Eighty percent of US Fortune 500 companies and over 75% of the Times Top 100 companies in the UK use psychometric tests. Should you use them too?

Psychometric tests can, for example, fall into one of two categories: ability (what can you do?) or personality (what are you like?). Like most everything else nowadays, they have moved from paper and pencil to the digital world and can be most commonly found in the form of online tests.

Consider the user experience when choosing candidate assessment methods. Online psychometric tests no longer have to be painful.

Consider the user experience when choosing candidate assessment methods. Online psychometric tests no longer have to be painful.

Ability tests

Ability tests, also known as cognitive tests, assess your skills. They take many forms, but some of the most popular are: 

  • Verbal Reasoning Tests
    These are usually in the form of sentence completion and reading comprehension to test the candidate’s fluency in the specified language, as well as the ability to logically draw conclusions and to summarize information.
  • Logical Reasoning and Abstract Reasoning Tests
    Candidates are presented with a series of pictures or numbers. From these, the user should identify patterns, testing their problem-solving abilities.
  • Numerical Reasoning Tests
    Candidates are asked to read and analyze data from graphs and tables. These results imply the individual’s capability to draw conclusions from numerical data such as financial results or performance numbers.

Personality tests

Many personality tests exist but most are centered around the Big Five personality traits. Other personality tests relate specifically to the workplace.

  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
    Used by 89% of US Fortune 100 companies and around 80% of Fortune 500 companies, this personality test classifies people in four dimensions (Extraversion-Introversion, Sensing-Intuition, Thinking-Feeling, and Judging-Perceiving), resulting in 16 distinct personality types.
    Although it is so widely used during employee screening, the MBTI has not demonstrated proper validity nor reliability, and many researchers do not consider it appropriate for recruitment use. Check out MBTI online tests here.
  • The DISC Behavioral Profile Technically, this test measures behavior, and not personality. Psychologist William Moulton Marston (who also created the character Wonder Woman!) is accredited for this theory of human behavior based on four personality traits (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness).
    Because Marson did not protect his intellectual property, there are dozens of DISC tests available on the market, all with different formulas and levels of quality. Your DISC score can also change after significant life events. It’s important to remember that DISC assesses behavior, so it can’t predict job skills, but it might help predict how a candidate will interact with others. Check out the DISC behavioral profile here.
  • The Big Five (aka OCEAN model).
    This model was created on the theory that most personality traits can be classified into the following five domains: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Emotional Stability (Neuroticism). Compared to DISC or MBTI, the concept has widely proven to have good reliability and validity.

There is a risk that candidates can “game” these online psychometric tests by answering questions in a way that they believe the company wants them to answer. Therefore, it is important to consider multiple ways to assess personality, such as through external raters, which analyzes personality traits from pre-recorded candidate videos. 

In this way, candidates do not have the option to outsmart the test; instead, artificial intelligence helps reveal personality traits and communication skills objectively.

Video assessment

Assessments made on recorded candidate videos are cost and time effective. Retorio provides an artificial intelligence tool which uses Big Five criteria, facial expression recognition (FER), language, and voice analysis, gesture analysis, and a large database of information to analyze personality traits through pre-recorded candidate interview videos. Not only is this convenient for recruiters who don’t have to take the time to schedule candidate interviews, but it’s also convenient for candidates because they can avoid the extra “step” of having to fill out a personality test. 

Another benefit is that candidates can relax in the “non-live” interview environment which usually gives them a short preparation time for each question and lets them record answers multiple times. When stress is reduced, better quality answers are produced. It also brings benefits to introverts who may not do as well in a live interview setting.

Video is increasingly being used, especially by Millennials and Gen Xers who are gradually entering the job market. Using a medium that they are comfortable with and will likely use in the workplace makes them at ease and also forecasts how well they can communicate on video; using this technology in the hiring process may even give them a good lasting impression about your company as forward-thinking and increase application rates. 

This brings us to our last points… 

  1. When deciding on an online psychometric test for recruitment purposes, it is important to think about the user experience. If a test is too cumbersome, top candidates who have multiple job options may get impatient and drop out of the recruitment process. The assessment phase should not be a huge obstacle which top candidates want to bypass.
  2. Combining self-ratings with external ratings (e.g., through AI-video assessments) enhances the quality of the candidate assessment and delivers helpful insights about future performance indicators. In fact, external ratings alone outperform self-ratings in predicting how successful a candidate will be in his future role




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Winterhalter, Benjamin. “ISTJ? ENFP? Careers hinge on a dubious personality test.” Boston Globe, 31 Aug 2014,  https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/08/30/istj-enfp-careers-hinge-dubious-personality-test/8ptUGXhu6DndFdjCngcxSN/story.html.

Garner, Dwight. “Her Past Unchained.” New York Times, 23 Oct 2014,  https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/24/books/the-secret-history-of-wonder-woman-by-jill-lepore.html.

“Independent studies bust myths about game-based assessments.” Revelian, https://www.revelian.com/employer/busting-myths-game-based-assessments/.

Oh, I. S., Wang, G., & Mount, M. K. (2011). Validity of observer ratings of the five-factor model of personality traits: a meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(4), 762-773.

Stephan, Michael, Brown, David and Erickson, Robin. “Talent acquisition: Enter the cognitive recruiter.” Deloitte Insights, 28 Feb 2017, https://www2.deloitte.com/insights/us/en/focus/human-capital-trends/2017/predictive-hiring-talent-acquisition.html.

van Esch, P., Black, J. S., & Ferolie, J. (2019). Marketing AI recruitment: The next phase in job application and selection. Computers in Human Behavior, 90, 215-222.


Blog Team

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