Maxwell Stephens

Psychometric Tests: To be or not to be, that is the question

Psychometric tests were initially designed to test a person’s intelligence. However, nowadays they are more commonly known for being used to test whether a person will be suited to a specific job during the recruitment process when recruiting in Facilities Management.


Psychometric tests grew in popularity at the beginning of the 21st century, however, not everyone has been a supporter with many opponents claiming that the tests are unfair and biased, so do psychometric tests add value when used to make a decision on who to hire in Facilities Management?


Psychometric tests are governed by a code of ethics devised by the British Psychological Society and are designed to test how a person will act and react in certain situations and how their thinking is ordered and structured, with the purpose of inferring whether or not that person will be suitable for a particular type of job in FM.


With over 70% of large companies and a growing number of medium and small companies now using psychometric tests in Facilities Management, it can be assumed that there are definite benefits and that they add value to the recruitment process.


If the information they provide is made available to employers then they are, in theory, in a better position to employ the correct person for the FM role in question. For example, a psychometric test may reveal that a Facilities Manager is not suited to using their creativity to problem solve. If the particular FM role requires this skill then it is of benefit to the recruiters to know at an early stage that this candidate will not be successful.


This type of vital information can be used in the short listing of candidates to ensure that the people who move forward and are selected for interview have the correct characteristics to complete the job effectively. In essence what psychometric tests do is ensure that the employers and candidates time is not wasted by interviewing wholly unsuitable people.


In the current recruitment climate with hundreds and sometimes thousands of people applying for one FM job, psychometric tests appear to add even more value than they had done previously. They provide a quick and relatively easy way to cut a group of several hundred, to a manageable number of potential candidates without having to spend the time interviewing or even reading the application forms.


However, employers often fall into the trap that the tests will reveal undoubtedly whether a person can do a job or not. This is not their function and to use them as such may actually hinder the recruitment process.


As with the majority of psychological tests, psychometrics are complex and designed to be delivered in a certain manner. They are not a quick assessment tool that reveals if a person can or cannot do a job, as they are often perceived to be. Their complexity means that the people using them should be highly skilled and be able to interpret the results in a clear and usable way. Training is provided on how to administer psychometric tests and guidelines published that should be adhered to. Research has shown that is the tests are not administered and analysed properly then the results they provide are virtually useless, or more worryingly, can reveal incorrect results which may suggest a candidate is suitable when they are not, or vice versa.


Whilst, the tests are designed to be fair and promote equality due to the fact that everyone receives the same test this is not accurate according to some opponents of psychometric testing. According to reports the tests are open to bias and may favour certain sectors of the population, leaving other, minority groups, at a disadvantage. If recruiters are using the psychometric tests to shortlist then these groups will be underrepresented and the employers may be losing out on potentially excellent employees.


It is likely that psychometric tests will continue to be used as they offer a valid insight into a person’s future behaviour and thought patterns. Research is almost conclusive that when used appropriately psychometric tests are a valid tool which can add value to the recruitment process in FM, however, there is also a wealth of evidence that suggests this is only half of the story. If misused, whether intentionally or because the employer is unaware of how to use the tool appropriately, the results can certainly lead to exceptional candidates being dismissed as inadequate. As with any test there will be some degree of bias and this can also lead to the wrong people being put forward.


Psychometric tests should therefore be used in the manner in which they were designed – as a tool to make inferences and in combination with other recruitment methods, and not, as they are often used, as a determinate of whether a person can or cannot do a certain facilities job.

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