Choosing the Right Psychometric Profiling for You.

With the plethora of profiling tools (PP) out there, it can be a minefield choosing the right psychometric profiling for you. How do you manage your way through the jargon and sales pitch?

Psychometric profiling simply means ‘measuring the mind’. It is a way of objectively measuring complex psychological traits, such as personality and intelligence, to identify the differences between individuals.  Appraising people is a highly complex and subjective process, and psychometric tests are a good way of building impartiality into assessing people’s “hidden” traits.

Like any tools, however, they are only of benefit when they are the right tool for the job in hand and are used correctly. You may wonder why you need them at all.


The general benefits of psychometric profiles are that they can allow you to:

  • build objective insight of your characteristics and how you can then use them to your advantage.
  • understand how you interact with others, which can reduce conflict and improve teamwork.
  • make more informed decisions when recruiting by letting you see beneath the mask. It can prompt insightful focused questions to ask and also highlight how the person would fit into the current culture.
  • save time by the use of on-line forms and rapid reporting.
  • focus your people development into the areas most needed rather than a ‘sheep-dip’ approach.

Which one is right for you?

There are hundreds of different PP’s out there and their exponents will sell you the reasons why you should choose theirs. Here are some considerations for making that choice.

Is it fit for purpose?

Having very clear success criteria will allow you to assess whether the PP is right for you. What is it that you are trying to achieve? Using a hammer is not always the right tool for the job in hand.

Using a hammer is not always the right tool for the job
Using a hammer is not always the right tool for the job

Another consideration is whether it fits with your company policies and ethos. If you are using them for recruitment purposes, it is well to check the wider legal aspects of selection and discrimination.

What is your budget?

It is important to check what all the costs are, as the price you are given may be just for the test. You may need coaching or interpretation of the results and that can be a costly addition. There may be concessions for larger numbers if you are doing a whole team. One thing to consider is if there is a cheaper alternative to PP that would still achieve your purpose.

How valid are the results?                                                                                

If the purpose is to have objective results, then you may check how standardised is the basis for the PP. A standardised test is administered the same way every time to help reduce any test bias. You can then compare the results with anyone whose characteristics are similar to those of the sample group. (i.e. a test which is based on the general population may give you different results than one designed specifically for managers.)

It is important to ask about the reliability of the PP. You want to be sure you will have consistent results, and it won’t be significantly influenced by outside factors. For instance, if you’re feeling stressed when you take the test, the test results shouldn’t be overly different from times when you were excited or relaxed. (unless the PP is measuring stress levels) Another key aspect is can people cheat or influence them? Some people will give you the answer they think you want to hear, rather than the truth! Others have many years experience of doing the tests and know how to influence the results.

With the amount of money available in the psychometric market, there are new products being continually produced. How valid are they? Validity is perhaps the most important quality of a test. A valid test has to measure what it’s intended to measure. If a test is supposed to measure a person’s interests, then it must clearly demonstrate that it does actually measure interests, and not something else that’s just related to interests. It also should have a proven track record of doing that. Some tests provide a validity measure as part of the assessment.

There are a lot of well tried and tested PP’s, with an established brand, that have been around a long time . You can check if they are still relevant in the modern market and fit your purpose. Because a test is relatively new and less widely known, doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t the best one for you.

Will it fit your audience?

You may want to check that the PP has been tested globally, as cultural variations do exist. Many of the PP’s are developed in America, so do they align with the British culture? If you have a multi-racial workforce, it needs to be able to cope with this.

Who will be using them?

You have a very powerful tool in your hands and being made self aware of your traits can be a frightening thing for some. You would not give a child a chainsaw to use. (hopefully!) It is vitally important therefore to have properly trained people, who can sensitively feed back the results and deal with any repercussions that may arise.

“Self knowledge seems to be the major path to self improvement though not the only one. Self knowledge and self improvement are very difficult for most people. It usually needs great courage and a long struggle” Abraham Maslow

What will you do with the results?

One of the ways PP’s get a bad name is because nothing happens afterwards. You may want to consider how you will hold people accountable to achieve the results. Having invested time and money into the profiling, you don’t want it to be a case of ‘Oh that’s interesting; I never knew I was like that’ and the results are filed in the bottom draw for eternity. People may need support through the interpretation and implementation.

If you would like to discuss choosing the right psychometric profiling for you then please contact us.

My sincere thanks go to Michael Morrison, FCIPD, Head of Global Training, for his input to this article.

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