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Psychometrics, and pigeonholing psychos

Psychometrics, and pigeonholing psychos

Kipp has had more than its fair share of crazy colleagues. Would a simple multiple-choice test have prevented this?

March 29, 2010 9:59 by

There was the kleptomaniac, with his penchant for Post-its. There was the pyromaniac, who liked to set fire to said Post-its, and almost everything else. And then there was the nymphomaniac, who didn’t really have an opinion about office stationery. Thankfully.

Yes, it’s the office maniac/crazy person. We’ve all worked with someone who fits this description, or possibly many people that do. And there’s not a lot you can do about it.

Or is there? Over recent years, psychometric evaluations have become more and more common in recruitment, with companies spending vast amounts of time and money on testing – or attempting to test – the intelligence and personality of potential employees.

Psychometric testing may not be able to solve everything, but it can help identify crazy job candidates. So should it be made compulsory in the Mideast?

Perhaps. A recent poll by Middle East jobs website, for example, found that only 12 percent of respondents said that they had undergone a psychometric evaluation for an employer or potential employer. But as many as 63 percent think Middle East companies should start using or supporting psychometric evaluation.

But Kipp is in two minds, as it were, about the benefits of psychometrics. For there have been many criticisms over the way these tests work.

Firstly, people can’t be pigeonholed as easily as these tests make out. While everyone has their own character traits, business professionals have to inhabit a number of different ‘roles’ at work, which may be of contradictory types (as defined by the psychometricians, at least).

Secondly, serious questions have been raised as to whether such tests can accurately measure personality traits. Many of the tests appear to be only evaluating the consistency of a candidate’s answers, rather than the actual meaning behind them. And given that many people skew their answers to what they believe their potential employer wants, the best candidates may end up being penalized unfairly.

Other criticisms include: the lack of proper regulation of how the tests are conducted; the fact that they are often administered by under-qualified HR staff; and the fact that candidates are rarely given test results, and have no way to tell whether or not they received a fair evaluation. Some academics have even asserted that psychometric tests favor certain ethnic and age groups.

So if psychometric tests do become more popular in the Middle East, local employers must ensure that they are implemented in a responsible manner.

For while no-one wants to work with that pyromaniac Post-it thief, all job candidates need to be given a fair chance.

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