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Omni’s Head of Assessment James Crichton explains psychometric profiling and how organisations can effectively use it in their selection and recruitment processes.

What is psychometric personality profiling?

In this blog, we will focus on personality or styles profiling, as opposed to psychometric ability testing. A personality profile is a ‘catch-all’ term for a broad range of psychometric assessment instruments that seek to measure (-metric) an individual’s psychological attributes (psycho-).

Countless assessment tools fall within this category, each measuring different attributes and marketed in unique ways, with a broad range of claims about what they can achieve.

Typically, such tools present individuals with a questionnaire containing a number of statements, e.g. I am comfortable working alone, and require the individual being assessed to identify how much they agree with or recognise each statement. They do this by either giving each statement a rating on a pre-set scale (e.g. strongly agree, disagree, etc.) or ranking it against other statements, thus seeing which attributes the individual prioritises.

Broadly speaking (and slightly simplifying) there are two ways the individual’s responses to each statement are measured. They are either compared to those of other people to determine how typical the responses of the person being assessed are in relation to each attribute (normative approach), or a measurement is established by identifying which attributes the individual has prioritised over other attributes themselves, i.e. not in relation to others (ipsative approach).

Based on the responses across all of the statements in the questionnaire, a profile will be algorithmically generated, describing how the individual has self-identified, presenting perceived preferences, talents, strengths, dislikes and aversions against a framework of attributes the assessment is set up to measure. The attributes measured and how the results are presented differ widely across assessment tools.


What are the benefits of introducing personality profiling into a recruitment process?

Getting an insight into an individual’s preferences, talents, strengths, dislikes and aversions can be helpful when selecting the right person for a job. It’s what every assessment stage of the recruitment process, from screening to final interview, seeks to do. So, assuming the profile provides additional (relevant, fair and reliable) information, it will be beneficial.

In fact, there are a number of benefits that employing an appropriate psychometric profile in the right way can bring to a recruitment campaign, including:

Improved decision making: When employed correctly, as part of a considered assessment process, psychometric profiling provides insight into the candidate that supports decision making. Importantly, it can highlight potential risks of hiring that can be difficult to establish in other ways, which, without this stage, may go unnoticed until the candidate is in post. These insights should be fed into and validated by the broader assessment and decision making processes, resulting in a more considered and better hiring decision. Better hiring decisions lead to improved performance, increased retention, improved engagement and quicker time to productivity of new hires.

Identifying potential supports inclusive recruitment. Profiling can be used to establish ‘potential’ in individuals, allowing a hiring manager to identify strengths that may not be as evident in the individual’s work history. The ability to identify potential in a wider talent pool is hugely valuable in talent-short markets and allows a more inclusive approach to be taken to selection, which can have a positive impact on an organisation’s EDI objectives.

Enhanced candidate experience. When done well, the psychometric profiling element of a selection process can be an aspect candidates enjoy and gives them something back in the form of personal insight. By employing psychometric profiling well, organisations can differentiate themselves from competitors and demonstrate to candidates they are an employer that takes hiring seriously. This improved experience and increased buy-in means those candidates that get through to the offer stage tend to be more confident they are suited to the role, feel the employer has a good understanding of them and have positive feelings towards the organisation so may be more inclined to accept the offer.

Saves time and reduces the cost of recruitment. Profiling candidates well can save time and reduce costs in the recruitment process. This may feel counterintuitive, and speed is often a reason (some may say excuse) given when organisations want to take shortcuts in selecting new hires. However, ensuring the most relevant evidence is collected, interpreted and considered during selection, even if that extends the process by a few days, is much more likely to lead to i. offers being made, ii. offers being accepted, iii. the right people being offered the role, and iv. people staying in jobs once offered. Therefore, by progressing candidates through the right processes in the right way and considering the relevant information upon which to make your decision, you reduce the risk of having to re-recruit roles or begin campaigns again when the final shortlist falls apart.


Implementing psychometric profiling in a recruitment campaign

In theory, including a psychometric profile is a no-brainer: better decisions, improved candidate experience, more inclusive processes and fewer campaigns restarting. However, these benefits are only realised when this element is properly considered and appropriately implemented in the overall assessment process. When ill-considered or poorly implemented, psychometric profiling can have a significant negative impact, not least because not all personality profiles are suitable for use in selection processes, and it’s not always obvious to the untrained eye which are and which aren’t.

Fundamentally, the psychometric tool must measure attributes that lead to insights relating to the capability of the individual to perform in role. A key aspect often misunderstood is that these assessments do not directly measure ability or capability; they look at preference and self-perceived style, so the profile won’t tell you, in isolation, whether or not to hire someone or how objectively ‘good’ they are as something. However, they will provide solid evidence that can be explored with the candidate in the broader assessment process concerning the job-specific criteria you are seeking to establish competence in.

For these reasons, when thinking about implementing a psychometric profile, you should always ensure that someone with the knowledge and expertise in using such assessments is tasked with defining the process, overseeing the deployment and educating managers on the application.

With the appropriate tools selected, the application of that assessment needs to be defined in a way that drives the benefits sought. Involving hiring managers in this process early can be highly beneficial in getting buy-in and helping them to understand the application of a new or changed element in the recruitment process. It is very likely they will need support in understanding how best to use the new insights they have in their decision making, and this aspect should not be underestimated when implementing a new approach.


How Omni can help

Omni’s Assessment practice is a component of the Resourcing Transformation team. Our assessment specialists work with organisations to define and run assessment processes that include psychometric profiling.

As we do not publish our own psychometrics, we can select the most appropriate tools in the market based on what is best for that campaign, giving an objective, informed opinion across different tools.

If you need help in designing new or reviewing current tools or practices to ensure you are getting the best from your selection processes, are looking for an assessment partner that can run objective, deep-dive leadership and critical role psychometric profiling on your behalf, or you would benefit with support in engaging hiring managers who need to be convinced and supported in the deployment of a new approach, we can help. Our solutions can be implemented rapidly and are designed to dovetail into existing processes.