The value of psychometric tests can vary, as can their area of focus. When selecting what type of test to use it’s important to focus on what you want to find out.

I concluded last time with a brief description of a business reasoning test (the Hogan Business Reasoning Inventory) for job candidates. However, evaluating a candidate’s problem-solving competence more comprehensively requires another instrument, one that goes by the umbrella term “situational judgement test” or SJT.

The problems posed in these tests don’t have objectively correct answers. For example, when I’m evaluating responses to the Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI), I’m not looking for some objectively accurate answer but for the most and least desirable responses. I’m looking for characteristics that only emerge in social interaction – characteristics that will facilitate the respondent’s ability to get along with colleagues and achieve goals in that particular organisation and that particular organisational culture. I’m looking for characteristics that, in these conditions, could hinder the candidate’s progress. I end up with a clear picture of how others see the respondent, how they can play to their strengths, and what areas would benefit from more development.

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a Professor of Business Psychology at University College London (and CEO of Hogan Assessment Systems), recently drew attention to how misleading apparently obvious terms such as “work ethic” can often be. For many organisations, the term may have conventional meanings (such as reliability, trustworthiness and ambition). Questions in aptitude tests for this trait will tend to focus on how well people manage the tension between getting ahead and getting along. However, this isn’t always the case. Some organisations are more accepting of extreme ambition. Chamorro-Premuzic cites the example of a multinational consumer goods company that wanted “insanely driven” candidates, even if that quality meant they acted in bold and occasionally antisocial ways.

Hogan Psychometric Assessments can identify these characteristics extraordinarily reliably (they’re possibly the most intensively empirically-validated business aptitude tests on the planet), and that’s because they’re designed to respect the fact that organisations, and even different departments within the same organisation, will have their own unique profiles for success.

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