The Top Five Psychometric Tests Used in Recruitment

The Top Five Psychometric Tests Used in Recruitment 

June 9, 2017

Get savvy for your next career jump by understanding the types of psychometric testing used by over 80 per cent of Fortune 500 companies in the USA and over 75 per cent of the Times Top 100 companies in the UK.

By Shuchita Dua Dullu

Today, universities and colleges spend a lot of time training students on how to master the art of a face-to-face interview, but relying on interview technique as the only source of assessing candidates applying for a job, is not a great idea. An interview process can be fairly subjective and although employers will normally assess skills and experience fairly accurately, much can still be left to gut instinct regarding aligned values. This is where the role and objectivity of psychometric testing comes in.

The word psychometric basically refers to the measurement of the mind. Psychometric testing allows the company to gather a comprehensive understanding of an individual’s personality and abilities. Employers who choose to use psychometric testing during the recruitment process gain a better overall evaluation of the candidate and hopefully in the process secure the best fit for the role.

The reason why psychometric tests are used for recruitment and selection purposes is that the results have been statistically correlated with high job performance. Psychometric testing is now used by over 80 per cent of the Fortune 500 companies in the USA and by over 75 per cent of the Times Top 100 companies in the UK. Information technology companies, management consultancies, local authorities, financial institutions, the civil service, police forces, fire services and the armed forces all make extensive use of psychometric testing.

Countries like India too are slowly but hesitantly adopting the use of psychometric tools. A 2016 survey estimated that 18 per cent of companies use psychometric testing in their hiring process, a percentage that is growing at the rate of 10-15 per cent annually. While some are using psychometric analysis to gauge the P-E fit, many are using it to identify candidates with leadership potentials at the time of promotions.

A psychometric test aims to provide measurable, objective data that can provide a better all-round view of a candidate’s suitability. It provides a fair and accurate way of assessing a candidate. Typically, a psychometric test will never be used in isolation, but as one component of a wider, integrated evaluation strategy. Psychometric testing when used as a way of screening candidates helps identify a smaller pool of suitable applicants who have the potential to perform well at the interview stage.

Traditionally, psychometric tests were pen and paper tests, multiple choice questionnaires, however with digitalisation of almost everything, they’re too moving into a digital realm. This means they can be quick and easy to integrate into any stage of the recruitment process, reducing the workload of the Human Resource professionals who use them.

Psychometric tests can measure a number of attributes including intelligence, critical reasoning, motivation and personality profile. As an indicator of your personality, preferences and abilities, psychometric tests can help prospective employers find the best match of individual to occupation and working environment. The personality tests are often done using questionnaires while ability is measured with tests like logical reasoning, numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, mechanical reasoning, abstract reasoning and others. If used accurately, these tests can prove useful in providing the management guidance on career progression for existing employees.

Here’s a list of top 5 psychometric tests that companies across the globe make use of in their selection and recruitment process.

Personality Profiling 

An individual’s personality is relatively consistent across context. Employers use personality assessments to compare potential employees’ scores against a given job’s requirements to see if there’s a match. And while there are no absolute “right” or “wrong” answers on a personality test, the individual’s replies can suggest whether they have the attributes that line up with what a company is looking for in a candidate.

Most companies use personality profiling as the first step to the recruitment process however it may also be carried out after the analysis of specific abilities. Often in companies like Hewlett Packard and Microsoft questions on a personality test are asked during telephonic interviews and are administered verbally. The “Competency Tests” that most big companies like Procter & Gamble and KPMG conduct as a part of their recruitment process are nothing but personality tests.

While some companies make personality testing as a part of their online assessment form, other like McDonald’s ask the candidates to either fill the form on the spot or take home to be returned on completion. Some of the popular personality tests used by companies across the globe are

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

The MBTI is a test that aims to identify where an individual falls on four different dichotomies—sensing or intuition, introversion or extroversion, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving and comes up with 16 different personality types labelled by combination of initials. Around 80 per cent of new hires at Fortune 500 companies have been administered the MBTI in the past decade, and countless other companies use it as part of the actual employee selection process.

Essentially, this assessment tool is designed to identify an individual’s innate preferences. And although it’s an interesting tool for self-discovery, it hasn’t been proven to be valid for job selection. Researches show that HR departments who choose employees based on the results received on MBTI could miss out on actual talent.  Sadly, due to its easy availability, small companies who cannot hire professional assistance or who are just venturing into the domain of psychometric testing continue to make use of MBTI to screen out employees.

Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire

Popularly known as 16PF it was devised in 1949 by psychologist Raymond Cattell, who identified 16 traits that we all possess in varying degrees, like warmth and tension. The 170 questions on the test differ from those on most other personality assessments for they seek to enquire how an individual might react to a certain situation on the job, rather than describe one’s overall personality in some way.

Whether an individual can be counted on to finish the tasks or has the ability to handle high-stress situations, 16PF can give you a good idea. It’s a terrific instrument for hiring and employee development due to its focus on practical situations rather than general personality traits.


DISC is another personality assessment tool that is gaining fast popularity amongst the human resource professionals. DISC as a behaviour assessment tool was developed by Industrial psychologist Walter Vernon Clarke and is based on the theory of psychologist William Moulton Marston.

As an assessment tool it focuses on identifying four different behavioural traits: dominance, inducement, submission and compliance. Based on the behaviour traits the individuals may be categorised as either task-oriented or people-oriented.

Some companies use the DISC assessment as a way to screen potential employees, with the thought that a certain personality type would be better or worse in certain jobs or positions. However this is not what the DISC assessment was initially designed for. The best use of DISC is to learn more about oneself, others and how to deal with situations where interpersonal relationships are involved.

Some more specific versions of the DISC assessment helps understand how one person would likely react in a specific team, management or leadership situation, given her or his DISC style. DISC assessment has also been used to determine leadership skills and the course of action that an individual is likely to take when dealing with problems as a leader.

Verbal Reasoning Assessment

Verbal Reasoning is one of the most frequently used “ability” test by companies today to measure a candidate’s suitability and potential. A Verbal Reasoning test is used to assess an individual’s understanding and comprehension skills.

There are several types of Verbal Reasoning tests available in the market. The easier Verbal Reasoning test, such as sentence completion and analogies, measure an individual’s ability to use the English language in the workplace. The more complex and difficult verbal reasoning tests, most frequently are used to assess graduates, professionals and managers. A typical Verbal Reasoning test will present a short passage of text and the respondent will be required to answer true, false or cannot say. Rather than attempting to measure simple fluency or vocabulary recognition, such tests aim at evaluating an individual’s ability to think constructively, accurately draw logical conclusions, produce written reports, and convey information to others in a clear and simple manner.

The result of a Verbal Reasoning test assists employers to discover the extent to which an individual can identify critical business-related issues and logically draw conclusions from business-related reading material such as company manuals and reports. The ability to produce clearly written organisational reports and documents and articulate business-related issues in a clear and simple manner to colleagues, managers and customers is also assessed through a Verbal Reasoning test.

Companies like Raytheon, Capital One Financial, 3M, UBS, Hewlett Packard and Chevron are known to use Verbal Reasoning tests provided by organisations like SHL, Onetest, Saville, Kenexa and GMAT, as a part of their recruitment and selection process.

Numerical Reasoning Assessment

The Numerical Reasoning test measures an individual’s ability to interpret, analyse and draw logical conclusions based on numerical data presented in graphs and tables. The Numerical Reasoning test that most companies use are not designed to measure an individual’s mathematical ability but are designed to assess the ability to use numerical data as a tool to make reasoned decisions and solve problems.

Employers use the result of the Numerical Reasoning test to learn the extent to which an individual is capable of efficiently and effectively identifying critical business-related issues and logically draw conclusions from numerical data such as performance figures, financial results and analysis reports.

The numerical assessment tools test the candidates on statistics, ratios, percentages, and graph interpretation. Numerical data generated by organisational systems or communicated by key stakeholders are a crucial information source to drive results, monitor progress and achieve business goals. In the numerical reasoning test, the individual is given tables and graphs describing different business-related situations. Each business situation is followed by a number of questions (between two and five) relating to the information presented. Each question has between four and five answers. The respondent is to decide for each question which is the correct answer based solely on the numerical information present. The numerical reasoning test is timed and although different tests may have different time limits, one should expect to be given approximately 50– 60 seconds per question.

Companies like Ford Motor and JP Morgan’s Numerical Assessment tests contain 20 questions that are timed for duration of 20 minutes and a required to be solved without the use of calculator. An online Numerical Reasoning test, supplied by SHL, one of the biggest online testing companies around, is the final and the main psychometric test conducted by ExxonMobil during their recruitment process.

Situational Judgement Test

Situational Judgement test (SJT) is a commonly used psychometric test that measures a candidate’s suitability based on their responses to work related scenarios. These tests are designed to assess an individual’s ability to use effective judgement in solving problems in work-related situations.

A Situational Judgement test assesses the way an individual thinks in the face of difficult often critical situations. This analysis gives the companies a fair idea about what kind of employee the person will be and whether or not the applicant has the potential to be a future leader. Situational judgment tests are often tailored to each function such as sales, customer service and IT; and job level such as professional, manager or team leader.

A typical Situational Judgment test has around 16 to 20 short work-related scenarios. Each work scenario presents with it 4 to 8 possible responses or actions that an individual can take. The respondent is required to rate each response or action based on its effectiveness on a scale from strongly undesirable to strongly desirable.  Unlike other ability tests, most Situational Judgment tests are not time based. EON, the world’s largest supplier of electricity utility requires the candidates shortlisted from applications to take an online Situational Judgement Test by SHL.

Other companies that are make effective use of this test are KPMG, Cancer Research UK and Bank of America.

Logical Reasoning Assessment

Logical Reasoning test assesses an individual’s inductive and deductive reasoning abilities. Along with an individual’s ability to utilize critical thinking skills to draw conclusions and recognize important facts.

This test features non-verbal content. A candidate is required to interpret and manipulate numerical or pictorial patterns.  The Verbal Logic test takes the form of an argument- a conclusion based on evidence.

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These tests are typically designed to test the individual’s ability to deconstruct and manipulate arguments. Sometimes Logical Reasoning tests are given more specific names such as ‘Inductive Reasoning’ or ‘Abstract Reasoning’ to reflect a more targeted skillset. Citigroup’s Logical Reasoning test, a non- verbal, pictorial test has the reputation of being especially difficult and is only taken by applications into technology, operations and HR job functions.

These tests are also used during the application process by professional services and consulting firms. Companies like Ernst and Young, Morgan Stanley, Unilever, Procter & Gamble are amongst those who make use of a Logical Reasoning test in their recruitment and selection process. These tests are often supplied by external suppliers such as SHL, Kenexa, Pearson- Watson Glaser, Human Systems Technology etc.

Even though psychometric tests used for recruitment and selection purposes have been statistically correlated with high job performance, there is a lot debate over the value of psychometric testing in organisational circuit. Those who use it believe that it can give a more objective overview of a candidate’s character, strengths, weaknesses and working style. Those who don’t, advocate the old school method of person-to-person interaction over using computerised or paper pencil tests.

The verdict- psychometric tests are definitely crucial for the success of any recruitment process and are effective in making the process of recruitment sharper and smoother as long as they are never used or relied on in isolation. They are effective tools that assist and not drive the process of recruitment in any organisation.

When results from psychometric tools are analysed and interpreted by those trained in psychometric analysis, they prove to be a valuable asset that assists the interview technique and the results are statically in favour of any organisation which uses them.


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