Psychometric tests - An effective method of matching people to jobs?

Essay, 2005

11 Pages, Grade: 53%=2,7


Table of Content

0 Introduction

1 Psychometric tests
1.1 General facts
1.2 Advantages
1.3 Disadvantages

2 Conclusion

3 Appendixes

0 Introduction

“Fitting square pegs into square holes and round pegs into round holes.”

(Lorna McKinnon, freelance journalist)

The history of test development goes back to 400 BC when Hippocrates attempted to define four basic temperament types: sanguine, melancholic, choleric, phlegmatic. But his method and numerous other attempts were hardly scientific. “The first attempt to scientifically measure the differences between individual mental abilities was made by Sir Francis Galton in the 19th Century […] he devised a system which would allow an individual's abilities to be compared to those of others - an idea on which we rely heavily today.” (Healy)

In the 1950’s Prof. Alec Rodger created the definition ‘fitting the man to the job’ nowadays more known as ‘fitting the person to the job’ which exactly describes the concern of a psychometric test. These tests are more and more in use for the selection process in companies.

Consequently, in this essay advantages as well as disadvantages of psychometric tests will be discussed. Therefore, there will be a critical analysis whether psychometric tests are an effective method of matching people to the job.

1 Psychometric tests

1.1 General facts

“A psychometric test is a series of written or practical tests which assess a clearly defined sample of human behaviour.” (OPP Ltd.)

Basically, there are three main test types: intelligence tests, personality tests/ questionnaires, and interests tests. Appendix 1 shows one example question of psychometric tests.

Firstly, intelligence tests are designed to examine the logical reasoning or thinking of people. There are either general tests or specific tests which are more common in the employment selection process. For the specific testing there are two different approaches. Firstly, the attainment test which tests the already gained knowledge of a test-taker and secondly aptitude tests which are measuring the potential for certain activities. These tests are mostly done by verbal or numerical testing. Verbal tests evaluate the ability to work with written information and numerical tests appraise the ability to work with numbers, charts and graphs. Intelligence tests are normally done under time pressure and in a multiple choice mode. Therefore, these tests are mostly not possible to finish in time. Nevertheless, the candidate should try to solve as many questions as possible because it proves whether the candidate has a good stamina. The score of the test-taker is compared to a test group which was tested before for example some students or graduates. “This allows selectors to assess your reasoning skills in relation to others and to make judgements about your ability to cope with tasks involved in the job applied for.” (HWU Career Advisory Service)

Secondly, there are personality questionnaires which are designed to measure attitudes, habits and values. In a personality test are no right or wrong answers because each test-taker has a different personality and approach towards things and matters and not each person fits to the certain job. Therefore, the participant should answer the questions honestly and in a straightforward manner. Canned answers could destroy the trustworthiness of the candidate. The test person should not try to guess the expected answers for the questions because then the person gets probably a job offer for a position he/ she cannot fulfil and does not the meet the demand. This probably leads to a dissatisfaction of both parties because the employer must look for a new candidate and the employee probably could suffer from strains and may fall sick.

The last kind of psychometric testing are interest tests which are mostly questions about the test-takers interest aspects of the career or the job. The questions range from “[…] preferred environments, to preferences working with people, ideas etc. Typical tests may include dozens of questions and include preferences in terms of level of education or training aspired to or desired. They may also include health factors.” (Denny) These tests should be thoroughly worked out and prepared so that the employers can really rely on the truthfulness of these tests. Questions can vary from very mundane to very sophisticated ones so it could swiftly be found out whether the candidate fits to the job and in which area skills and abilities could be developed and improved. These findings could be discussed with the candidate to find out about the willingness to learn and improve abilities and skills and about the motivation level. This could be then one quite good hook for performing the interview.

Psychometric tests have five key characteristics: objective, standardised, reliable, valid, and discriminating. That means test results should not be influenced by any preferences of the surveyor and therefore be absolutely unbiased. An independent test team would be the best to carry out these tests.

“The colour of a test-taker's socks or the strength of their handshake should not influence the score the administrator assigns to them.” (OPP Ltd.) Each candidate will get the same test and each test will scored congruent to standard procedures so that the test can be compared to known standards. Psychometric tests will measure in a believable way and they should predict the test-taker’s future job performance. The last key characteristic is discrimination which means the test must show clear varieties between each tested individual but not in a discriminatory way for example by being unfairly against minority groups.


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Psychometric tests - An effective method of matching people to jobs?
Edinburgh Napier University
Work Psychology
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ISBN (eBook)
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502 KB
In this essay advantages as well as disadvantages of psychometric tests will be discussed. Therefore, there will be a critical analysis whether psychometric tests are an effective method of matching people to the job.
Psychometric, Work, Psychology
Quote paper
Marieluise Bruch (Author), 2005, Psychometric tests - An effective method of matching people to jobs?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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