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Looking beyond the visible

Work experience and managerial ability are fine, but prospective employers are keen to know whether a candidate suits the job. Devraj Uchil tells us more. Read on...
By Devraj Uchil | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON FEB 20, 2008 11:06 PM IST

“Is he the right candidate for the job?” This is a critical question that employers ask in relation to the right fit for the job, which goes beyond a good curriculum vitae and maybe even work experience. Performance on the job transcends what can be put on paper. “What a CV can’t say, a person’s behaviour does,” says R Suresh, managing director, Stanton Chase.

Today, that’s where psychometric testing is gaining importance. “Psychometric analysis gives us insight into the intelligence, and the mental and verbal reasoning of the candidate we have finalised upon. They helps us find extreme behaviour in a candidate, which otherwise might not be visible,” he expands. Stanton Chase is involved in senior level appointments and uses psychometric tools such as Caliper and SHL to evaluate its candidates.

About 60 per cent of mid-sized companies use such tools to select the right employee. “Ma Foi has been conducting programmes to create awareness on 16PF, a psychometric analysis tool, since the last four years,” says V Krithika, business head, assessment practice. While 16PF is a tool useful for the entire spectrum of talent management and even internal promotions, the FYRO-B is often used to understand interpersonal effectiveness at work. Beldin is another such tool. The best thing about these tools is that they give an unbiased perspective about the candidate.

Although psychometric tests are good to assess personality, behavioural traits and aptitude, it can also be used to decide on a mid-career change.

“The history of psychometric tests dates back to World War II, where recruitment in the armed forces was done on the basis of these tests,” says James K. Agarwal, consulting director & head, BTI Consultants. The weightage given to these tests was probably more than any other recruitment tool such as group interviews or individual interviews. Organisations in India have been using psychometric tests as the first line of screening in recruitment for a number of years. Of late, international specialist companies offering psychometric testing and analysis have set shop in India.

“In this country, application of psychometric tools are mostly found in mid-sized and large companies that primarily use them for employee development, deployment, career growth, progression and selection,” says Priti Rajora, general manager, talent acquisition, Wipro. “At Wipro, we use a psychometric tool called PAPI (Personality and Preference Inventory) for hiring strategic business leaders,” she says.

Psychometric testing in the corporate world is not really popular for volume hiring. However, in the last couple of years, India has seen high growth in the services industry where requirement for people to work in a team, spanning across multiple cultures and geographies has become the need of the hour. Use of psychometric tools helps here, says Rajora.

“With international managers being hired in India, an employer from the US or UK want its prospective employees to undergo these tests so that they know the behaviour of the people they are hiring,” says Suresh.

One of the reasons could be their structured way of assessing potential talent through scientific tools, whereas in India, although recruitment tools such as psychometric tests and competency-based interviewing are prevalent, ‘gut feel’ is also used and is considered to be an art by recruiters.

“The challenge in psychometric analysis is the correct interpretation. Psychometric tests also throw up a list of questions that should be posed to a candidate in the next round and hence should be used as a first-line screening process,” says Agarwal.

According to a research study published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, an accuracy of .40 can be obtained by using a psychometric tool, which can be increased by combining it with ability tests and structured interviews. The analysis can be more objective if the role description is clear and accurate.

“In our experience, this has primarily given a baseline for us to understand, infer and conclude,” Rajora point out. An observation that finds agreement with the others.

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