Using aptitude psychometric tests in hiring

Using aptitude psychometric tests in hiring

One of the biggest problems faced by HR managers, these days, is identifying the right skills to assess for each role, with enough clarity to help make the right decision. The use of overall impression makes for a highly problematic process. Such gut-feel assessments have been proven inadequate again and again; as such, the most qualified and fitting candidates may never be hired. That’s why we need aptitude psychometric tests in hiring.

Psychometrics and the different types of psychometric tests in hiring

Now, we’ve already discussed what psychometrics is all about, and how to understand it.

To briefly describe it, psychometrics concerns the quantification and measurement of mental attributes, behavior, performance, and similar attributes; as well as the design, analysis, and improvement of tests, questionnaires, and other instruments used in said measurement.

When looking for the best person to recruit, psychometric tests can be an indispensable ally. In broad terms, one would measure two wide domains: Whether the person in question can do the job and whether this person will do the job. 

The “will do” question is a complex one; does the candidate want to do the work the way the company wants it performed? Personality tests are commonly used for this.

The “can do question, we can answer by previous experience, a test of learned knowledge or a cognitive ability test that measures a person’s capacity to learn new stuff and analyze complex information.  

Let’s go through the different types of psychometric testing:

Personality testing

In recruiting new people for one’s company, personality tests enable the HR department — or the employer — to evaluate each applicant’s suitability for the role, assess cultural fitness, and identify the way they approach their subject matter expertise.

While knowledgeability and experience is important, personality tests are designed in a way that each behavioral trait is cross-referenced; maybe even compared to those of high-performing employees or managers in the company. We also assess decision making, teamwork and values related to each candidate’s personal code of conduct.

Ability or aptitude testing

Aptitude psychometric tests are an entirely different approach. To enumerate, aptitude testing involves identifying, qualifying and quantifying the types of skills an applicant possesses, as per the job description for the role required. It usually also involves an evaluation of how quickly one can learn new skills, either on a theoretical or practical level. That’s why aptitude psychometric tests often include one or more exercises on paper, or a questionnaire that simulates exam conditions.

Nowadays, aptitude psychometric tests are increasingly being offered and used by means of specialized online systems:

  • improving the process of data collection
  • accelerating the talent assessment process, 
  • eliminating the need for paper, promoting environmental friendliness; 
  • and, as of late, accommodating for the increasing demand of remote human resources.

What is aptitude psychometric testing in hiring?

Aptitude psychometric testing is, in hiring, an organized and systematic way to evaluate different applicants for fitness at a specific role in the organization. Counterintuitively, aptitude psychometric tests don’t only include what skills a candidate already knows and can immediately use. While some initial attainment is, obviously, required, most importantly, they include their ability to learn new skills and how fast they’re able to do it. And, that’s why we absolutely need to incorporate aptitude psychometric testing into the hiring process.

Aptitude psychometric tests in hiring: Why are they important?

For an HR manager or specialist to be able to properly evaluate the applicants for a job position, they need to keep in mind three important factors:

1. How to level the playing field

Aptitude psychometric tests are considered reliable; and, more importantly, a consistent way to evaluate a candidate’s behavioral traits, cultural fitness and overall suitability for the job. Standardizing the method for testing people, by means of the same set of objectively phrased questions, makes for an unbiased way to evaluate and assess them against a wide demographic.

2. How to conduct a valid recruitment process

We’ve all seen exceptionally written applications and references. Good things come with practice. But, we’ve also seen these same candidates being unable to deliver on skill set and suitability for the job. Aptitude psychometric tests can help bring validity to this entire process, by removing personality traits from the equation. Personality tests may have already been conducted, with a different test, or could be up next. But, conducting them apart, brings clarity and  focus to the real abilities we need to assess.

3. How to optimize hiring costs

Aptitude psychometric testing, as any type of psychometric testing is, typically, a more affordable solution, inasmuch as it allows us to do it en masse and online. But, the most important part of the hiring cost hides behind wrong hiring decisions. An aptitude psychometric test helps verify an applicant’s suitability for the job quite more definitively than any other method used. And that ensures we can carefully avoid a rehiring process; along with the costs incurred, of course.

How does aptitude psychometric testing work?

An increasing number of companies, in different industries, use aptitude psychometric testing to hire for new roles, showing a growth of 10%-15% each consecutive year. More importantly, a great percentage of them see high success rates. Companies in software development, banking and finance, legal, staffing, education, armed forces and many other industries are using aptitude psychometric testing, today, to manage their human resources. And, a 2019 research showed that more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies are using aptitude psychometric testing as a recruitment assessment tool, with great results!

But, how does aptitude psychometric testing work? Well, it looks at several different types of reasoning, built into the human condition.

Numerical reasoning

We use numerical reasoning to identify, qualify and quantify a candidate’s ability to perform basic mathematical calculations, with basic skills. And the idea is to find out how these skills transfer to real life situations, on the job, inasmuch as how well the candidate can analyze a situation and draw conclusions. Banking and finance, engineering, big data and other scientific fields would need to include numerical reasoning into their aptitude psychometric tests.

Verbal reasoning

Similarly, we use verbal reasoning to determine an applicant’s ability to evaluate written material, to make an informed decision, thus demonstrating a sound logical process. This is essential in nearly every job position conceivable, regardless of the industry.

Logical reasoning

Logical reasoning is all about problem-solving. Much as verbal reasoning, we can use the different types of logical reasoning to assess an applicant’s ability to consume and understand information, with the sole purpose of solving a problem. This gives the HR manager — or employer — a window into an applicant’s decision-making process in strategically structuring their work, assessing risks and mitigating them through problem-solving. While this is — or, should be — a requirement for most job positions, it’s exceptionally important in managerial positions, regardless of industry specialization.

Diagrammatic reasoning

Diagrammatic reasoning helps assess a candidate’s capacity for logical reasoning. And we typically do this using diagrams and flowcharts. Hence, the name “diagrammatic”.

Inductive reasoning

In turn, we use inductive reasoning — zooming into logical reasoning — to identify how adept an applicant is in identifying patterns and trends, using, again, diagrams and other types of diagrammatically structured information.

Error checking

As the name suggests, error checking tests for an applicant’s ability to identify errors in complex data sets. A seemingly simple, yet, really handy skill; especially in scientific, financial, engineering and similar fields.

Situational judgment

We use situational judgment to measure how a candidate will react to different situations. Given a hypothetical situation, the candidate is given specific options to choose from, in taking the most effective course of action. This measurement may also help understand how well the candidate can understand instructions.

How we use aptitude psychometric tests in hiring

Aptitude psychometric tests can be a complementary method in the hiring process. It certainly comes after the application stage. At that point, we can use aptitude psychometric testing to potentially streamline a large number of candidates. And, we have to do this before any interviews, to filter out any applicants who don’t match the minimum requirements.

While aptitude evaluation could have been another interview in the recruitment process, it costs time to do it that way; not to mention, it’s really difficult to consolidate interview information into a normalized data set, to make the optimal hiring decision. For these reasons, companies would often resort to staffing — or recruitment — companies to conduct said interviews.

Recruitment companies, today, use psychometric tests to come up with a suitable candidate for each job position. There is no other practical way to consistently observe behaviors and reactions, putting them into a normalized data set, thus, avoiding cognitive bias. Not to mention, tailoring further assessment activities to reach a conclusion takes some know-how, time and money. Why not reap the benefits of an aptitude psychometric test, to compare apples with apples? This would, eventually, help avoid making the wrong hires; which would, in turn, require a rehiring process for that role, inducing further delays.

What aptitude testing won’t help with

As mentioned, aptitude psychometric testing is not the same as personality testing. We usually conduct personality testing after we’ve established a candidate fits the bill, with regard to any skills required for the shoes they’ll be filling. That goes to say, introducing behavioral trait evaluation into identifying existing skills and the potential to learn new ones, removes a good amount of clarity from the much needed quality conclusions. As such, it’s preferable to conduct these two different tests separately.

What to avoid in aptitude psychometric testing for hiring

Managing HR for a company needs careful consideration; and it needs an optimized approach. To begin with, conducting a valid recruitment process, with a level playing field for all applicants, at the lowest possible cost should be the minimum requirement. But, there’s more.

Any measurement, in psychology, works with correlations. Being largely theoretical and statistical, any correlation larger than or equal to 0.5 is typically accepted as very strong; it means that the aspect we’re evaluating, we get right at least half the time. It also means, we might get it wrong, half the time. That’s why you need to avoid testing under certain conditions.

Avoid using tests that:

  • are not backed by scientific studies
  • have been arbitrarily compiled from different sources
  • are not designed for the purpose you need them
  • have not been tested for reliability — where applicants are hard to lie to

And, as mentioned, use testing as a complementary method, in combination with other recruitment methods.

TL;DR — Aptitude psychometric tests in hiring

Recruiting new people for your business is an intrinsically flawed process. It involves a mostly theoretical, rather than a practical approach. In other words, it’s not an exact science. Notwithstanding, an HR specialist should be able to approach hiring with gumption, making sure they can do the job with an optimized process, boasting minimal costs and the best possible results. That’s made possible with aptitude psychometric testing for hiring. Used as a complementary method to recruitment, quality aptitude psychometric testing can yield the best possible results in discovering how knowledgeable and able applicants are to use existing and develop new skills. And, conducted separately from personality trait assessment tests, one can make sure there is definitive clarity coming from aptitude psychometric testing, for hiring.