For many human resources professionals, psychometric testing has become a regular part of the recruitment process.
Typically consisting of numerical, verbal and diagrammatic reasoning and situational judgement tests, they are used as an initial screening method, quite often in the assessment of candidates for lower level jobs and particularly those new to an organisation.
Psychometric testing gives an interesting insight into candidates, how they will suit a role, their ability to cope with the basic needs of a job, etc. Although the tests wouldn’t make a yes/no appointment decision for you, they are very useful for factoring into that process. Through numerical reasoning, a candidate’s ability to quickly and accurately deal with numbers is assessed. Logical reasoning is highlighted by diagrammatic questions, whilst constructive thinking comes under the microscope with verbal reasoning. The situational judgement tests establish suitability for a particular role and can be valuable to determine someone’s preferences and hence how they fit into a team.
But why don’t people use these more commonly as support to traditional interviews where people are applying, either internally or externally, for management roles. All too often, any such interview process featuring internal candidates is more a rubber-stamping process, with a high flyer landing the job.
The talents associated with being a star performer in a particular role are often very different from those required to manage or lead the individuals who carry them out. Therefore, it is not necessarily the case that such a person would be a success in stepping up to this type of role. Yes, a star performer may be able to lead by example, through their own demonstrable skills, but staff management requires a different set of abilities altogether.
Fitting the right person into leadership and management roles is arguably far more important than recruiting perfect candidates to work beneath them.
Good managers can help shape and develop their teams, to get the best from them, refining their skills through identifying and implementing training where necessary. Ultimately, they can bring about success. Bad managers can create failure, on both a team and individual level, reduce staff productivity and create an atmosphere or distrust. They can increase employee turnover, as those beneath them are demoralised and quit, or are sacked because of underperformance, where the right development opportunities may have helped improve the individual and the team.
All this is not to say that a star performer, or an individual who deserves recognition and reward for loyalty, may not be the right person to receive a promotion to management level. This may very well be the case, and such a move could be the best next step for all involved. It is a question of making sure that all of the tools at hand are used to ensure that the right decision is made.
Part of psychometric testing is about establishing how an individual would react to a certain situation and suitability to a role, such as management. Rather than being solely for use when interviewing for junior roles, its utilisation when selecting a candidate for a management role is one which play a major part in finding the right person to drive a business forward.
By Sharon Klein, Director, Azure Consulting