By Mark James

Psychometrics arose from the theories of intellectuals like Darwin and Weber, their ideas fueling its birth as a field of research. Since then it’s been taken up by companies across the business spectrum, an array using psychometric tests to separate potential candidates.

Thought to identify a person’s aptitudes, personality, or ability they’re often seen as a shortcut to sifting out unsuitable employees. With conglomerates and multinationals using them as a small business it can be tempting to do so too, but they’re not without their shortcomings. Here are some reasons why…

Honesty is not always the best policy
A psychometric test’s validity is built on the premise of people answering truthfully, but the reality is candidates can stretch the truth if they’re eager for a job. In CV’s and interviews we’re often told to sell ourselves so why not do the same in a psychometric test? Faced with a job they really want there’s a good chance a candidate could fabricate, minimising their negative attributes whilst maximising their positive traits. Honesty is not always the best policy when you’re chasing a new job, psychometric tests open to exaggeration just like the traditional CV.

Potential is overlooked
While if answered honestly a psychometric test can provide you with a rough idea about a person, there’s an argument to be made that these characteristics and capabilities can change.

The introvert can become the extrovert over the course of time and as the experts will tell you, IQ can change too. The risk with psychometric emphasis is that you can cast potential aside, good employees lost at the behest of an unreliable test.

Personalities are complex
Psychometric tests tend to offer candidates a fixed number of answers, which whilst perhaps posing no problems for examining intelligence and aptitude, can have its limits when you’re exploring a person’s personality traits.

Human nature is incredibly complex, people an amalgamation of characteristics, and this is something psychometric tests can struggle to take into account. As a result, on the personality front it’s hard to say that they offer complete accuracy.
They don’t legislate for the language barrier
As the world’s become more globalised so the recruitment process has too and this has obvious implications on the psychometric test.

Non-native English speakers may struggle to understand questions, with candidates misinterpreting and failing to answer as they intended to. As a result, the data can be skewed and capable candidates overlooked, a mere lack of linguistic ability scuppering their employability.

Although psychometric tests can be useful but don’t let them influence your recruitment too much. Use them as part of broader strategy and don’t be ruled by their results.

Mark James is a business writer who currently works in-house for Crunch Accounting, a UK-based online accountancy firm. A former freelancer, he’s contributed to a range of business publications on and off-line, writing mainly on finance, HR and marketing. Find him on Twitter @MarkJames891.