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Occupational Psychometric Testing

A growing number of companies are turning to occupational psychometric testing, this measures personality and ability as a way of identifying talented managers and leaders rather than relying on interview alone. Some companies have recognised the value of testing at all levels to secure the right staff for their company. At a recent meeting, I attended, it was estimated that the cost to a business in appointing the wrong candidate could be, on average, from around £4,500 to upwards of £7,500 and this figure recognised the appointment of all employees from apprentices through to senior management level.

The real facts are that in employing a new member of staff you are not only looking at the time in producing and placing an advertisement or hiring a recruitment firm to find you suitable candidates; short listing and interviewing applicants but should consider the costs in down time for initial workplace induction for the newly appointed employee (health and safety, basic workplace knowledge etc); and include the time they will need to settle in to their new role before they become a fully effective member of their team and your company. It is thought it can take between 3 and 6 months before a new employee is settled and productive, however, for a young apprentice the return on investment may not be seen until well in to their apprenticeship.

So what are these tests and are they of value?

There are many psychometric tests on the market, some are relatively inexpensive and some cost many hundreds of pounds. As a rule of thumb the more expensive tests, are the ones usually used for the senior appointments in a business but this is not a definite rule.

The best way to use the tests is to combine a personality test with occupational and/or ability tests - for example mental ability, verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning or spatial ability. Again these are produced for different ability levels so at PTS we have occupational tests – mental ability, numerical ability and use of words and the ability tests we would use for apprentices, shop floor workers and team leaders and a more complex range for middle and senior managers. By using a variety of tests with a personality test you achieve a wider picture of all your applicants’ strengths and weaknesses to enable you to engage the applicant who is the most competent and best fit for your business. At PTS we see the first part of this process as discussing the job role with you and the qualities and attributes you are seeking. Surprisingly many interviewers do not establish these vital criteria prior to interviewing. PTS can also suggest pertinent questions you may wish to ask interviewees or assist you with the interview.

Occupational tests can easily show the applicant’s ability in numeracy or literacy if these skills are necessary for the role; for example numeracy for a job involving figures and money. Ability tests such as Spatial Ability will show if an applicant can “think outside the box” important for anyone in design or requiring artistic ability, Parts will show how well an applicant can visualise the parts that make the whole; important in a production or manufacturing role.

Psychometric tests will show the personality of the applicant for example – are they introvert or extrovert - important if they are in a selling role; do they have good attention to detail if this is a vital quality for the role; are they warm or cool with people – important in a customer facing role; do they work well in a team or are they more suited to working alone. As you can see by identifying the needs of the role at the beginning of recruitment the more important it is to employ the right person to meet those needs and by testing you have a greater chance of appointing the right applicant.

Equally the tests can be used to select the right person for a team where testing has been used to set a benchmark for the calibre of staff you want the applicant to work with or to identify talented individuals for promotion.

How do I decide who to use for testing and which tests?

Anyone who is marking a test and giving feedback should be registered with the British Psychological Society and will be listed on The Register of Qualified testers in Test Use (RQTU) which is the official record of all test users who have been awarded qualifications in educational, occupational (or forensic context) to use test approved by the British Psychological Society. Members of the RQTU also agree to abide by the Code of Good Practice in Psychological Testing and to maintain their competence.

PTS use a range of tests including NEO PI-R Personality Assessment, the Identity Psychometric Assessment, the IPI series and PPM series in addition to our own in-house tests.

There are other well known brands around such as Cattell’s 16 Personality Factors, Saville and Holdsworth’s OPQ and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

Price and brand name, as with many things in life, is not an indicator of quality or excellence. If you have ever watched a food programme on television where they conduct a taste test you will know that it is rarely the most expensive or the popular brand that most testers prefer. Equally judged against a brand they usually use, many testers are surprised at the quality of a cheaper and less well known brand. It is exactly the same with testing.

Taking the use of testing further and building successful teams

At PTS we take the use of testing further and have often used personality, occupational and ability tests in conjunction with Belbin Interplace. Many of you will be familiar with Dr Meredith Belbin’s work on team role theory and I have had the privilege of working with Meredith, through the years, on a wide variety of projects. Using Belbin Interplace has enabled me, with testing, to put together very successful teams. As we all know a successful team will show better performance, greater productivity, better morale and less absenteeism which in turn leads to less wastage, better results and increased profits.

How do we make existing teams perform better?

Realistically we are unable to build many teams from scratch so we look at the existing team and their team roles. Sometimes (where possible) by moving a team member to another team we can completely change the team’s dynamics. We can bring a team together for a day and with the use of carefully selected events enable them to see why they perform the way they do, help them understand their fellow team members strengths and weaknesses, discuss ways they can adapt their roles and behaviours to strengthen the team and follow up a team day with one to one coaching and mentoring, if required. Occasionally a team doesn’t work well because of one important and valued member’s inability to function in the team which can lead to confrontation and staff turnover where other, equally valued and important members of staff are resigning because they can take no more. We will look at the individual’s behaviour, why they upset the team and suggest to them tips and tricks to deflate and improve situations and encourage them by coaching and mentoring them to success.

If you would like our help with recruitment selection, team building, rebuilding a dysfunctional or broken team or coaching and mentoring please get in touch on 01623 345119 or via our website using the “Contact Us” page – Contact Page


6th February 2016

Telephone:  01623 345119 - Optimising talent for success ....