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  The world of psychometric testing: a report  
Ms. Kanika Wahi, Ms. Ambrien Amhed & Dr. M.Venkatesan
Psychological Assessment Centre for Enhancement (PACE)
Psychometric tests have been used since the early part of the 20th century and though they were originally developed for use in educational psychology, they have become one of the standard tools for the organizations in the process of recruitment and selection. According to the statistics, over 80% of the Fortune 500 companies in the USA and by over 75% of the Times Top 100 companies in the UK make use of psychometric testing. In India, however, they are still in the incubatory stage. Keeping this in mind an effort has been made to provide the basic information on psychometric tests and its utility in business.

What is psychometric testing?
Psychometric tests are a way of assessing a person’s ability or personality in a measured and structured way. They are used to measure the individual differences such as ability, aptitude, interests, personality and other aspects. There are many different types available in the market measuring various facets of an individual’s life.

Psychometric tests are also used by employers in all sub-…… if HR in order to help in identifying the right mixes of abilities and personal qualities of their employees.

Why has psychometric testing become so popular with organizations?
Psychometric tests are developed especially to reduce the problems encountered by employees and managers of organizations. Such as, one of the biggest problems employers face today is the quality of the staff they hire. The reason is easy to understand; interview doesn’t necessarily give the right picture about the candidate. Interviewee’s generally come prepared for certain questions and in the short time available it is difficult to judge a candidate’s capabilities. A bad hiring decision can be costly and time consuming.

Psychometric assessments play an important role by being consistent and impartial and they can enhance the objectivity of the selection process. The reliability and validity of the tests are well established in terms of questions proposed, time limit and the unambiguous instructions. This takes care of placing the candidates on a common platform, making the assessment fair and objective. It helps companies in improving the chances of appointing productive, high performing staff. By reducing selection errors, organizations can reduce staff turnover, training costs, lost opportunities and stress to ndividuals.

Organizations such as UB Group, Reliance, Hindustan Motors, Tata Group, ITC, bajaj group, i-flex Solutions, Bharti, Touchtel, Sanmar and Cisco etc. have utilized psychometric tests to assess candidates and select the right employee.

What are the main areas of psychometric testing in organizations?
Psychometric Testing can be classified into 3 broad categories where organizations are concerned

Aptitude or Ability Tests
Aptitude or ability tests provide information on a person’s ability to perform certain tasks and their potential to learn
and understand new information and tasks. They are used by organizations and cover skills such as:
  • Numerical reasoning
  • Verbal reasoning
  • Language usage
  • Abstract, mechanical or spatial reasoning
  • Information checking
Work style Inventories

Work style questionnaires or inventories are concerned with how individuals typically behave, such as, the way a person relates to others or the way he/she approaches and solves problems. They generally explore personality characteristics relevant to the world of work.
  • Work style questionnaires look at factors such as:
  • Interests - how much do one likes carrying out various types of activities at work.
  • Motivations - look at the energy with which one approaches his work, and the different conditions which
  • increase or decrease his motivation.
  • Interpersonal style, conflict style, leadership style
  • Patterns of coping with stress
  • Work values, what factors make work worthwhile for an individual
  • How does one interpret his own and others emotions and behaviors
Personality tests are used to determine how an individual is likely to behave under various conditions. They measure various aspects of personality including motives, interests, values and attitudes. There can be certain drivers that are important - positively or negatively - in a particular job.

Personality tests can be divided in 2 broad categories:
  • Self-report inventories individual is asked to answer series of questions about his characteristic behavior
  • Projective tests such as TAT and Rorschach take an indirect approach towards personality assessment by asking individual to respond to vague and ambiguous stimuli in a way that may reveal his feelings, needs and personality traits, more used in clinical settings.
There are currently well over 2,500 personality questionnaires on the market and each year few more are added by various companies.

Which personality profiling tools are most commonly in industries?
Self report inventories are used frequently in the organizations as a way to assess personality. Some of the tests that enjoy pularity with Indian corporate are MBTI, 16PF, Thomas PPA, NEO-PI, Hogan Personality Assessment and PAPI.

Which among them is the best to assess personality?
All these tests are recognized internationally as good standards for personality assessment, and can be used in rganizational set ups effectively.

Can anyone administer them?
The very nature of Psychometric Assessments requires experienced and trained professionals to undertake the administration and interpretation of the tests. There are certain nuances in administrating the tests and explaining the results for which prior training is necessary. Thus it is advisable to use psychologists or else practitioners who have considerable work experience in the area of testing.

Some national organizations in collaboration with international agencies provide assessment and training services in the bove mentioned tests.

What is the accuracy of these tools?
They are usually designed by psychologists and have stringent criteria’s for reliability and validity. In other words, if a test is statistically accurate and measures what it is supposed to measure in a fair and consistent manner across all individuals, it would be a good psychometric test. Test manuals should provide information on all the above properties. If the tool is fulfills the reliability criteria and is administered properly then they tend to be very accurate and provide the right information and as such about 25 % of the selection process can be attributed to them.

What are the limitations of psychometric tests?
Is it important to remember that these are tools and they are not infallible, they have their limitations as well, some of those are:
  • The tests can be vulnerable to misinterpretation as well as over-interpretation if they are in the hands of untrained professionals. For this reason, it is important that professional training is given to individuals who use these tests.
  • They cost time and money and some organizations prefer not to make the extra effort.
  • Tests results may not always be accurate, people sometimes lie and give sociable acceptable answers or they may be nervous or not understand the questions properly etc. Most tests take this into account and have inbuilt counters but they are not infallible.
  • Psychological tests measure very specific areas, so they may not be suitable for all jobs.
What are the steps to take when an organization wants to include psychometric assessment in their selection and recruitment process?
For effective results the organization can to follow some basic steps and they are:
  • Categorize the areas in which one wants psychometric assessment
  • Define clearly the job aspects for which one needs testing
  • Purpose of testing e.g. whether for selection or for development etc.
  • Have a basic understanding of psychometrics and the areas you want measured
  • Work with a psychometrician to find the best tool available.
  • Understand clearly what the results will represent
These basic steps should definitely be followed before selecting any psychometric tools as they will help the companies gain valuable information.

How much would it cost an organization to get psychological profiling done for its candidates?
The cost factor depends upon a lot of things, like which tests one uses, how many tests one requires etc. so it tends to vary but on an approximate it can cost anything between Rs. 500-2500 per test, per candidate.

The world of psychometric is large and it is indeed difficult to cover all the aspects in one article, but we hope you got a glimpse into this area and have understood it better. We hope to come up with a series of articles that cover this area in depth. It is our endeavor to provide all the relevant information pertaining to this area and help the field of psychometric testing gain its relevant position among the Indian industry.