What kind of psychometric tests are there

Psychometric Testing: The Applicant, the Unknown Being

Most German clinics avoid personality tests - wrongly.

Photo: Fotolia / Robert Kneschke

Success in the job is influenced by two factors: specialist knowledge and personality. Two doctors may be suitable for different careers even though they have the same medical knowledge. Qualities such as empathy, ambition or self-discipline are just as important, but they exist to different degrees in applicants. When filling vacancies, clinics are therefore well advised to find out as much as possible about the applicant's personality. Psychometric tests can help here. But these only become meaningful when combined with other methods.

The aim of every selection process is to answer the question: Can an applicant achieve the goals associated with his new position? To answer this, employers need to know the skills of the candidates. Equally important, however, are questions like: What motivates this person? What is he interested in? What is his personality? Introverts will find it difficult to get a job that requires them to give regular lectures. In a managerial position you need assertiveness, in contact with patients you need a lot of empathy.

There are three approaches for personnel decision-makers to determine such characteristics in candidates: The biography-oriented approach can be pursued with interviews that deal with future plans and perspectives. Those who proceed in a simulation-oriented way, on the other hand, use role plays or case studies to find out how candidates behave and solve tasks. The property-oriented approach relies on personality tests. Basically, none of these approaches lead to 100% accurate results. This is especially true for free interviews that are not systematized, i.e. where applicants are not asked the same questions according to a pattern. The probability of arriving at relevant statements in an unstructured interview is only 14 percent. It is important to combine several assessment approaches in order to view a candidate from different perspectives and to arrive at an overall impression.

When it comes to assessing character traits, scientifically sound test procedures in personality diagnostics are of great value. Such psychometric tests must be differentiated from pure performance tests, which focus on the ability to concentrate, logical thinking and understanding the text.

There are no right or wrong answers to personality tests. Instead, it is about recognizing the characteristics of characteristics such as a willingness to make contact and make decisions, or the will to lead. Such procedures are particularly helpful when filling management positions. Depending on the type of test, applicants must answer multiple-choice questions or state whether certain statements apply to them. Open-ended questions are also possible, in which the candidates have to describe how they would act in fictitious situations. Since such test procedures can now be used online and without much effort, a large number of new methods have come onto the market in recent years. However, many of these offers have weaknesses in terms of their reliability. The important thing is how transparent and thus manipulable the test is. A candidate who wants to put himself in a good professional light will probably not agree with a statement such as “I am slightly worried” - even if he is in fact not very stress-resistant. Applicants have to answer such a statement, for example, in the NEO five-factor inventory, a common personality test that is only of limited use for personnel selection due to its transparency. The type of psychometric test that is suitable for filling a position depends on which characteristics are important for the position and therefore need to be analyzed, and which function the test assumes within the entire selection process. A simple online process can be a good way to make a preselection. If the selection is already limited, more complex tests, such as those used by Rochus Mummert Healthcare Consulting, are appropriate in order to gain new and relevant knowledge. Anyone who uses psychometric tests therefore needs a good overview of the market, has to know the strengths and weaknesses of the individual procedures and thoroughly plan the application process, both in terms of time and content. The evaluation of the test, which should be carried out by specialists, should not be underestimated. In the first step, the results of the test must be evaluated and compared with the target profile, taking into account the norm group. In the second step, the results are systematically related to other assessment steps: Do the results of the personality test confirm some of the assumptions that were made during an interview? By combining the results with findings from discussions and other selection methods, a basis is created for making the right decision.

Experience in personnel selection is very valuable when dealing with applicants. It leads to a gut feeling towards the candidate that should not be underestimated. But such a gut feeling can always be deceptive. The personal, subjective assessment should therefore be supplemented by various evaluations and methods. Clinics need not fear that personality tests will have a negative impact on their image and thus deter talent. Experience has shown that the use of such procedures is unproblematic for 90 percent of applicants. But so far only around a quarter of German clinics have used psychometric tests. The risk that a new employee does not fit into a position because it does not correspond to his nature is therefore unnecessarily high. This is especially true for management positions. Wrong appointments can lead to more dissatisfaction in the team and higher fluctuation. In addition, it slows down the development of a clinic if positions are not adequately filled. In times of increasing competitive pressure, hospitals should therefore also take advantage of opportunities to improve their application processes with effective methods.

Dr. med. Peter Windeck
Managing Director of Rochus Mummert Healthcare Consulting GmbH in Hanover