately it’s also up to test providers and businesses to be on the same page from the outset. If you decide that psychometric testing is right for you then you should always bring it back to the recruitment experience of the candidate, who in the long term will be the key component of any businesses success going forward.



  1. Peter Cosgrove June 18, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    Thanks for the blog Mark.
    Having worked in the agency market in the Uk and Ireland for 13 years I think the psychometirc testing can work very well but in general keep it away from the line manager.
    Use it as a tool that will help probe at the interview and even help steer the line manager in a direction but it is often worth omitting any discussion on the test itself as many have had a bad experience or just do not believe in them, so use but maybe, in a counter-intuitive way, dont publicise!

  2. Mersey August 3, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    As an unemployed Merseysider, I have to say that I HATE these psychometric tests. They are annoyingly long, barmy and utterly useless. They do NOT reflect a true and accurate profile of the job applicant. Period. They should be scrapped. Many jobless people agree with me too on this.

  3. Fruchterpl October 30, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Im grateful for the blog article.Really thank you! Awesome.

Leave a comment (*required fields)