Psychometrics is a field of study concerned with the theory and technique of psychological measurement. As defined by the US National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME), psychometrics refers to psychological measurement. Generally, it refers to the field in psychology and education that is devoted to testing, measurement, assessment, and related activities.
The field is concerned with the objective measurement of skills and knowledge, abilities, attitudes, personality traits, and educational achievement. Some psychometric researchers focus on the construction and validation of assessment instruments such as questionnaires, tests, raters’ judgments, psychological symptom scales, and personality tests. Others focus on research relating to measurement theory (e.g., item response theory; intraclass correlation).
One of the basic problems most Indian students face, is to select which stream he has to choose after Boards exam. Side by side there is also the perennial confusion of targeting the public sector or private sector jobs. The psychometric assessment tests can not only be eye openers in this regard, but also give realistic views to the student concerned. Many Indian educators also believe that regular usage of psychometric assessment tests can certainly help Indian students to reach the international standard of education, which has remained elusive as of yet barring IITs, IIMs and few other universities. Another significant hope is, psychometric assessment tests can help to bridge the gap between existing Indian education system and changing demands of neo employability and vast sea of opportunities coming up.
If you’re a parent, your children take them at school in between examinations to check their progress and predict their results. They sometimes highlight particular strengths and areas that need more teaching. If you’ve entered work on a graduate recruitment scheme, you’ve probably taken one during the milk round. And you may well have sat one when you went for your first or a subsequent job.
Psychometric tests provide an MOT of what goes on under the human bonnet. They compare one individual’s performance with other people’s or show what are the relatively strong and weak areas within one person. True psychometric tests look at three basic areas:
Abilities: people’s capacity to work with numbers, words, diagrams and systems
Attainment: what people actually know about an area
Personality: how people are typically likely to act. This covers a huge range of aspects from people’s motivations and values to how they characteristically react to authority and their honesty or integrity.
Mix and match these and you get dedicated tests of areas like emotional intelligence, trainability, leadership, customer service orientation and how people think – areas that are directly related to particular jobs. Assess lots of people in your company and you can get an organisational profile: how well your teams work; what particular skills you lack; who’s going to fit in.
Tests are used to recruit new staff; identify people with the potential to be promoted and developed; counsel staff who are under-performing; put teams together; coach senior managers; identify stress factors in an organisation; decide on the best organisational structure; create incentive programmes that really motivate – any decision about people individually or people in groups.
This could get long and complicated! Put simply, psychometrics is a set of techniques used to ensure, among other things, that;
you’re actually testing what you think you are testing. A written test of mathematics should be testing maths not writing for instance
your test gives the same results if it’s given to the same person twice or administered by different people
it’s fair to everyone
you know how accurate the measurement is and how far you can depend on it. No measure – whether of your height or your profit – is 100% accurate (just ask an accountant about the latter). Sometimes this can be significant (in the latter case ask the taxman!). Psychometrics allows you to weigh up the accuracy of your decision.
You should never use them on their own because tests can only provide part of the picture; interviews, for instance, provide information tests can’t reach.
But research shows that interviews, references and application forms are very bad at predicting whether people will succeed. Interviews are particularly dangerous because you will be hugely influenced by your prejudices, likes and dislikes without realising it. If you think back, you’ll remember the great candidate who proved to be a complete disaster. You might even recall the exciting company which employed you and which you left as quickly as you could. Let’s not forget that recruitment is two way! Using tests can never prevent mistakes like this, but they can make them less likely.
Psychometric tests sound rather academic but they’re actually a way of making hard-headed business decisions. They will increase your bottom line. They’ll decrease staff turnover, identify talent, create a more efficient organisation.
Psychometric tests sometimes look expensive. A good test might cost you £50 to administer and interpret. But since it may cost you £10,000 in direct costs if you recruit the wrong senior manager (and a lot more in indirect costs) this doesn’t seem too high a price.
Tests will also help companies defend against legal challenges to HR decisions, which might end up in expensive tribunals and court cases. It’s illegal to discriminate on grounds of gender, race, sexual orientation, age or religious belief. Test results are defensible evidence in court, whereas interviews are open to all sorts of challenges. And, of course, using them will ensure that you are being objective, building a successful, effective, motivated organisation.
Good recruitment and development practice are part of a company’s marketing and brand development. Even a rejected candidate will speak well of a company that’s taken the time to create a professional recruitment process which gives valuable feedback: tests provide that.
There are thousands of tests on the market. It’s a real growth area and, as with any product or service, it’s sometimes difficult to work out the cowboys from the cavalry.
Tests are particularly difficult in this respect. What defines a good test is the research and data behind the questions just as the design of a computer says nothing about the quality of the software or the processor. Internet-delivered tests are a particular problem since the ‘sexiness’ of their design is beguiling but many of them provide no evidence that they’re any good.
A good psychometric test will be absolutely transparent to you as a user. It will state how it was developed, how many people it was tried on, where it should be used and where not and, most importantly, how much you can trust the results.
Not anymore. Once upon a time the costs of training in, then buying the materials seemed prohibitive. The internet, centralised testing centres and the number of trained consultants available to run sessions means even the smallest company can get the benefits.