Pre-Employment Assessment Tests: Comparing Psychometric, Personality and Soft Skills

published by
Kevin Victor
March 17, 2023
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Pre-Employment Assessment Tests: Comparing Psychometric, Personality and Soft Skills

During the recruitment process, candidates may be asked to complete various types of pre-employment assessment tests, such as psychometric, personality, and/or soft skills tests. Since each one is different, hiring teams may be wondering why they should use one type of test or another in their recruiting process.

Let’s take a deep dive into different types of hiring tests in the recruiting process, the pros and cons of each, and which ones are most effective.

Psychometric Tests

Hiring teams use psychometric tests to help match candidates’ personality traits to a particular role. For example, a psychometric test would want to assess an individual’s behavioral style to understand if it is suitable for a role at a given organization. 

Psychometric tests can be defined as:

“a standard and scientific method used to measure individuals' mental capabilities and behavioral style. (…) They identify the extent to which candidates' personality and cognitive abilities match those required to perform the role.”

While the methodology behind psychometric tests is standardized, there isn’t just one type of test. In fact, there are six different types of psychometric tests used within hiring, including:

  • Numerical reasoning (interpreting data)
  • Verbal reasoning (decision making)
  • Inductive reasoning (trend/pattern identification)
  • Diagrammatical reasoning (logical understanding from diagrams)
  • Logical reasoning (deductive reasoning and decision making)
  • Error checking (identifying errors)

Pre employment assessment test - psychometric

Psychometric tests may be able to detect aspects of personality that wouldn’t otherwise be visible to a hiring manager even through an interview process. This is because individuals may feel more comfortable answering questions in a private test setting rather than face-to-face.

Beyond recruiting and assessing candidates, HR professionals can use psychometric tests for career guidance and development. Again, by matching a person’s abilities, aptitude, behavioral style and more to available roles or fields, psychometric tests can help HR leaders pair existing employees or individuals with the best-fit role for them.

There are pros and cons to every type of test and assessment in the recruitment process. Psychometric testing has a lot of great selling points and also some serious drawbacks. The upside and downside of psychometric testing is as follows:

Accuracy and fairness are essential to the hiring process, so proceed carefully when considering psychometric tests as a way of evaluating candidates.

Pre Employment Assessment Tests: When to Measure Psychometrics

Psychometric tests are most appropriate for screening candidates, and for beyond the hiring process for employee development.

Personality Tests

Hiring teams don’t typically use personality tests during hiring processes as there really is no right answer to any of the questions included in these types of tests. Personality tests are most often in the form of questionnaires that evaluate an individual’s traits in relation to others. From this perspective, personality tests can be important personal discovery and development tools from employees.

While there is no pass/fail scoring, evaluation “involves the administration, scoring, and interpretation of empirically supported measures of personality traits and styles.” The exact scoring method of each personality test will differ and there are many to choose from. Some popular personality tests in the workplace include:

  • The Myers Briggs Type Indicator
  • Eysenck Personality Test
  • Hogan Personality Inventory
  • Keirsey Temperament Sorter
  • Emotional Intelligence Test
  • True Colors

Since these tests vary greatly, the pros and cons are not uniform across all of them. Generally, the benefits of personality tests in the workplace are as follows:

  • Create personalized training programs for new and existing employees
  • Identify the best mentors within a company to match a new employee with
  • Support manager’s performance management 
  • Support personal development, self awareness and goal setting in the workplace

The cons of personality tests are also a reality, and further highlight why personality tests are not suitable during the recruitment process. The drawbacks of personality tests include:

  • The results of a personality test may vary depending on a person’s emotional state
  • A personality test doesn’t really reflect how a person would behave in a job setting
  • These tests can oversimplify individuals
  • Personality tests don’t account for cultural differences or language barriers
  • If employees believe their personality tests will be viewed by management they won’t answer as honestly as they would if the results were only for themselves

Personality testing should not be used in performance evaluations or during the hiring process. These are better used as a tool for self-awareness, as well as personal and professional development.

Pre Employment Assessment Tests: When to Measure Personality

Personality tests are most appropriate passed the hiring process for employee development.

Soft Skill Testing

Evaluating soft skills is much different than psychometric or personality testing and has proven to be very valuable to hiring teams. That said, there are some similarities across different methods. Like psychometric tests, soft skill testing can demonstrate a candidate’s suitability for a role (it can actually do much more as well, like revealing if the person has the right combination of soft skills to succeed). Like personality testing, soft skills tests do not have a correct answer to any of the questions; however, soft skill testing is very suitable for the hiring process. Unlike both psychometric and personality tests, soft skill testing has been proven to reduce bad hire rate of only .01%.

Here’s why it’s so effective. By measuring what and how the candidate responds to different scenarios, various soft skills are revealed such as active listening, building rapport, empathy, collaboration, describing benefits, paraphrasing and problem solving for example. These types of traits are hard to measure in any other form of evaluation, even interviews, and yet are the best indicators of how a candidate will perform on the job.

There are many different soft skills that can be measured but not all of them are required to be successful in every position. As we recently defined, “soft skills are the communication techniques that define how candidates relate to other people like customers or teammates.” For roles like sales, customer service or retail for example, unique sets of skills become essential for success. Hiring teams who need to hire for these types of roles at scale can certainly benefit from soft skill testing techniques and technologies.

If you haven’t already concluded, soft skill testing is the most appropriate type of pre-employment assessment test for the hiring process. There are many benefits to this type of evaluation as mentioned above and below: 

  • Can be customized to match the exact soft skills needed for a particular job
  • Saves time and money by improving hiring metrics like bad hire rate
  • Can be used to reduce or eliminate interviews from the hiring process
  • Helps to eliminate bias in candidate selection
  • Gives candidates a sample of the job they will eventually perform

Unlike other forms of pre-employment assessment tests, there are no drawbacks to measuring soft skills. Hiring teams can feel more comfortable with the hiring decisions they make by using this method.

Pre-Employment Assessment Tests: When to Measure Soft Skills

Soft skills tests are most appropriate for all early stages of the hiring process.

Image Credits

Feature Image: Unsplash/Scott Graham

All screenshots taken by author, March 2023.

Image 1: Screenshot via Wikijob

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