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Is it time for Asia to make better use of psychometric tests?

Marc Baloch, Head of Global Insurance at Harvey Nash

Psychometric tests have been around for many years as standard practice, providing a scientific method to measure an individual's behavioural and cognitive styles. Used in combination with aptitude tests, they provide an additional tool to enable  organisations to add sound reasoning to the often gut decision, of whether to hire or not! Today, psychometric studies have evolved to become increasingly sophisticated, as employers look to justify hiring decisions and fully map in-house talent capabilities. 

Psychometric testing is used to assess an individual's motivation, personality, leadership, analytical capacity and behaviour under stress, rather than relying solely on qualifications, experience and references.  This type of cognitive testing should always be completed in conjunction with traditional face-to-face interviews and assessment in order to gain a more comprehensive picture of the candidate.

Psychometric testing can be particularly valuable in markets such as Asia, where companies are often spread across culturally diverse markets, requiring leaders to quickly adapt and manage a variety of different working styles. When it comes to developing an effective multicultural and team-centric environment, psychometric testing is an essential tool in a company's arsenal for talent management. 

Uses for psychometric testing

Hiring talent - assessing capabilities and cultural fit
Managing existing talent - career development
Auditing team capabilities - covering fundamentals such as team dynamics, meeting culture, decision climate and adherence to decisions and strategic vs. operative focus.  Team audits serve to identify strengths and weaknesses of functional groups, highlighting talent gaps.  These studies can be implemented to assess talent at any level, from mid-level to the board. 

Even at graduate level, psychometric testing can identify core drivers in individuals, for example they can define "hunter" personality traits - those with the spirit to drive new ideas and win new business, and "farmers" - those who typically have the personality to look after their customer base and nurture teams. Psychometric tests can identify if the prospective talent has the edge over others in the running. Nowadays psychometric assessments are bespoke and can be tailored around specific hiring needs, from entry to managerial and executive roles.

At the senior executive level, psychometric studies can be used to identify underlying motivations, behaviours in crisis mode, management style and cultural fit within the broader executive team or board. 

When is assessment valuable?

Psychometric testing can prove to be a useful tool for organisations in the following circumstances:

Mergers and acquisitions - to ensure the best conceivable leaders are part of the process
Strategic and organisational change e.g. new leadership - to ensure that managers live up to new demands
Management planning e.g. succession planning - to ensure a supply of leaders with the right qualities and competence

Psychometric testing during the hiring process

Although psychometric testing provides in-depth insights into the potential of a candidate, when run in conjunction with face-to-face interviews the findings can prove to be particularly powerful.  This is particularly pertinent for regions such as Asia, where business practices and cultural norms tend to be vastly different across markets. With this in mind, these types of tests can be a useful way to benchmark candidates and make sure they are suitable for a particular role, assessing the individual's current skill-set, comparing it to what is required for the role, in addition to their ability to adjust to the cultural factors they will face. 

The value of an effective interview process cannot be overstated, enabling employers to assess, in person, that the candidate fits their corporate culture and understands the business. By combining these two techniques, interviewing and assessment, businesses in Asia can identify the most suitable candidates for a role and be assured of making sound decisions.  

Psychometric testing is used by many of the leading firms in Asia, initially purely for executive hiring, but now companies are seeing the value of adopting psychometric testing  for all hiring decisions. Many smaller companies have not yet tapped into the benefit of introducing these methods into their hiring and talent management processes and rely in most cases on gut feeling and reference checks,.  

For more information on the value of psychometric testing and how your company can best use assessment to improve hiring decisions and talent management processes, please don't hesitate to contact me.