The dilemma of finding the right person for the job gave rise to the psychometric test. People Management spoke to HR consultant Saad Ajeel about how psychometric testing can help HR professionals, and the pitfalls to watch out for.

What is the purpose of a psychometric test?

A psychometric test will tell you about a candidate’s personality and their dynamics, including what he or she is most disposed to, or willing to, do. It’s one of many steps in the recruitment process.

Why and how should they be used?

At the beginning of the recruitment process – as early as possible, before or with the interview – because if you don’t do it at the beginning and you continue with the next steps of the recruitment process without knowing what kind of people you have, it can result in a loss of time and money.

It’s not enough to just interview someone: a candidate can create a false impression by looking the part and talking well. You can’t lie on a psychometric test.

I would estimate that 30 per cent of businesses in the UAE are using psychometric tests – and it’s useful for not only all sizes of companies across all sectors, but also for the individuals.

A specialist should analyse the results of a psychometric test, but what does HR need to consider before choosing a test for candidates?

Write down what the job requires – someone who prefers to move about or be sedentary; a quick decision-maker; someone who can multitask; does the job require an interest in details? If you don’t know what kind of person you need, you can’t test for the relevant personality traits.

It’s also a good idea to share the results with the candidate so you can check results are correct and if so, to ask the candidate to give an example.

How reliable are psychometric tests?

If you give the test twice within a short period of time you will get the same result, but if you give the test a second time five or 10 years later, then of course you will get a different result. Psychometric tests give a picture of the personality of the person at that particular moment or life phase.

I would say the tests are 85-95 per cent accurate. Sometimes people try to cheat by guessing what they think the response should be, but a good test will repeat the same question several times in different ways to avoid this problem.

Are the tests relevant across cultures?

If you have to translate the test into another language you must make sure you don’t lose meaning, and you must also be aware of certain expressions – idioms – that only make sense in one language and cannot be translated literally.

You should also consider where a person was educated, as that can make a difference to their understanding of the test.

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