How Best To Assess Candidates At The Selection Stage
You’re responsible for the recruitment of the CEO of a multinational, multi billion dollar corporation. Headhunters have provided an excellent shortlist and you need to advise the main board on how to select the best candidate from the shortlist. You advise in-depth psychometric profiles on each candidate, backed up by detailed assessment of their numerical, verbal and abstract reasoning skills coupled to a senior management situational judgement assessment and finally the production of a comprehensive leadership report written by a fully British Psychological Society (BPS) qualified consultant. The cost of the whole process runs into tens of thousands of pounds but as the downside risk of getting it wrong runs, quite literally, into billions of pounds the cost is simply not an issue.
Now you’re responsible for recruitment of a first or second line manager, or even a shop floor supervisor. The downside risk of getting it wrong is significant but is not going to threaten the stability of the whole company. You’re aware that the process outlined above is best practice but equally you are aware that that sort of cost would be totally disproportionate to the seniority of the current position. So how best to assess proportionally.
The Power Of Psychometrics
The answer almost certainly lies in the use of online psychometrics. Basically psychometric tests fall into two categories: tests of maximum performance and tests of normative performance. Tests of maximum performance would typically include numerical, verbal or abstract reasoning. There are right or wrong answers and the score is definite and verifiable. Typically results in the these sorts of test are expressed in percentiles showing how the candidate performed against a defined population group with the higher the percentile the better the result. A more sophisticated form of a test of maximum performance is one of the modern situational judgement tests were the answers, whilst not mathematically or logically verifiable, are those agreed by a team accepted expert in the fields.
What Tests Are There To Choose From?
Tests of normative performance, and most personality profiles fall into this area, simply do not have right or wrong answers. The outcome is nearly always presented as a percentile figure against a stated norm group and no particular score is “better” than any other score. For any scale the ideal score for a particular position will vary depending on the nature of that particular position. There are quite literally hundreds of different personality tests available. Before using any of these tests the user really should check that it is BPS rated.
Perhaps the best-known of the top-end personality profiles are the SHL series and the Hogan series. Both have their comparative advantages and disadvantages, but both are hugely well documented and respected. Psychiatric profiles tend to focus on the difference between candidates. The other really well known psychometric assessment test is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The output of this places candidates into one of 16 potential “types” and is really all about indicating similarities. Myers Briggs is actually an ipsitive test (there is no direct read across from one person’s score to another person’s score). In general ipsitive tests are better use in teambuilding situations with the MBTI justifiably being the market leader. They are not however generally indicated as appropriate in a selection process.
The vital thing about these psychometrics is that they should be proportionate to the role that is to be filled. Virtually all psychometric tests are now available online and they are truly affordable. For a junior or entry position the cost can be just a few tens of pounds. As the position becomes more senior, and as the risk of getting it wrong therefore grows, more comprehensive testing is clearly indicated. Even so a really comprehensive package of online personality and ability tests can be put together at a cost that is in the low hundreds of pounds per candidate. With the cost of a failed hire normally being quoted as being three times the annual salary of the position, that really has to be money well spent.
One Final Piece of Advice…
Always ensure that the person advising you on which tests to use for the position is fully British Psychological Society qualified.
Click to find out more about psychometric testing.
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