Psychometric Testing

(see technique 1.11 for more details)

Introduction

. Psychometric testing is about understanding personality. A definition of personality is

"...characteristics, emotional responses, thoughts and types of behaviour that are constant over time and circumstances in a particular individual......personality is the driving force behind the experiences we undergo......Some brain and psychological research strongly points to the fact that many of the key elements of a personality are present from birth, identifiable in the way a brain responds to the world. And they are certainly firmly, and largely irrevocably, established by the time we are of university age..."

Robert Winston, 2003

Even though people are still concerned about departing from the industry standard of resumes, references, covering letters, academic qualifications, previous experience, etc, occupational personality and aptitude tests have become increasingly a part of recruitment, development (career and personal), promotion assessment, etc.

Some tests are aimed at measuring candidates' cognitive ability, cultural fit and emotional intelligence assessing logical reasoning, measuring personality traits, etc..

These tests are about measuring skills and qualities that are not necessarily reflected in academic qualifications like relationship building, emotional agility, empathy, creativity, competitiveness, decisiveness, critical thinking, problem solving, interpersonal effectiveness, grit (resilience), ownership (working in service of others and taking initiative), curiosity, polish (communication skills), teamwork, rigour (analytical skills), impact (effectiveness, efficiency and success), etc.

Some tests used:

- AccuMatch (personality assessment)

- Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ32r)

- Cognify (the value inventory assessment)

- Revelian (emotional intelligence test)

- Tetris (correcting mathematical equations, identifying mis-spelt words and punctuation errors), etc.

Some tests measure 30+ different personality traits.

"...Looking at how to find people who are going to be great commercial lawyers and found academic results was not the best predictor of that..."

Andrea Bell (HSF Australia) as quoted by Misa Han 2018

. Psychometric testing is becoming more common in Australia, ie it is estimated that perhaps 60% of organizations are using it in Australia. On the other hand, there is a need to ensure that the results of psychometric testing are not used incorrectly

The basic premise for psychometric testing is that it is objective and illuminates

"...people's ability to do a job is determined by inherent qualities and abilities rather than qualifications and achievements. It includes cognitive ability tests to measure numeral, verbal and reasoning ability and personality tests to measure character traits and behavioural styles..."

Rachel Trumen, 2003

. Psychometric testing can control or lower employee turnover by helping organisations to select people who are more likely to perform, fit happily in the organisation and with their colleagues. For example, someone who values order and discipline is not likely to perform well in a creative and relaxed work culture.

. Psychometrics means measurement of mind and is based on the work of Carl Jung (Swiss psychologist). These tests were devised to measure psychological characteristics, including personality traits and intellectual abilities.

. It is important to realize that psychometric test cannot be used in isolation and should not be taken as a definitive measurement. It is just another technique. For example, with recruitment/promotion the psychometric test should be used in conjunction with other techniques such as interviews, reference check, 360 degree feedback and intuition, ie does this person feel right?

. Furthermore, organisations need to be very careful of an "off‐the‐shelf" and "one‐size‐fits‐all" approach when choosing a test, and remember that the psychometric tests are different from psychological assessments. There needs to be the appropriate debriefing session with a psychologist, or suitably trained person, so that the process is handled correctly and transparently.

. You need to be aware that some people can become nervous during the tests and this can affect the results. Remember: these tests do not involve passing or failing. Furthermore, if the candidate has a general lack of self‐awareness, he/she will have problems answering the questions

. Psychometric testing can be used to select individuals with the right aptitude and to help them develop within an organisation's culture. Generally, personality traits are fairly stable as a significant predictor of future performance, eg extroversion can be a good predictor of sales performance.

. The growth in popularity of psychometric testing in Australia has been linked with

intensifying labour shortage

rise in computer‐assisted testing facilities that have reduced the cost of the tests

strict industrial relations legislation surrounding dismissal have increased the cost of selecting the wrong person. There is a need to select the right person ‐ the first time

. Some other positive attributes of psychometric testing are

reliability, ie they examine the same characteristic in each candidate in exactly the same manner. Furthermore, compared with interviews and reference checks, they are harder for candidates and referees to be coached to perform well, ie more difficult to fake

fairness, ie these tests are less subject to bias. Unlike interviews and reference checks, every candidate has the same chance to perform well

validity, ie these tests are regarded as the best predictors of intelligence and future job performance

. To maximise the benefits from psychometric tests, organisations need to follow a few basic guidelines

clearly link characteristics, such as specific personality traits, ability or aptitude, to the job via a careful analysis of knowledge, skills, abilities and temperaments required to perform the job

avoid routine testing of candidates. Remember: unless a clear link between the job and the characteristic being tested is established, these tests can become an expensive way to ineffectively differentiate between applicants

never use these tests alone to select or reject a candidate. Use a range of methods, thus building a better, more comprehensive picture of each candidate

Some of the more popular tests include

Myers‐Briggs type indicator ‐ see below (it is the most recognized and wide applied test, designed to identify 16 different personality types based on how an individual perceives information and makes decisions. It asks a series of multiple‐choice questions and places the answers in 4 scales of preference, according to extroversion/introversion, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling and judgment/deception)

It is
"...a self-report questionnaire based on Jungian theory and first published in 1944 by American teacher Catherine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myer. In 2015 the US website Vox denounced the method as 'completely meaningless' and argued that personality tests in general were of no use to companies, governments and humans making hiring, firing decisions..."
Sarah Manavis 2018

From the mid-90s scepticism has plagued these type of personality tests, ie criticised globally as devoid of basis or reasoning.

16 PF ‐ The 16 Personality Factor questionnaire (designed to measure levels of 16 factors: warmth, reasoning ability, emotional stability, dominance, liveliness, rule consciousness, boldness, sensitivity, distrust, abstractedness, privateness, worrying, openness to change, self‐reliance, protectionism and tension)

OPQ ‐ Occupational Personality Questionnaire (aims to indicate behavior within work situations, in 3 specific personality dimensions: relationship with people, thinking style and feelings and emotions)

The California Psychological Inventory (claims to measure 14 different behaviours as well as levels of achievement, independence, intellect and flexibility. It indicates a feminine or masculine approach to work behaviours and tasks)

The Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) measures someone's preference for right brain (intuitive) or left brain (realistic) thinking; also it indicates cognitive or visceral thinking. It goes beyond individual profiling that is based on how our brains are organised.

- EI-Quiz (mind tools, 2019). Respond to the15 statements by ranking yourselves 'not at all, rarely, sometimes, often and very often'

"...1. I can recognise my emotions as I experience them

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    2. I lose my temper when I feel frustrated

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    3. People have told me that I am a good listener

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    4. I know how to calm myself down when I feel anxious or upset

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    5. I enjoyed organising groups

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    6. I find it hard to focus on something over the long term

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    7. I find it difficult to move on when I feel frustrated or unhappy

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    8. I know my strengths and weaknesses

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    9. I avoid conflict and negotiations

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    10. I feel that I don't enjoy my work

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    11. I ask people for feedback on what I do well, and how I can improve

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    12. I set long-term goals and review my progress regularly

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    13. I find it difficult to read other people's emotions

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    14. I struggle to build rapport with others

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    15. I use active listening skills when people speak to me..."

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

Heather Craig, 2021

- Emotional Intelligence Scale. Respond to the below 32 statements below by ranking yourself 'not at all, rarely, sometimes, often and very often'

"...1. I know when to speak about my personal problems to others.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    2. When I am faced with obstacles, I remember times of similar obstacles and how I overcame them.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    3. I expect that I will do well on most things I try.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    4. Other people find it easy to confide in me.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    5. I find it hard to understand the non-verbal messages of other people.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    6. Some of the major events of my life have led me to re-evaluate what is important and not important.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    7. When my moods changes, I seek new possibilities

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    8. Emotions are one of the things that make my life worth living.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    9. I am aware of my emotions as I experience them.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    10. I expect good things to happen.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    11. I like to share my emotions with others.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    12. When I experience a positive emotion, I know how to make it last

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    13. I arrange events others enjoy.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    14. I seek out activities that make me happy.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    15. I am aware of the non-verbal messages I send to others.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    16. I present myself in a way that makes a good impression on others.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    17. When I am in a positive mood, solving problems is easy for me.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    18. By looking at their facial expressions, I recognise the emotions people are experiencing.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    19. I know why my emotions change.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    20. When I am in a positive mood, I am able to come up with new ideas.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    21. I am in control over my emotions.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    22. I easily recognise my emotions as I experience them.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    23. I motivate myself by imagining a good outcome to tasks I take on.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    24. I compliment others when they have done something well.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    25. I am aware of the non-verbal messages other people send.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    26. When other people tell me about an important event in his or her lives, I almost feel as though I have experienced this event myself.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    27. When I feel a change in emotions, I tend to come up with new ideas.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    28. When I am faced with a challenge, I give up because I believe I will fail.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    29. I know what other people are feeling just by looking at them.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    30. I help other people feel better when they are down.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    31. I use good moods to help myself keep trying in the face of obstacles.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    32. I can tell how people are feeling by listening to the tone of their voice.

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

    33. It is difficult for me to understand why people feel the way they do..."

not at all rarely sometimes often very often

Heather Craig, 2021

There are some other examples of self-assessment psychometric tests for EQ like

- The Emotional Quotient Inventory 2.0 (EQ-i-2.0) (questions are designed to assess key aspects of emotional skills related to life and workplace performance, including conflict resolution and planning; provides information about emotional skills you can improve on; encourages you to utilise your strengths to maximise performance in daily tasks; it includes 15 competencies around 5 composite areas, ie self-perception, self-expression, interpersonal, decision-making and stress management; it can be used as a 360 degree assessment, ie includes information provided by others)

- Profile of Emotional Competence (PEC) (provides a separate measure of intra-personal and inter-personal EQ; core emotional competencies include identification, understanding, expression, regulation and use of emotions - in yourself and others; consists of around 50 items)

- The Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire (TEIQue) (consists of 153 items, measuring 15 distinct facets, four factors and global traits)

- Wong's Emotional Intelligence Scale (WEIS) (based on the 4 dimensions of EQ, ie self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship management; includes 20 scenarios to choose from that most closely reflect the reaction you are likely to have in each of them and 20 ability pairs where you are required to select one of two types of abilities that demonstrates your strengths)
(for more detail see https://positivepsychology.com/emotional-intelligence-tests/)

. Some of their descriptions of personality types as described by Robert Winston (2003) can include

1. openness to experience (imaginative vs down‐to‐earth; variety versus routine; independent vs conforming)

2. conscientiousness (organised vs disorganised; careful vs careless; self‐disciplined vs weak‐willed)

3. extroversion (social vs retiring; fun loving vs sober; affectionate vs reserved)

4. agreeableness (soft‐hearted vs ruthless; trusting vs suspicious; helpful vs uncooperative)

5. neuroticism (worried vs calm; insecure vs secure; self‐pitying vs self‐satisfied)

6. Some of the limitations of psychometric testing revolve around

rely on people assessing themselves (people are notoriously bad judges of their own character)

people typically think they are better than they really are and people's perceptions of themselves can be changed by the feedback they receive. Is it claimed (Fiona Smith, 2009s) that our brains are designed to make us feel optimistic about ourselves

people are not good at assessing others

people can manipulate the answers to questions to suit their agenda at the time

A better alternative is to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) of the brain as a more accurate indication of people's personality strengths and weaknesses. The FMRI measures blood flow to areas in the brain while responding to questions and instructions. Brain mapping can identify how the brain reacts to different stimuli and identify such characteristics as a person's ability to empathise. It will identify how people actually respond as opposed to how they think, or wish, they might respond.

 

 

 

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