Psychometric tests gain traction in IT recruiting

While organisations are increasingly relying on psychometric testing as part of the recruitment process for senior business executives, IT managers and CIOs are being headhunted via contacts or selected on their reputation, according to industry experts.

Used to assess a candidate's personality, intelligence and aptitude, psychometric testing is part of the recruitment and selection strategy in 20 per cent of 500 organisations that responded to an Icon Recruitment survey.

The agency's human resources services consultant, Jill Noble said such psychological assessments are designed to show dimensions of a candidate's style and drive, which are easily overlooked or even disguised during an interview.

"The areas where my clients are using it the most is in the recruitment of business analysts, project managers, or people focused or customer-facing IT roles," Noble said.

"Typically, companies recruit senior IT managers and CIOs either internally or via their network of contacts - rather than through a recruitment agency - hence to date I have not seen many Australian organisations use psyche assessments for this level of IT recruitment.

"They might believe that a personnel referral is enough or may not know how to engage an assessment provider if they have found their own selection of candidates."

With IT becoming more of a "foundation for business and companies using IT developments to gain competitive advantage", Noble said companies want well-rounded, business-focused IT professionals. It is this interest that is driving the use of psyche and behavioural assessments in the recruitment process.

Noble said reputation and past performance is important for CIOs, but being aware of the motivation, mindset, emotional intelligence, values, beliefs, needs and feelings of a CIO can add rigour to the process and a company can hire with confidence.

"So, by assessing a CIO's track record, you see that they have delivered in the past; you ask behavioural questions to add proof to this and by using a psychometric assessment you get additional assurance that this a pattern which is likely to be repeated and that no barriers are lurking beneath the surface of the displayed behaviour," Noble said.

National human resources manager for employment services company Max Network, Jason Shield said his Queensland-based national organisation recently used psychometric testing as part of the recruitment process in its search for an IT director.

Using a combination of Icon's online recruitment and psychometric assessment services and Max's own psychometric testing, Shield said he saw about 12 applicants for the IT director position which was filled two months ago.

"We provide our own psychometric testing, and Max employs psychologists who develop and carry out the tests for our customers which include private organisations and government departments," Shield said adding that Max's testing times vary from 30 minutes to two hours - "depending on what the customer is looking for".

Anthony Ball, southern operations manager for SHL (formerly known as Saville & Holdsworth Ltd), a publisher of occupationally relevant psychological assessment instruments said a survey it had conducted found that 30 per cent of Australian employers who have 100-plus employees use psychometric testing, and the number is definitely growing.

Ball said the survey also showed that a large proportion of those organisations not currently using psychometric testing indicated that they will do so in the next two years.

"We anticipate the usage of tests to double in the next three to five years. There was a clear trend toward increased use of testing at more senior levels. We certainly have done assessments for IT roles and CIOs," Ball said.

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