Psychometric Testing

What are Psychometrics?

Introduction to Psychometrics

Leadership roles place considerable demands on those who occupy them, and the way they respond to those demands reflects the personality and background of the individual. We use psychometric questionnaires to provide insights into the style and likely effectiveness of a leader’s behavioural responses and the underlying individual characteristics which shape them.

Two particular features of leadership roles mean that individual characteristics have a greater impact on behaviour than in most other roles.

  • First, leadership roles tend to be complex, ambiguous and demanding. These features mean that much energy is needed to attend to the challenges themselves, and this reduces the resources available for self-regulation (managing our own behaviour and monitoring our impact on others), making the influence of personality on behaviour more likely.
  • Secondly, leadership roles typically involve greater autonomy and discretion than other roles; they offer greater scope for the individual to choose what to focus on and how to approach issues, and that provides more opportunity for personality to operate.

As a consequence, it is important that leaders have a grounded understanding of their own personality and preferences, in order to become better informed about the impact of these characteristics on their current behaviour and their potential for future development.

Psychometrics Corner Image

Developing an Understanding

Providing a Perspective on the Individual

We use a range of different questionnaires to develop that understanding; each provides a perspective on the individual which complements the others. We choose and recommend the questionnaires which best suit your needs and budget. Psychometrics we typically use include:

The NEO is regarded as the ‘gold standard’ in personality measurement and is the most common yardstick against which other measures are benchmarked.  It measures five core personality factors, known as ‘The Big Five’:

  • Neuroticism: How much pressure do you feel and how emotionally resilient are you?
  • Extraversion: How much energy to you put into your interactions with other people?
  • Openness: How open are you to new experiences of various kinds?
  • Agreeableness: How easy are you for others to get on with?
  • Conscientiousness: How purposeful, organised and determined are you?

These characteristics have been shown to have a considerable impact on the ability of leaders to acquire and sustain the different elements of the behavioural repertoire required for effective leadership.  As such, they have important implications for future development potential.

Most people show changes in their behaviour in situations which they perceive as threatening or highly stressful.  Because leadership roles often involve considerable pressure, there will be times for all leaders where such changes are likely to become evident.

The HDS assesses an individual’s reactions and potential over-reactions under such circumstances.  Developed on the basis of research into how and why leaders ‘derail’, it offers insights into how a leader’s behaviour may change in ways which are likely to undermine their effectiveness.

The questionnaire measures 11 characteristics which under normal circumstances may well be strengths, but which under pressure may become exaggerated to the point of becoming weaknesses. The results highlight areas of risk for the individual, particularly in their ability to sustain positive relationships with others, and suggest strategies for reducing their occurrence and impact.

This questionnaire provides a measure of an individual’s motives, values and preferences.  These features have important consequences for leadership in two main ways.

First, they reflect the underlying values, goals and needs which define what is important to a person. They allow us to understand what an individual wants from their experience at work and in life: what drives and motivates them.

Secondly, they provide an indication of the kinds of organisational culture an individual is likely to seek to create, and within which they are likely to thrive or struggle.

The questionnaire measures 10 motivational themes through questions which reflect 5 aspects of the individual in which their values and preferences are likely to be expressed.  These are their lifestyle (how they want to live); their beliefs (their ideals and life goals – their ‘shoulds’); their work preferences; their aversions (those things they seek to avoid); and their preferred associations (the kinds of people they like to spend time with).

The MBTI instrument provides a simple and flexible framework that can be applied to all areas of human interaction and personal development. It can be helpful as a simple and easy to grasp profile used to help teams to understand each other and work together more effectively.

The MBTI profile reveals how we see and interact with the world, providing insight into our preferences and those of others.

MBTI identifies personality type, made up of four basic preferences:

  • Favourite world: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).
  • Information: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).
  • Decisions: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).
  • Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).

Dimensions is a personality questionnaire that assesses key behaviours at work. It uses a simpler framework to the NEO (which also means less granular feedback however) so can be useful for development or selection at lower management levels.

The Dimensions questionnaire measures personality across three broad domains:

  • People and Relationships – concerned with an individual’s style in handling relationships at work.
  • Tasks and Projects – examines an individual’s thinking style and how they prefer to manage tasks.
  • Drives and Emotions – looks at how an individual deals with their energies and emotions.

Matrigma is a classic cognitive ability test built on a modern online platform. Matrigma measures cognitive ability, which concerns a person’s ability to solve problems, plan ahead and draw logical conclusions.

Research shows that a candidate’s level of cognitive ability helps to predict job performance, job satisfaction, voluntary turnover, and training performance as well as counter-productive work behaviours. In more complex jobs such as managerial or specialist roles, cognitive ability has an even higher impact.

The graduate and managerial assessment (GMA) contains three reasoning tests – abstract, verbal and numerical. These tests have been specially created to assess candidates and existing employees with higher-level ability and senior management potential.

The GMA group of tests assess the key skills of:

  • Verbal reasoning – Measures critical thinking and the ability to assess the importance and logic of verbally presented reports in an objective manner.
  • Numerical reasoning – Measures the ability to reason with numbers and to understand information presented in numerical form.
  • Abstract reasoning – Measures the ability to think strategically and the capacity to perceive new and changing patterns.

Each test can be used in isolation or can be completed as a group.

The GMA is used for assessment and selection at a variety of levels including senior managerial and directors, professionals, middle managers, junior managers, and graduates.