Wickland Westcott

Colin Mercer

The Democratisation of Psychometrics

Fundamental changes are happening across the world, as knowledge (and power) flows away from experts and professionals towards everyday users. You can see it in legal services, health education, and financial services, and it will happen in assessment.

These shifts represent a commoditisation of people assessment services. To be clear, there will still be a (growing) requirement for detailed, sensitive, insightful, face-to-face executive assessments - provided by firms like Wickland Westcott. But behind this there will be an enormous spike in demand for volume-based, online practical assessment tools.

The picture becomes clearer

Meanwhile after decades of research, psychologists’ understanding of what makes for executive success is starting to firm up: intellect, hard-work, emotional resilience, interpersonal warmth and openness to the new. Dealing with ambiguity is also right up there. These concepts can now be measured with quite high levels of accuracy.

Psychometrics are ideal for deploying online. Personality instruments in particular are well suited for mobile applications. There are a few practical issues (e.g. Who is actually completing this test?) but these are surmountable and will quickly fade. Expect to see greater use of psychometrics, and much earlier in hiring processes. Many new psychometric tools will come onto the market. Some will be available for free, but be wary of quality.

"Expect to see greater use of psychometrics, and much earlier in hiring processes."

Increasingly, psychometrics are being utilised by executive headhunters. The more progressive Search firms are now embracing them, rather than shying away from psychometrics for fear they might blow a promising candidate out of the water. At Wickland Westcott, all shortlisted candidates complete a personality questionnaire, and the report is included in the short-list pack that goes to clients - it is an important differentiator for us.

Another growing theme is convergence - organisations will start to use big data principles to connect and crystallise the information they have about people, to give both a more comprehensive picture of each person, and to provide insight concerning themes across groups. Both parties need to benefit from this insight – the individual and the organisation.

Improved tools

At Wickland Westcott we use psychometrics from many different test houses. But we became a little concerned that one or two suppliers were not quite embracing the new world. So we acquired Tests Direct whose flagship product is an excellent, new personality tool called Credo. Psychological knowledge has moved on and our tools need to reflect this. Today we understand that someone may be interpersonally warm, and yet still have low attachment needs - Credo distinguishes between such subtleties.

The Credo expert system report-generator (known internally as "the psychologist in a box") works at the touch of a button, and produces insightful, coherent, nuanced reports. In selection settings this helps "fast-track" the interview and more quickly get to the heart of the conversation. In development settings it prompts richer conversations sooner.

To experience Credo for yourself without charge, contact us. If you have feedback about any aspect of Tests Direct or Wickland Westcott, please call me on the same number.

Colin Mercer is Managing Director of Wickland Westcott.