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Psychometric tests to become increasingly popular

7 May 2011

Psychometric tests to become increasingly popular

Psychometric tests to become increasingly popular

From the boardroom to the football pitch, psychometric tests seem to be playing an increasingly important role in the selection of the brightest and best in almost all walks of life.

Over the past five years or so the tests have grown in popularity and a glance at the new headlines suggest they will play an increasingly important role in the selection of a wide range of professionals - from teachers and nurses to premiership footballers.

A national newspaper recently reported that Arsenal has adopted psychometric tests as a way to judge young in terms of, competitiveness, emotional control and stress.

Arsenal stars past and present, including Henry, Anelka, Trezeguet, Walcott, Wilshere and Ramsey, have all undergone the tests to help judge their strengths and weaknesses.

It has long been recognised that psychology plays a major part in sporting success, and many teams across a wide range of sports employ psychologists, but this is one of the first examples of it playing a significant role in the selection of new talent.

In the business world the picture is rather different. Psychometric tests have long been part of the recruitment process. What has changed is the sophistication of the tests themselves, which can now identify particular personality traits.

This is particularly important in careers such as nursing and a number of hospitals in the UK, including Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, have adopted the tests to assess the ability of trainees to preserve the dignity and respect of patients.

Psychometric tests have also been widely used during the selection process for careers that involve high levels of stress or danger, including the police force and the army. Airline pilots also have to undergo regular psychometric evaluation to ensure they are fit to fly.

Traditionally, there have been two main types of psychometric tests, aptitude tests and personality tests.

Aptitude tests measure abilities such as verbal, numerical, or abstract reasoning and are almost always presented in a multiple-choice format. The questions have definite right and wrong answers and they are strictly timed and so candidates need to work through them as quickly and accurately as possible to be successful.

There are literally thousands of aptitude tests which employers can use in the selection process and new tests are continually being developed by dozens of different providers.

The second type of psychometric test, known as a personality test is perhaps the one that has seen the greatest increase in popularity in recent times. Such personality or behaviour tests are used to determine how a candidate is likely to behave under various conditions.

There are supposedly no right or wrong answers, and the questionnaires are usually completed without a strict time limit. As there are no right or wrong answers it is impossible to 'cheat' in the conventional sense and when carried out correctly they can give a good indication of an individuals personality.

To assist in this process, many psychometric testing systems also outline distinct personality types.

As well as being the fastest growing area of psychometric testing it is also probably the most controversial. The area is poorly regulated and a lot of companies make extravagant claims about the validity of the science behind them. However there are plenty of reputable options, especially those based on established psychological principles.

What is certain, however, is that in today's economic climate with more people chasing fewer jobs, psychometric testing is only going to increase in popularity as employers seek out the most suitable candidates.

In response, the industry will continue to refine their existing psychometric tests to cover an even wider range of applications in both business and sport - whether to find the people with the will to win or the personality to empathise with those in their care.


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