We all know first impressions count. And research tells us that we form those impressions extremely quickly: one-tenth of a second. Or, as the saying goes, in the blink of an eye.

In a blink, we form an opinion on another person’s trustworthiness, which researchers suggest may have evolved as a survival mechanism. A blink might have been enough to assess character thousands of years ago, but it certainly isn’t long enough to determine if someone is the right fit for a job, team or particular business challenge in today’s complex society. Nor is it long enough to unpick the web of unconscious bias that can plague snap judgments.

Today, we have more powerful tools at our disposal.

Going beyond technical skills

Long gone are the days when technical skills were enough to ensure success in a role. Now, hiring managers want to understand all the qualities that a person will bring to a role: how agile they are, whether they will deploy empathy, how they collaborate.

The hiring manager wants to know that the individual they choose can really wrap their arms around the piece of the business they are running, lead their people and fit the culture.

Psychometrics help complete a candidate’s story

 The growing appetite to understand the complete candidate takes us well beyond a blink. It even takes us beyond a resume followed by the usual triad of application form, interviews and references.

While these selection methods remain the most commonly used processes at most organisations, they can only tell you so much. And they’re often more susceptible to the influence of unconscious bias.

When it comes to understanding all that an individual candidate will bring to the role, modern psychometric assessments provide a better indication of an individual’s likely success in a role in a cost-effective manner. They provide an independent measure of a person’s competencies, abilities, personality and motivation.

We’re certainly not saying psychometrics replace traditional selection methods. Far from it. They offer another source of data, helping to complete a candidate’s story.

Tools for smarter selection, development and promotion

The value that psychometrics bring to a business isn’t limited to a particular phase of an employee’s experience. Rather, the insights on offer can be leveraged throughout their journey from selection into development, through to promotion.

During selection, psychometrics help talent acquisition professionals to focus on the great candidates within the applicant pool. This will become increasingly important as higher unemployment drives greater numbers of candidates and identifying those with the strongest fit to an ideal success profile will be key.

In recent years, companies have also been using psychometric testing to determine the type of personal development or support a new recruit might need as part of the onboarding process. Longer term, psychometrics can help shape an individual’s development plan as they look to grow into bigger roles within the organisation. This approach again uses an ideal success profile to show stretch for the employee.

So while first impressions certainly still count, these days there’s much more available to tell the story.

Learn more about using psychometrics for smarter talent acquisition in our guide.

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About the contributor

Colin is an organisational development practitioner who has spent the last 15 years delivering projects across the entire human capital lifecycle, from talent acquisition to development and succession. He is a registered psychologist with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and a member of the Australian Psychological Society College of Organisational Psychologists.

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