About Psychometric Tests

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A psychometric test is often used as part of employment testing, both for candidates applying for new jobs and for evaluation of existing employees in departmental or role transition. Psychometric tests that gauge and report on psychological factors have become very popular among large businesses.

What psychometric tests have in common is "psychological measurement" of variables related to performance, potential and personality. (We might call these the "Three Ps" of psychometric testing). In some instances the tests are designed around a single variable, or feature results consolidated into a single variable or score, such as the single I.Q. score. Other tests may be multi-variable, measure and report, for example, relatively independent traits, such as the five "OCEAN" traits of the the "Five Factor Model", namely, "Openness", "Conscientiousness", "Extraversion", "Agreeableness" and "Neuroticism". (To take the University of Westminster, Department of Psychology-sponsored online quick Five-Factor test, click here.)

In every instance, what is claimed for the tests is that they provide an objective, reliable and valid measure of their target variables, with results that facilitate the achievement of self-understanding as well as of educational, career and counseling objectives.

A psychometric test is a standardized test that measures characteristics such as intelligence, aptitude, memory, or personality. Psychometric testing is commonplace in several industries and disciplines, including the social sciences, employment, education and business. Employers are increasingly using psychometric-based testing as a means of selecting applicants for a position. These tests are typically given at the front end of the employment cycle before interviews are given. Recent polls show that over 80% of Fortune 500 organizations within the United States use these types of tests to screen applicants.

Psychometric tests were initially used in the field of clinical psychology to determine an individual's mental state of being or aptitudes. Within the framework of recruitment and employment progression, these tests are used to analyze an individual's strength and weaknesses within the context of a particular job and corporate climate. These tests fall into two main categories; personality tests and aptitude tests. Examples of these tests include the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, General Management Admission Test (GMAT), and the Scholastic Aptitude Test.

Although there are numerous tests available to analyze personnel, psychometric testing must have certain characteristics in order to produce accurate results:

- Standardization: The test must have controlled conditions, including uniform administration protocols and environmental constancy.

- Consistency: The test must be free of inconsistencies, e.g., of language or results.

- Reliability: The exam should be free of design errors and produce consistent results in large populations and under controlled or virtually identical retest conditions.

- Validity: The test should actually measure what is supposed to measure, e.g., an I.Q. test should really measure innate intelligence rather than scholastic achievement, special training, motivation to succeed or cultural influences.

- Predictive power: The test should accurately and as precisely as possible predict performance.

- Lack of bias: The exam's language and context should not result in an unfair advantage or disadvantage to any group based on ethnicity, culture, language or gender.
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