Use Online Psychological Evaluation Before You Hire
Updated January 30, 2019
Reviewer Erika Schad, LCP, CWLC
As a human resources professional, you will understand that education, work experience and references from prior employers are all important, yet hiring an applicant who's apparently thoroughly qualified sometimes just doesn't work out. The truth is that, in the modern workplace, individual brilliance often matters less than group harmony. Specifically, goals are met and projects are completed not by just a single employee, but by the team of which he or she belongs. Unfortunately, someone who interviews well and is actually a pretty nice person, often just can't mesh with the rest of his group. This kind of situation is often a result of simple differences in personality and can be avoided by using online psychological evaluation as part of the hiring process.
Every business does some kind of evaluation of a prospective employee beyond the professional certifications required for open positions. They look at the applicant's résumé, they conduct face-to-face interviews, and they contact previous employers. What businesses want to determine if an individual's past behavior, the behavior that can be expected in the role someone is applying for, their personality, their knowledge/skills and ability to think and make decisions. By taking all the information they gather, they can predict the individual's workplace performance, how they will communicate and cooperate with fellow employees, and how they will react to management and direction.
Personnel and Human Resources Departments have access to tests and/or sets of tasks to use to determine the suitability of applicants for certain jobs within the company. They can choose from a multitude of tests written by psychologists especially to measure the suitability of applicants for specific positions. These tests are also available online. The advantage of having all applicants for a particular job assessed by the same test provides equal opportunity for each applicant and eliminates favoritism. These assessment tests can be used to evaluate skills in intelligence, reading, mathematics, spelling, gross and fine motor skills, visual-motor skills, and behavior to be expected when encountering obstacles or stressful situations. The tests will reveal the strengths and weaknesses of candidates. The Department must ensure that the tests are not used to discriminate on the basis of race, sex, nationality, religion, disability, or age. The only exception to age restrictions that is legal in the U.S. is if the applicant is over 40 years old.
After choosing the best candidates for a position, an employer can then set a time for personal interviews to give the candidate an opportunity to speak to their strengths. Interviews allow openness to ask questions that, when answered, will give insight into the applicant's past experiences, school or work history, and family background to judge the suitability of the applicant.
Tests can also be used when supervisors do performance evaluations to make assessments of the employee's work performance and to make decisions as to whether or not the employee continues to be suitable for the job. If not, the supervisor can decide to give the employee time to make the adjustments to avoid dismissal on grounds.
There are a number of types of employment tests available online to be used by managers to avoid bias in choosing a candidate to hire and to determine the likelihood of a candidate is a good fit for the profile the company has for the position they wish to fill.
- Personality Tests - assess personality traits that can predict how a person will act in certain situations. The questions are written and may be repeated with other wording so as to eliminate the possibility of dishonesty or the person doing the test cannot skew their answers to put themselves in a positive light.
- Skills Tests - assess the performance in the job and the potential to learn the skills necessary for the job. These questions are designed to reveal if the candidate will be successful in the job if hired.
- Cognitive Tests - assess a person's ability to reason, their level of reading comprehension, their speed and accuracy in responding to questions, their memory, and their mathematical acuity. These tests could also include knowledge of a particular job.
- English Proficiency Tests - determine the level of proficiency a person has to write, read, and converse in English.
- Emotional Intelligence (EI) Tests - assess the person's ability to understand their own emotions and those of others. This reveals a person's ability to work well with colleagues and the public. It also reveals if a person can handle problems and frustrations in a professional way.
- Physical Exams - These exams are for pre-employment assessments to determine if a person is physically suitable health-wise and physically fit muscle-wise to perform a particular job that may be dangerous or demanding.
The Benefits of Online Psychological Evaluation
What do you do when every resumé you receive looks like it was copied from the same source, or every interviewee answers all the standard questions impeccably and numerous people are technically qualified for the open position?
Today, applying for a job is a skill quite apart from whatever knowledge is actually required to do the work involved. Human resources professionals need to adapt to this fact and realize that certain aspects of work behavior just can't be adequately assessed in an interview. How will a prospective employee deal with conflict, or with high levels of stress? Even though he or she might have been a great team player in their previous job, does this mean they will click with their new co-workers?
Current best hiring practices, for any critical position, includes a psychological and personality test to assess the psychological compatibility of a person with other individuals, general aptitude, intelligence, as well as the company culture as a whole.
How to Perform Online Psychological Evaluation
There are a number of online services that can support the hiring process, either as a specialty or as part of a wider offering. The tests and evaluations are typically performed by qualified therapist or psychologists and can cover anything from a person's ethical inhibitions to their basic personality. Such a service can also make general recommendations about team composition, such as whether a goal-oriented manager can effectively work with a process-orientated specialist.
Such suggestions and test results are not merely informed opinions but represent objectively valid data. If you strive for a hiring process that is auditable as well as efficient in matching the right person to the right role, this is exactly what you need. Hiring the wrong person can be costly both monetarily and in the impact, such a choice can have on the organization as a whole. Aside from that, placing the wrong person in the wrong position is not doing them any favors, either. These are the mistakes HR departments specifically exist to avoid, and not using every tool available to you is not the best standard of practice. Rather than following a cookie-cutter approach and simply selecting the applicant with the most advanced degree or the most years of experience, embracing other sources of information about a person now represents the best hiring practice.