The Problem with Psychometric Assessments: Why it is time to embrace the future.

January 22, 2019 Joel Davies 0 Comments

Most large originations today use psychometric testing as an integral part of their hiring process. These tests, which usually measure cognitive ability and personality traits, are used to filter the very large number of candidates that apply for any given job. Although traditional psychometric assessments have been shown to add some value to the hiring process, they have a number of inherent flaws that make their use very problematic. These flaws are outlined in turn below.

They are built on a faulty assumption. The most commonly used psychometric assessments on the market today are built on the flawed assumption that all jobs are the same. In order for an assessment to scientifically valid it must be shown that it helps to predict performance on the actual job. However, most of the research that has validated these assessment tools has only looked at only a very narrow range of job types. Many researchers have then extrapolated from these findings, assuming that the findings apply to all other jobs. This assumption obviously violates basic common sense. The traits and abilities that are important in one job can be vastly different in another (just think of a mathematics professor compared to a radio talk show host).

They rely too much on human judgment. Many people recognise that different jobs require different traits and abilities. However, in the absence of any actual data to guide decision making, decisions must be made based on human theorising. For example, a hiring manager may assume that a high diligence score on a personality test will be associated with higher performance in a customer service role. However, the truth is that many times such assumptions turn out to be very wrong. We know from decades of psychological research that human judgment is subject to a large variety of limitations and biases. Therefore, human judgment should ideally always be supplemented with a rich source of reliable data.

They are built on overly simplistic models. Human beings are incredibly complex. Reducing the human mind to a few scores on a piece of paper is always going to be somewhat problematic. However, the overly simplistic way that these scores are calculated in traditional assessments exacerbates the problem even further, For example, traditional assessments often rely on linear models (i.e. a higher score is always better) instead of acknowledging the potential for non-linear relationships (e.g., U shaped relationships and power functions). They also fail to account for complex interactions between traits and abilities (e.g. What does it mean if a sales person has high extraversion and diligence, but low impulse control and ambiguity tolerance?). A truly effective assessment should account for different combinations of scores, rather than just presenting each score in isolation.

They produce only a very small amount of data. More information is always going to equate to better decision making – both for machines and for people. The most popular psychometric assessments capture and report only a small amount of data. This lack of data can lead to many more poor hiring decisions being made than is necessary.

They rely too much on self-report questionnaires. Well-designed self-report questionnaires can provide some value to the hiring process. However, even the best designed questionnaires can be subject to bias and distortion. If the an entire assessment tool relies exclusively on questionnaires (as most do), these biases and distortions compound and become very problematic. Thus, any hiring decisions should rely most heavily on objective measures of potential rather than subjective measures.

They are outdated technology. Traditional psychometric assessments are like the fax machine and modern hiring platforms such as Thinklytic are like email. The fax machine served its purpose for a while but it is now antiquated technology and it would be grossly inefficient to continue using it today. Likewise, the tide is turning in the world of hiring and the introduction of new technology is inevitable. Organisations can either fight technological change and keep using their current assessments or they can embrace the future and the exciting new opportunities that come with it.

The Thinklytic platform overcomes all the problems with traditional psychometric assessments. It provides an in-depth assessment of a candidate’s potential that is tailored towards a specific job role, limits the reliance on human judgment, captures 25X more data than most other assessments, accounts for non-linear relationships and complex interactions, utilises objective measures, and employs the most cutting-edge technology available today. If you’d like to find out more about how the Thinklytic platform compares to existing psychometric assessments, please contact us at