Psychometric Assessments: A Key To Solving Your People Puzzles Quickly And Effectively
3rd March 2010
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Confused by Psychometric Assessments. This simple overview will help you make sense of them.

At some time most of us have been in a team where two of our colleagues always seem to clash. They are both nice guy and they get on at the lunch table. However, when the clash comes the team cannot get on with the job until someone gives way.

These sort of issues within teams aren’t really due to the differences that exist between people but the rigidity with which they hold on to those differences: “I need to understand the detail and until you’re able to give it me I’m not prepared to make a decision about this”

Increasing self awareness of the team members and their awareness of how each other “works” can dramatically improve compatibility between your team members. It is essential to solving your people puzzles.

Using questionnaires to increase self awareness and create an understanding of personality differences can help team members understand what is happening. Armed with this knowledge, and a little guidance, they can adjust how they work together. Understanding that Mark is a person who needs detail to make a decision means that George can now understand that he is not just being “plain awkward”. Understanding this need, both of them can work with the situation to get the best out of each other.

These questionnaires provide insight and information so that you can tackle your people puzzles in the same way you would tackle technical or economic problems. Labeled “psychometrics”, they are designed to measure various aspects of a person’s skills, abilities and personality.

Do You Run a Mile From Psychometric Assessments?

So many people run a mile when psychometric tests are mentioned. Maybe they think it’s all hocus pocus or perhaps they are concerned it will go in their personal file and affect their future or perhaps they simply are not sure how the results will be used. There are some simple principles to help with these concerns.

Well Scrutinized

Generally these tests are not hocus pocus. The good instruments have been used for a long time, have a large body of data behind them and have been rigorously scrutinized for years. The set for which the British Psychological Society provides training is good guide as to their credibility.


With any such test, confidentiality is essential. If they are to be kept in personal records then the individual concerned should be made aware and Data Protection Regulations must be complied with.

If the outcomes are shared in a team setting then the team must agree to maintain confidentiality.

Guidance Only

Psychometrics tests should only be used to inform and guide decisions. Decisions that affect people’s lives should never be made on the strength of psychometrics alone.

They can be very powerful and provide excellent input to help individuals work out their personal development plans and to personalize their learning.

Appropriate Use

Such tests are best only used with a trained and qualified practitioner. This goes a long way to ensuring that they are not abused and it enables the individual to receive appropriate tailored feedback and guidance. Look for a British Psychological Society Level B qualification (or your national equivalent).

This last point is why it’s best to avoid the “Do It Yourself” on-line tests to be found on the internet. Many of these tests do not have a large body of data behind them nor have they been rigorously scrutinized. That means that you need someone to help sift out the ones that are hocus pocus and some guidance on how best to use them. You will also need help to understand exactly what the results mean for you, without that you could end up following an inappropriate course of action.

Types of Psychometric Assessment Questionnaire

Questionnaires and tests come in various shapes and sizes and it’s important that you choose the right tool for the job – Use a plane not an axe to take off that bit of wood from the door that keeps sticking!

Ability and Aptitude Tests:

  • Numerical Reasoning TestsWhen recruiting, if you want help deciding how good someone will be at manipulating and understanding business data, choose a numerical reasoning test.
  • Verbal Reasoning TestsIf you want to know if they will be able to understand the complex business reports your company produces you want to use a verbal reasoning test.

Research from 174 studies and 36,000 people reviewed in the American Psychologist journal concluded that higher ability test scores are commonly associated with higher levels of job performance. The key is selecting a test that is appropriate to the job level and context: If you are recruiting for an accounting manager you don’t want a test designed for a sales assistant.

Personality Questionnaires:

Often using models developed by leading psychologists such as Karl Jung or Raymond Cattell. these questionnaires assess the personality that drives the way individuals behave:

  • Measures for personal development: Are deigned to help you understand and increase your personal effectiveness and that of your team by increasing your self awareness. If you understand what drives your behaviour you are more able to do something about it.They are not designed for, and should not be used for assessment and recruitment.
  • Measures for assessment: Aimed at assessing how effective an individual is in comparison to others. They can be used for development purposes but are particularly useful for recruitment and understanding the future potential of individuals.

Some questionnaires help you understand individual behaviour and others how a team works.

Key Learning Point:

There is mo need to be scared of psychometrics, they can give you the confidence to tackle some of your people puzzles because they can give you a deeper understanding of your team members.

They can also give your team members the confidence to loosen their grip on their individual differences that can become a stumbling block to team effectiveness.

They can help you make good recruitment choices and perhaps enable you to avoid issues in the future.

What You Can Do Today?

You may need advice in selecting and using the most appropriate tools for you and your team, many need specialist training and accreditation to use. Speak to someone who has used some of these tools in recruitment or personal development and get their perspective.

For access to resources that can help you to do more with less by identifying new ways of doing things and helping your team to maximise its achievement take a llok at The Creative Leader Bulletin

Ponder and Comment

What is your view and experience of psychometric testing?

The Author: Andy Gilbert, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, is a specialist in Talent Management and Organizational Development. For a number of years he has worked with leaders from various functional backgrounds developing them as coach, trainer, facilitator and consultant.


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