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Psychometric Testing - Love it or hate it?

  • Posted 11 Apr 2021
  • Richard Holmes
  • Article

About 50% of the clients I work with incorporate Psychometric Testing as part of their recruitment process. For candidates, it is one of the most divisive topics out there. Some don’t mind it, others pull out of the process because of it.  

I have known some of the best professionals in their field to have failed miserably at testing but are amazing at their job, well-referenced and come highly recommended. I know some candidates that have scored in the highest percentile but once employed have failed miserably at the job they were hired for. 

So, what is it exactly?

Psychometric assessments are a standard testing tool used to assess the intellectual ability and personality characteristics of individuals. 

Psychometric evaluations are designed to assess the suitability of applicants for a position based on the requisite behavioural traits and competence. They define the degree to which the personality and cognitive abilities of applicants, suit those needed to perform a specific role. 

Employers use the information obtained from the psychometric test to identify secret facets of applicants that are difficult to discern from one-on-one interviews. 


For employers, the pros are direct; it makes the hiring process somewhat accurate, narrows the applicants’ population to not only skills but behavioural traits that fit the job, thereby leading to a happy and satisfied workforce with a low attrition rate. 

With Hiring Managers having differing interview styles with some being good and others poor, companies would argue this is an unreliable predictor of success and by adding psychometric testing to the process can bring much-needed objectivity.

If you feel that you didn’t perform your best at the interview it’s good to know that tests, in general, provide reliable results, and will demonstrate that you have what it takes to be successful in a position even if you don’t necessarily shine in the interview stage.

Other advantages include knowing more about their employees and determining the perfect role for them, especially if it is mass recruitment without any specific or assigned roles yet.


The cons here for employers include hiring the wrong person or missing out on better candidates for the role when they depend solely on these tests and use them as sole decision-makers in the recruitment process. 

Another issue Hiring Managers face here is that most applicants will not give sincere opinions or answers in the test, as they know that it is a great determinant in their recruitment. This means they will have to conduct other tests or risk hiring the wrong set of candidates for their vacant roles. 

The psychometric test also does not consider some other behavioural determining factors. For example, the state of mind of a candidate before a psychometric test will unconsciously influence most of his or her answers, thereby leaving decisions open to error from uncertainties. 

When you also look at cost-effectiveness, it is not something that small businesses with few applicants should adopt, since they will still have to conduct other backup tests to increase the accuracy of the assessment results.

What’s in it for the applicants?

The psychometric test may have been designed to assist recruiters in decision making during hiring exercises. It may also seem to have been all cons and more trouble for the applicants, but just like the ATS and other applicant screening tools, some pros fall on the side of the applicants too.

By default, the psychometric test is designed to eliminate unconscious bias when properly used. Imagine two candidates in an interview scenario for the position of a Data Analyst role, the first candidate is well dressed, presents himself properly, answers all the questions correctly, and has an overall best performance. The second candidate comes and gives an average performance, not too captivating, but answers the questions correctly too. If they both had similar details in their resume, then it was safe to assume that the first candidate with outstanding performance will be hired. The outcome, however, may be different if the results from their psychometric test tell a different story. The results could say that the first candidate is more of a public speaker than the Data Analyst they need, while the second candidate performs better in that aspect. This means, as an applicant if you know you have a weakness when it comes to face-to-face interviews, you can invest more effort in performing well in the psychometric assessment, and you might get lucky.

Another good thing about knowing you will have an examination is that you can prepare for it. There are so many reference materials out there that you can use to practice; you can even get tests specific to roles or job titles you can use to prepare. 

If you have to do testing, I would highly recommend doing some practice tests on this website - SHL Testing  You have to register your details but I'd recommend giving the verbal, numerical, personality, inductive and deductive test ones a go.

For successful applicants, the psychometric report provides key insight for Managers letting them plan key training and development support. This helps the applicant grow in their role and ultimately helps the Manager to retain them longer.

Does Psychometric Testing work?  

Statistics show that psychometric testing is good and effective, but that can only be achieved when Hiring Managers/Recruiters use it properly as an assisting tool and not the only determinant for which most do use it. 

The cases where it has proven to be very effective is when they use it for other recruitment processes apart from the sole determinant to hiring. 

For example, combining it with other assessment methods is better, because candidates will tend to give more accurate and sincere responses when they know it does not affect their chances of employment.

Does it present the best candidate?

Everyone has an opinion on this but mine would have to be NO. Why? Because I know too many successful and brilliant candidates who have failed these tests, but have gone on to secure another opportunity and excelled in that role.

I believe this topic will always be divisive. It’s a personal experience and everyone is different…..thank goodness.

Let me know your thoughts.

Richard Holmes is Co-Founder & Director of HPR Consulting, a leading Accounting & Finance recruitment business in Sydney, Australia.

He has been in the Executive Search & Selection Industry since 2003 and has developed a track record of recruiting senior Accounting, Finance and Commercial professionals into leading ASX listed, private and multinational organisations. Passionate about connecting talent, he has an in-depth knowledge of the Sydney market and brings a significant amount of intellectual property to his clients and candidates.

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