Using Psychometrics in Recruitment

Using Psychometrics in Recruitment

There are many views on the use of psychometrics in recruitment, ranging from dangerous and reductive to the best thing since sliced bread!.

As a busy manager how do you assess whether the cost of such tools are worth it to improve your ability to find the right person?

We all know that the costs of recruitment are high.  A study by Oxford Economics back in 2014 reveal that replacing a staff member costs an average of £30,614 per employee.  There are 2 key factors that make up this cost:

  • Cost of lost output whilst a new employee beds in to the organisation, and
  • Logistical costs of the recruitment process in terms of management time, recruitment fees and temporary cover.

If these costs are accurate, as a manager, you need to take every care possible to ensure that the person appointed will fit in with the rest of the team in terms of behaviours.

Technical skills should be a given. 

Assessing technical competence and experience to do the job are relatively straightforward, the bit that is more difficult is the behavioural side.

Assessing behaviours in interview is a bit of a black art.  Asking for examples of how they have behaved in the past is a good starting point.  However, as a manager you are fishing about in the dark as the candidate will always put their best side forward and the canny candidate always picks examples to show them off at their best.

To technical skills and beyond!

Psychometrics can be particularly useful here, as they give an insight into a candidate’s behavioural preferences from which you can probe how they adapt their preferences and whether or not these adaptations are sustainable.

As a manager what do you need to know when considering using psychometrics in recruitment?

Picking your Psychometric tool

Most robust psychometrics use the Big Five Personality Traits Model or (OCEAN) which dates back to the 1950s.  It is considered to be an accurate and respected personality scale and is based on 5 key dimensions of people’s personality:

Openness – How big picture thinking and creative you are

Conscientiousness – How discipline driven or organised you are

Extroversion/Introversion – Your level of sociability

Agreeableness – How focused on people you are rather than the outcome

Natural Reactions – Your emotional stability

Some considerations when choosing your psychometric, should include how the tool addresses:

Evaluative Bias – Most personality profiles focus on the first 4 of these dimensions.  However, some of these scales have evaluative bias built in which favours one end of the scale over the other.

For example: it is generally perceived as a positive to be high on the conscientious scale as this means you are organised.  The opposite end of the scale  is disorganised, which is not a trait many people would like to acknowledge.

However, those people who are low on the conscientious scale can be very adaptable and flexible in their approach and be able to deal with ambiguity far more effectively than those high on the scale.  In the VUCA (volatile, uncertain,  complex and ambiguous) world in which we live this trait can be incredibly beneficial.

The language used to describe being low on each of these scales also encourages this evaluative bias using words such as:

Low Openness  – conventional, down to earth, narrow interests, uncreative

Low Conscientiousness – disorganised, undependable, negligent

Low Extraversion – introverted, reserved, inhibited, quiet

Low Agreeableness – critical, rude, harsh, callous

Using a Linear Scale – Many tools which have been around a while tend to measure these traits on a linear scale.

For example: they measure how extraverted you are and assume that if you score low on this scale you must therefore be introverted.  This can further reinforce the belief that one end of the scale is better than the other.  Those tools developed more recently measure both ends of the scale and position each end positively.

Portraying what the interviewer wants to see

Another consideration is whether there is the ability to adjust the responses to the fact that the questionnaire is being answered in a high stakes situation, rather than a purely developmental one.

If you bear in mind psychometrics tend to mostly be self assessments, if we are applying for a new job, a candidate will want to show themselves off in the best light.  Therefore research has shown that candidates completing such tools in a recruitment scenario have a tendency to emphasis the outcome focused and discipline driven aspects of their personality and play down some of those traits which may be perceived as less attractive to a prospective employer.

There is no such thing as a perfect profile

A psychometric is not test, there are no right or wrong profiles.  As human beings we are all different and that diversity is helpful in the workplace.  Although it is very helpful to identify an ideal competency profile for a role against which to benchmark candidates, no decision should be made on the psychometric alone.

Personalities change over time, and most people can dial up or down their behavioural qualities dependent upon the situation.  Using a psychometric to inform the interview gives you information upon which you can probe how their personal preferences differ from the ideal profile and how they have adapted their behaviour to accommodate different individuals and situations.


We recommend using Lumina Select for your recruitment as it addresses all of the issues raised above.

Measuring 16 competencies it allows you to find the right people, ask the right questions and uncover hidden potential thereby avoiding costly recruitment errors.

Lumina Select takes into account the values of an organisation as well as the requirements of a specific role.  This ensures that the candidate is good for the organisation, and the organisation is good for the candidate.  It is designed to increase awareness for both the recruiter and the candidate so they can both get a better sense of the qualities and behaviours needed for a particular role within the culture of your organisation.

Not only does it give you a clear, easy to understand, one page summary report showing candidates strengths and weaknesses, it also indicates likely behaviours under stress.

The  accompanying Interview guide compares the individual self assessment against the ideal competency profile you are seeking.  It indicates any qualities the candidate may have which could act as blockers and how the candidate’s tendencies under stress may impact their abilities to retain those positive behaviours.

If you would like to know more please contact me on or 07977 932551.