9 Sep 2018

Psychometric tests....

80% of the recruiting that I do is agency side - that is, for marketing, advertising and digital agencies.  The remaining 20% is client-side.  The key difference between the two is HR departments.  HR people do tend to live up to their stereotypes and they also tend to love psychometric tests.  I can think of one agency who I work with who once tried them....and then ditched it as a costly and time wasting exercise.

And I'm afraid, that's my opinion of them too.  I've recently had a run of client-side marketing roles and they have all had some element of psychometric testing.  I'm a strong believer that a quality candidate/potential employee will have a quality CV.  A decent employer will have a robust interview process, ideally a minimum of 2 interviews where the first is an assessment of 'fit' for the business - culture, personality and chemistry.  The second interview should be a response to a brief of some kind or at the very least something to assess the skills of the individual relative to the requirements of the role. 

Most interviewers will know within the first 10 minutes if an interviewee is right for the role. And it's right that the process continues to a full and thorough assessment of an individual's skills - I get a bit twitchy when an offer is made after one meeting only.  However, I'm pretty sure that after this process, it's sufficient to know if you've found the person you want to hire.  After an offer is made, references should be checked and that, in my opinion, is enough.

In theory, I understand the value of a psychometric test.  Yes, it gives an overall view of the skills of the individual and can raise any red flags that you might need to be aware of - for example, how someone responds under pressure, what their management style is or how they use their persuasion skills.  I asked one of my client-side contacts, what value they gave to the tests and their response was that it's only useful in interviews to give you some basis for questions. However, they also said that each test took £200 out of an already small budget and frankly, they would have been asking those questions regardless of the prompts.  This client also highlighted an incident where they were re-hiring an individual who had worked with the business for 18 months previously and they had to go through the same testing procedure - a bit of a waste of money, what was the test going to tell them that they didn't already know and why would they want to re-hire if that person was no good?  The upshot was that it was something to keep HR departments busy....I don't want to piss anyone off here so I'll just leave that one there.

In a recent example, the additional tests required 2 hours of the interviewees time - that's quite a commitment on top of the 3 interviews they'd already had - and made it quite difficult to reject the candidates who didn't get the job....

I know I would say this, I'm a recruiter...however, when I take a brief, I only supply a small number of CVs for people who are qualified to do the job - and interested in it.  We have a solid interview process to ensure that the client could in fact select any of the individuals based on their actual skills - and then it's down to the client to identify who 'suits' them best - we're back to the best 'fit' - something that is unique to each and every business.  Recruitment is expensive, but the advantage of using a good recruiter is that they save you time, valuable time that you can spend doing your proper job.   Most recruiters offer a rebate period post start date where there is some return on spend if the individual turns out to be less than they hoped.  However, in my experience, rebates are extremely rare -  although that could be due to my excellent recruitment skills!  I also have a very sound radar for when I think a client is not 100% committed to an individual and if asked for an extended rebate period, I will walk away. It shrieks that they are looking to 'test' out someone, safe in the knowledge they'll get their money back.  That's not fair to the individual or the recruiter.

I once worked for a recruitment agency who 'sold' psychometric testing as part of their package for clients....ridiculous.  And recruitment is so much more pleasant when you are not trying to sell useless extras or squeeze more money out of them.  Clients ultimately appreciate you finding people who a) have the right skills to do the job and b) who fit the profile of their business - there is somewhere for everyone....and I'm afraid I don't believe that psychometric tests are going to help with that*.

*I'll put a disclaimer here!  That my experience is solely within recruitment for advertising, marketing and digital sectors, perhaps psychometric tests are useful for say, recruitment of pilots....but again, I doubt it.