Published in the Business Daily
When I started talking about psychometrics, about fourteen or so years ago, people likened it to horoscopes. There were few people who knew what they were about and a few organisations using assessments. There was little faith that any instrument could be accurate. The common phrase I would get from recruiters was “ I know when someone is right for the job… I just know” My response was, “ If one person can know, then imagine a whole team coming together, based on scientific research and methods tried and tested, creating questions based primarily on psychology to give you accurate information on a person.”
Psychometrics can be said to be the measure of ‘latent qualities of an individual’ be they mental attributes, personality, and others. Today, the use of assessments in the region has grown tremendously since the’ horoscope’ days. And its a multi- billion industry worldwide. And it continues to grow with further education in the science of psychometrics.
Recruitment assessments can be predictive instruments because they give information on if the person will be successful at a role, to a certain degree. Recruitment assessments therefore have to have predictive validity for them to be used at all.
And it is against best practice when we use personality assessments, not created for recruitment, like Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and other personality assessments, to filter our candidates. This common mistake is not only made in Kenya but is a global problem. It happens when recruiting firms/organisations haven’t taken the time to understand what Psychometrics assessments are about and what constitutes good policy when administering them. In most of the countries that have used assessments for a longer time, there are laws against using assessment that are not normed against a certain population. Or that have no relevant research giving acceptable validity and reliability indices as prescribed by Global Psychometric Standards. To be on the safe side, you need to ensure that the hiring assessment used, has backing research and the relevant validity checks done.
Cognitive ability still consistently remains the best predictor of job performance across all job types, levels and industries. Behavioral/Personality assessments tell us if a person will find it easy to fulfill certain requirements of that role. These assessments will also tell you that “She prefers to work alone”, when she was all bubbly at an interview. If your assessment also has what we call a measure for occupational interests, as suggested by the Holland Code, then you will understand if the person will be motivated by the role outside of money matters. On top of all this, you might also want to use case studies and assessment centers as possible additions to your hiring process.
The reports on the cost of a bad hire are well documented if you just Google. It can cost you from 30% of their annual salary to three times their annual salary if you factor in things like recruitment costs, training and onboarding, negative impact on team performance, customer satisfaction scores, re-work, repairing damaged relationships and a lot of other things that are a by product of a bad hire. But here is the clincher; we rarely fire unless the problem is really bad. We can be stuck with a bad hire for a long time.
Job fit is written about in many publications. But even a good assessment, with an inaccurate description of the role, will not give optimal information. The practice of putting the same attributes to almost every role doesn’t help much. What a good assessment will do is allow you to think through and pick key attributes that make that role successful. Does ‘decisive’ have to one of those must haves in every Job Description? Especially in sensitive roles that make sensitive decisions that require a lot of consultation. A highly decisive person will make quick decisions often times without proper consultation. Of course nurture will also determine if this person is aware and has taken steps to ensure that they are balanced in their decision-making. Which is why an assessment result should only constitute about 30% of the total score.
Understanding the measure given by any psychometric assessment is also KEY in being able to interpret the results the way it was intended to be. And that is why getting certified in the psychometric assessment that you are using is a MUST. A lot of people avoid this as it can be expensive but in the long run, it is well worth it.
In the end, if used consistently, assessments give a company useful data to make decisions. Information on high performing employees that can be used in future hires. It gives an organization a common language to run other initiatives such as team building and mapping, succession planning and talent mapping and career guidance. It makes the workplace a better place to be because no one likes to be a round peg in a square hole. Employees who are a good fit for their role are more engaged, are more productive, can be a better co-worker, reduces turn over of the company, And there are many parameters to be considered here, including culture fit.