Psychological testing in Recruitment: How useful is it?

psychological testing, recruitment, hr, human resources, social awareness, recruitment process, recruitment and selection, psychology, big 5, myers briggs, business process

“It was hard to fool someone who could tell what you were thinking.”
― Rachel Hartman

I often ponder about the age-old question whether psychological testing is beneficial or even necessary in recruitment so I wanted to touch base with this topic because I see a lot of LinkedIn postings about it. The disclaimer here is that there are more than one opinion on this and they greatly vary or differ depending on the subjective viewpoints. Psychologists will defend this to the core of their being, of course, but to see whether this is really necessary, beneficial or even detrimental, we will dive into the couple of different segments of this. Anything backed up by scientific data should be regarded as a valuable information but is it still as important as the brought up fact that we’re dealing with people who are prone to change in contrast/as opposed to the needs of particular business needs? A complex topic yet again, to be sure, but let’s try and find pros and cons to this.

Impact on different types of businesses

HR professionals will always want to put the emphasis on the importance of a good, detailed and effective recruitment process. The question here is whether one type of process works for different business which employ different positions. The short answer is a definite no. A manufacturing company which employs the majority of their staff under the blue-collar wing won’t need such a high complexity in their recruitment process, mainly because such mindset doesn’t „approve“ of such details and they usually want to find the job really fast. With really high turnover and a dozen interviews, a psychological test won’t give you any extra information that a good recruiter doesn’t already know or change the fact that a small percentage of salary increase would prompt them to change jobs immediately. Combine that with the fact that the labor market has been suffering dearly for the last couple of years, specifically in the area of labor workers who know their trade. On the flip side, you have an IT company with, let’s say, a good reputation and a long-standing list of faithful clients. If the workflow and cashflow are consistently above average and you could say the profits are on the earning side, they can allow themselves to put more quality on their recruitment process. With more budget comes more need for care of it so companies want to really make sure to pick the right candidate, especially for the long-term commitment. Sure, in that case, you could say it can be more reliable than not to have the testing incorporated. But then again, the percentage of being right or wrong in picking the candidate wouldn’t differ much without it.

psychological testing, recruitment, hr, human resources, social awareness, recruitment process, recruitment and selection, psychology, big 5, myers briggs, business process
Psychological testing – is human emotion making it biased in the end?

Recruitment experience as an important factor

I’d say the most important factor, actually. The article before this one was about social awareness and social cues which also play a big role in recruitment. With enough experience, a recruiter can spot them and use them as possible outcome predictors with perceived employment. They can also probe deeper in whatever topic they desire to with the corresponding social cues. Big 5 personality traits can be perceived „from afar“ with the right questions asked which gives a recruiter almost the same answer as a psychological test would. A seasoned recruiter would also spot the red flags (which could impact cultural or personality fit) right from the handshake, if there are any, so if the requirement is emphasized on that part, psychological tests have no value in that regard. Social intelligence of a recruiter is obviously a big requirement here so on that note, we know that with or without any testing, all people are different and unique so no method can guarantee a desired outcome.

psychological testing, recruitment, hr, human resources, social awareness, recruitment process, recruitment and selection, psychology, big 5, myers briggs, business process
Psychological testing – recruitment experience makes up for it?

Pros and cons of incorporation

Let’s start with the pros because, as by the sound of it, there’s not that many; for a complete and thorough recruitment process which may or may not help in the employer branding area as well as higher percentage of making the better choice in the end, it’s a positive thing definitely. On the other hand, the cons are more than you’d wish for, in my opinion. First of all, it usually presents a higher burden on the budget than it should and as mentioned above, that cost doesn’t really get compensated by the service or results. Then, the speed of the recruitment process, which is really important, is slowed down considerably; something which isn’t desirable in companies with high turnovers and for the expectations of today’s workforce. And lastly (at least last for this article), if a company has couple of recruiters with five years or more of experience and thousands of interviews under their belt, there’s no need for scientific confirmation on whether the candidate is the right choice. In many cases, a recruiter ends up being right despite the testing determining that the result wouldn’t suffice in being the right choice.


The gist of this topic is that psychological testing is negligent for the most part, in my opinion. Sure, it depends on the business and how high the turnover is, but if a company has recruiters with good experience and above-average social intelligence, it should be enough of a estimation on whether a candidate is good enough to employ. Granted, if a company wants to uphold the most excellence in terms of process efficiency, has more budget to spare, then yes, psychological testing can be an asset.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *