The truth about ticks…

What are psychometric assessments? Why do we use these and who uses these?

All over the world, when you apply for a job you can now expect to be asked to complete some sort of personality assessment by ticking a few boxes on a piece of paper. More and more companies have started using methods like personality assessments, ability tests and the good old IQ test to help them decide on the best candidate for the job. But are these tests valid? Do they really measure what they say they do and how well?  How can these tests benefit you as a job-seeker? And how can the recruiting company benefit from psychometric assessments in the long run?
What are psychometric assessments?

Psychometric assessments are validated and reliable tests that consist of either pencil-and-paper or online questionnaires. These questionnaires (or tests) are designed to measure the specific attributes, abilities, behaviours or preferences of the person completing the questionnaire. The tests are scientifically designed to measure a specific metric and have been tested on a large number of people to confirm this.

How do I know that these assessments are accurate?

Psychometric assessments that aren’t registered with the relevant health professions council or psychology council of a country, such as the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), are generally not the preferred assessments to use. It’s best practice to use only assessments that have been tried and tested.


What types of psychometric assessments are there?

Psychometric assessments can range from personality assessments to assessments that measure a candidate’s level of integrity. The most general psychometric assessments are:

  • Personality,
  • Reasoning ability, e.g. numerical, verbal and abstract reasoning abilities,
  • Learning potential,
  • Values and motives,
  • Integrity,
  • Career values and work orientation, and
  • Emotional intelligence.

Who can administer these psychometric assessments?

Psychometric assessments can only be administered by registered psychometrists or registered industrial psychologists.


If administering psychometric assessments forms part of any other registered psychologist’s scope of work, they are also allowed to manage these tests.

What are psychometric assessments used for?
Psychometric assessments can be used for either selection or developmental purposes:

  • Selection is when a company or organisation uses psychometric assessments to help them decide which candidate to appoint.NB: Psychometric assessments for selection purposes must be used together with other methods so you are able to make an informed decision.

Other methods can include group and individual interviews or in-baskets.

By using the results of all of these methods, the assessment administrator can create a profile of each candidate, which gives an indication of the person’s:

  • Strengths,
  • Development areas, and
  • Abilities and preferences.

This obviously depends on what gets measured by each assessment.

This profile is then compared to the job profile of the available position.

Psychometric assessments for developmental purposes are used to measure people who are already employed within a company or organisation. This is done to determine which employees can be further developed. For example, who has the potential to become a manager or a supervisor? With developmental assessments, the industrial psychologist who administered the assessments then develops a personal development plan (PDP) for each employee assessed. This PDP is designed to help the employee better his strengths and minimise his development areas. This benefits both the employee and his employer in the long run.

It’s important to keep in mind that when you use psychometric assessments, it’s wise not to use just one of the assessments but to combine two or more assessments to validate your findings:

  • Usually, a personality assessment will be used with a values and motives assessment or a reasoning ability and a learning potential assessment. This all depends on what the psychometric assessments are used for: development or selection.

So how do psychometric assessments benefit the recruiting company?

By using psychometric assessments, the recruiting company ensures that no more money or time is spent than what is needed to identify the ideal candidate. This is done by eliminating the candidate who doesn’t fit the job profile and cancelling out long-term problems such as absenteeism, employees who aren’t engaged and problems with ability and integrity. So get those ‘ticking papers’ ready…