Personality test offers clue to job suitability

Today, it is generally agreed that organisations have a professional, ethical and legal obligation to assess and attach their employees’ work-related behaviours and preferred ways of working

Friday August 29 2014

Youth line up for interviews recently.

Youth line up for interviews recently. Psychometric tests can help prospective employers to find the best match of individual to occupation and working environment. PHOTO BY STEPHEN OTAGE 

By Imran Nsubuga

Today, it is generally agreed that organisations have a professional, ethical and legal obligation to assess and attach their employees’ work-related behaviours and preferred ways of working. When well handled, organisations can then drive the best possible benefit from their valued work-force.
Personality (considered the key influence to work-related behaviours) is not an easy subject to measure and assess given the different sectors and work levels. Fortunately there is a scientific discipline, psychometrics, for testing the work-related attributes of personality such as leadership, risk tolerance, assertiveness, competitiveness, cooperation, etc.
Psychometrics, a blend of psychology and statistics, provides both a discipline for developing valid and reliable tests and standards against which the bona fides of a test can be evaluated.
The use of psychometrics is commonplace today, but people are often unclear about the benefits of testing, the typical investment required and the availability of tests.
Psychometric tests have been used since the early part of the 20th Century and were originally developed for use in educational psychology. These days, outside of education, you are most likely to encounter psychometric testing as part of the recruitment or selection process. Tests of this sort are devised by occupational psychologists and their aim is to provide employers with a reliable method of selecting the most suitable job applicants or candidates for promotion.
But the concept doesn’t end or yield much here!
Psychometric tests should aim to measure attributes like intelligence, aptitude and personality to provide a potential employer with an insight into how well a candidate works with other people, how well he/she handles stress, and whether he/she will be able to cope with the intellectual and situational demands of the job.
As a recruitment and selection tool, these tests can be applied in a straightforward way at the early stages of selection to eliminate candidates who are likely to be unsuitable for the job. They can also provide management with guidance on career progression for existing employees as well as provide an insight into talent management to HR.
Psychometric tests used in recruitment and selection should not be confused with tests used in clinical psychology as they make no attempt to analyse employees’ emotional or psychological stability. However, in recent years, there has been rapid growth of tests that claim to measure integrity or honesty and predisposition to anger but these have attracted a lot of controversy, because of questions about their validity, but their popularity with employers has continued to increase.

Why personality testing?
Personality has a significant role to play in deciding, for instance, whether one has the enthusiasm and motivation that is required to perform a given task. It also determines how well one is going to fit in to the organisation, in