Brainfood: Crash Course In. Psychometric Testing

Management Today, July 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

Brainfood: Crash Course In. Psychometric Testing


You're proud to tell others that yours is a people organisation.

The trouble is, your people are letting you down, quitting early or under-performing. So how can you find the ones who've got the right stuff? Could psychometric testing help?

How does it work? Psychometric means 'mental measurement'; typical tests include measurement of cognitive abilities, personality traits, interests and motivations. 'It's a predictive tool that tells you that someone who performs well in the test will do well in a particular role,' says Kevin Kerrigan of psychometrics specialist SHL Group.

Identify your target. Psychometrics helps in selecting or screening people, but tests can also be used in development, team-building and even redundancy programmes. Before you can test, you need to know what you're looking for. 'First, identify the people-related issues that are holding back your implementation of strategy,' says Kerrigan. 'Then use structured assessments to profile your good people and establish the competencies you are looking for.'

Pick a test. In most situations, a test developed for universal use will meet your needs; if you're dealing with a large number of people, looking for highly specific attributes, or people to fill very senior roles, you might have a test tailor-made. Says Kamal Birdi of Sheffield University's Institute of Work Psychology: 'General mental ability, including numerical and verbal reasoning, is the biggest indicator of work performance.

Cognitive ability tests score twice as highly as personality tests in this regard. …

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