Psychometric Testing Frequently Asked Questions

What are psychometric assessments?

Psychometric tests are psychological measurement tools used when you need an objective assessment of a person’s personality, aptitude, integrity and interest. A great time to give a psychometric test is during the job selection process, however can be used for various other situations such as during promotions, team selection or staff placements. These tests may be giving during the application section as a way of screening candidates for interviews. Determining someone’s motivation, values, and reactions to their environments can be a handy tool when evaluating a candidate. By reviewing the results of the test, you will be able to objectively determine the type of person that you may potentially hire, as far as ability, personality, integrity and interests.

Career guidance psychometric assessments are standardized tests used by learners to measure aptitude, personality profile, interest and moral profile and can form part of a career guidance program.

In the corporate world, psychometric assessments are one of the most effective tools used by human resources divisions, managers and company owners to understand the people that they are assessing for employment, or to deploy staff members in a means to maximize their effectiveness in the company. The assessments are standardized making them fair and unbiased.

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What are the legal requirements in South Africa for psychometric assessments?

In South Africa, Section 8 of the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998 sets out the requirements for psychological testing, which includes psychometric tests. Section 8 states that: “Psychological testing and other similar assessments of an employee are prohibited unless the test or assessment being used

(a) has been scientifically shown to be valid and reliable;

(b) can be applied fairly to all employees;

(c) is not biased against any employee or group; and

(d) has been certified by the Health Professions Council of South Africa established by section 2 of the Health Professions Act, 1974 (Act 56 of 1974), or any other body which may be authorised by law to certify those tests or assessments.”

All of the psychometric assessments used by the PISA Integrity Assessment Centre has been registered and classified with the Health Professions Council of South Africa and are conducted by a qualified psychometrist.

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What is psychometrics?

Put very simply, psychometrics is a set of techniques used to ensure, among other things, that;

  • you're actually testing what you think you are testing. A written test of mathematics should be testing maths not writing for instance
  • your test gives the same results if it's given to the same person twice or administered by different people
  • it's fair to everyone
  • you know how accurate the measurement is and how far you can depend on it. Psychometrics allows you to weigh up the accuracy of your decision.

In other words, psychometrics is scientifically validated as accurate and reliable and implemented by professionals to ensure that the highest standards of practice are maintained. There is a difference between a high quality psychometric test and an online "quiz." There are thousands of tests on the market. It's a real growth area and, as with any product or service, it's sometimes difficult to work out the cowboys from the cavalry. Tests are particularly difficult in this respect. What defines a good test is the research and data behind the questions.  A good psychometric test will be absolutely transparent to you as a user. It will state how it was developed, how many people it was tried on, where it should be used and where not and, most importantly, how much you can trust the results.

Can small companies and businesses benefit from the use of psychometric testing?

Once upon a time the costs of training in, then buying the materials seemed prohibitive. The internet, centralised testing centres and the number of trained consultants available to run sessions means even the smallest company can get the benefits. With modern day psychometric assessment techniques it is very easy to implement and one of the least expensive means of gaining insight into applicants during pre-employment screenings.

There's a strong argument that smaller companies need to use the technique even more than larger ones. A rogue senior manager in a 30,000 staff company can do damage; in an SME with 10 employees he or she can literally destroy the business. Every recruitment decision in a small business is high stakes.

Why should companies use psychometric tests?

Research shows that interviews, references and application forms are very bad at predicting whether people will succeed. Interviews are particularly dangerous because you will be hugely influenced by your prejudices, likes and dislikes without realizing it. If you think back, you'll remember the great candidate who proved to be a complete disaster. Using tests can never prevent mistakes like this, but they can make them less likely. Psychometric assessments allows a company to gain valuable insights and information regarding a candidate which can be used with structured interviews to empower a company to make the right decisions.

Since personalities, abilities, and interests are tests included in psychometric testing, it is a smart decision for anyone that is in the hiring role to include these into your pre-interview screening process and also the pre-employment screening process. All career fields could benefit from learning more about the applicant. These tests will allow for employers to have a better understanding of the team they are building and can cause you to be able to make a team that is well rounded in every area. As an employer or hiring manager, you can use this test to help you fix any weaknesses that your current team may have by hiring someone how has a strength that your team is missing.

What are the benefits to using psychometric assessments?

Psychometric tests sound rather academic but they're actually a way of making hard-headed business decisions. They will increase your bottom line. They'll decrease staff turnover, identify talent, create a more efficient organisation.

Psychometric tests sometimes look expensive, but they are probably the most cost effective means of pre-employment applicant screenings and can save your company a lot of money when looking at the return on investment. Proper pre-employment assessments can decrease staff turnovers and assist in combating criminal and illegal activities at the company. Proper implementation of the assessments can also increase the productivity of staff members as they are deployed in positions for which they are suited, and in which they can thrive.

Tests will also help companies defend against legal challenges to HR decisions, which might end up in expensive tribunals and court cases. It's illegal to discriminate on grounds of gender, race, sexual orientation, age or religious belief. Test results are defensible evidence in court, whereas interviews are open to all sorts of challenges. And, of course, using them will ensure that you are being objective, building a successful, effective, motivated organisation.

Good recruitment and development practice are part of a company's marketing and brand development. Even a rejected candidate will speak well of a company that's taken the time to create a professional recruitment process which gives valuable feedback: tests provide that.

How Can We Help You?

Do not hesitate to contact the PISA Integrity Assessment Centre and let our years of experience work for you. Whether you would like to make a booking, ask for a consultation or would like more information on how our multitude of products and service can benefit your business, we are ready and eager to assist in any way we can.

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For more information specifically related to polygraph examinations, please visit The Polygraph Institute of South Africa.

For more information specifically related to pre-employment screenings, please visit the Pre-Employment Screening Centre.

For more information specifically related to our psychometric assessments, please visit the PISA Psychometric Assessment Centre.