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8 reasons not to use psychological tests when recruiting

Is it worth using psychological tests in personnel selection – personal opinion

In my opinion, before starting his career in personnel management for several years working as a psychologist and even specializing in the use of psychodiagnostic techniques for professional selection, is not worth it.

I respect those who think differently, to substantiate my point of view, I will list the reasons why I think so. I will add that it is for the reasons listed below that I have long abandoned the use of tests, although my qualifications quite allow me to professionally use psychodiagnostic tools.

Test results do not significantly affect hiring decisions

As a rule, in most cases, the decision to hire an employee is made taking into account whether he has the professional competencies necessary to perform the work, to the assessment of which psychological tests have nothing to do.

You will judge the quality of a programmer’s work by the sample of the code, and a well-written press release by a PR manager will force you to close your eyes to low levels of verbal intelligence in a psychological test.

If an employee does not rush to colleagues and clients and successfully copes with the work, then the features of his personality, character, and intellect are his own business, which does not concern the employer, and should not be of interest to the latter.

Of course, you can convince yourself that a developer with an IQ below 100 is not able to write good code, and a sales manager with low verbal intelligence will not find the right words in negotiations, but this would be a delusion – a direct causal relationship between the results of psychological tests and work results have not been established even by psychologists.

Agree, it makes no sense to waste time on obtaining information, the value of which is not obvious when deciding to hire an employee.

Tests provide little information for hiring decisions

The main postulate of psychodiagnostics in the selection of personnel: based on the test results it is impossible to predict whether a person will be successful in any field of activity.

It can be assumed that he may have difficulties in some situations related to certain areas of activity, but it is impossible to say that this is really so based on tests alone.

Example: if the applicant has been a successful sales manager for 10 years, and according to the test you see that you are facing an extremely insecure and stressful person when communicating with other people, then you will hardly be guided by the test data when deciding whether to hire.

If you do, it will be a mistake – not everything can be explained by the test results, just as it is impossible to say that a person who, according to the test, should have difficulties in communicating with people, will experience them in real life.

Human compensatory mechanisms are not fully understood – people with disabilities work and go in for sports, it is not surprising that those who experience difficulties in their professional activities are looking for and finding ways to overcome them.

An accountant today does not need verbal counting skills, and the excitement of meetings, negotiations, and presentations can be dealt with careful preparation.

Psychological tests - their development, how they work, why do we need them and how much we can trust them? | SHL Hungary

Westing cannot be entrusted to non-specialists

It does not occur to non-medical professionals to interpret the results of ultrasound, X-ray, or blood tests.

Unfortunately, some HR specialists sincerely believe that anyone who has a questionnaire of 40-50-60-100 questions and a key to summarize the points scored by the applicant can understand the personality and intelligence of an applicant.

Not everything is so simple – despite the abundance of scientific theories explaining human behavior and his ability to solve problems of various kinds, professional diagnostic tools are difficult to use even by specialists, and popular tests that determine, for example, the type of temperament, the severity of leadership styles or behavior in conflict situations, not suitable for professional use.

I do not want to scare anyone with the complexity of the development and application of professional tests and the fact that even a specialized education does not make a good diagnostician out of a psychologist.

However, this does not scare anyone, HR specialists often quite seriously turn to colleagues with a request to “share reliable tools” for measuring “responsibility”, “leadership potential”, “command” etc.

Regarding the “unique methods” of testing applicants, promoted and sold by some companies, available to ordinary users, their effectiveness is measured by exceptionally good marketing and customer confidence in their effectiveness.

Using psychological tests is laborious

The standard procedure for studying personality and intelligence characteristics using professional methods will take about four hours.

Given the value of the information it receives in making hiring decisions, testing doesn’t pay off. I will delicately keep silent about the attitude of applicants to long-term testing.

The fifth reason is ethical

The ethics of psychological research implies the obligatory consent of the test taker to carry out diagnostics and his right to get acquainted with the results obtained and know who will have access to them.

Everyone who was tested by those who clearly did not hear about ethics and did not study psychology at the university knows how it actually happens.

More often than not, test results cannot be trusted

This primarily refers to personality questionnaires. A job seeker wishing to fill a vacant position cannot help but strive to give an “expected” answer.

It is not difficult to understand the logic of many tests, so the test result is taken as the applicant’s attempt to give the “correct” answers.

You shouldn’t rely on “scales of lies” – if the applicant fails to “understand” the test and depict the desired profile, the result of the test will be information that the subject “tried very hard” but wasted time.

Reliable and effective tests, alas, do not exist

If we turn to the history of psychology, then the period of the rapid development of psychodiagnostics fell on the period of the 50-the 80s of the XX century, when most of the tests popular to this day were developed.

Alas, for 50 years, psychologists have not been able to develop new effective and reliable methods that allow to accurately assess applicants and predict their behavior and those tests, which were developed in the heyday of psychodiagnostics, have not been proven to be effective.

I think it’s worth accepting – a person is too complex for a test to ever become an effective tool for his assessment.

Of course, numerous sellers of “unique tests” will argue with me, guaranteeing one hundred percent reliability of the assessment of applicants, but come down from heaven to earth – if “unique tests” existed, were millions of people mistaken in choosing workers and partners for family life.

Testing applicants is a violation of the Law on Personal Data

Even if the employer testing applicants, wishing to avoid being brought to administrative responsibility, obtains written consent from the applicant to process data on personality and intelligence characteristics, bypass the prohibition on “processing personal data incompatible with the collection purposes personal data” will not work – the employer will most likely fail to prove that psychological tests are necessary to assess the qualifications of applicants, which may result in a fine.

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