A company is able to attain its best shape depending on the people associated with it. It is hence very necessary to have an effective background screening policy in operation to weed out all those candidates who might be in some or other way detrimental to the organization’s interests. Irrespective of the fact it is fair or not, it is an unfortunate reality that a company will be held responsible for any actions of its employees, regardless of what the circumstances are. As a matter of fact, an incompetent, malicious, corrupt employee has the ability to permanently damage the reputation of an organization amidst its clients and investors both within the industry, and the general public, overnight. So the only way to avoid such scenarios is to know exactly who you are hiring.
Many studies have been conducted which indicates that job seekers tend to lie on their resumes at times, and as an employee gains more years of experience, so does increase their power to withhold information from the prospective employers and falsify certain facts about career. A complete background check on the prospective hires will negate any influence of misinformation by the candidates. By verifying an applicant’s identity, education, and employment records, his authenticity can be proved. One can even try establishing a psychometric profile, by analyzing their habits on their social media, criminal history, and at times credit scores as well. So it is best to introduce protocols which makes sure that you always hire the right candidate for the job, without settling for anything less.
There are many tools that employers might use in assessing their potential hires, such as reviewing their resumes, conducting interviews and performing reference checks on past employments. However, there should be a review process continues for the existing employees as well which can be done through performance evaluations, an overall feedback systems and in house competitions. These processes have been aggravated by certain employers who have taken a step further by introducing the policies of psychometric testing in their organization. A psychometric test involves formal tests that can evaluate the personality and mental aptitude of the prospective or existing employees.
One of the most popular methods of psychometric testing is the Myers-Briggs questionnaire, according to which individuals can be classified as one of 16 varied personality types. Though it is also true that numerous other procedures, instruments, and tools are available. The sole aim of psychometric testing on the existing or potential employees is to provide comprehensive information about the personality of an individual, their behavior and abilities which helps the employer to take better and safer hiring decisions.
Typically in general terms, there are four ways in which psychometric testing can be used by an employer:
Psychometric Testing During Hiring and Promotion
Screening: Psychometric testing can be used at the initial stage of hiring to screen the best candidates. One can ask job applicants to complete the desired type of psychometric testing as part of the application process. An employer can use the results derived from the test as one of the deciding factors in deciding who can qualify for the next steps. This procedure can be effective while dealing with a larger number of applications, such as large scale recruitment from the campus drives and walk in drives.
Selection: In the later of the hiring process psychometric testing can also be used to make a better selection among the candidates who have been shortlisted for a specific position. If the hiring is for managerial or executive-level positions, one can use more comprehensive and multi-faced testing procedures.
Using Psychometric Tests in Development and Assessment
Informational: Employers should also initiate employees to undergo psychometric tests. This will not only increase their awareness both about their own personality but they will also get to know how they are different from their colleagues in respect to personality and mental aptitude. This can be a strong basis of a team-building exercise, along with it can also improve communication amongst the employees, and solve conflicts in the workplace if there is any.
Decision-making: Psychometric testing can also be used by employers to make decisions about the roles of employees and what would be the impact of their role in the organization. For example, psychometric testing can help in determining whether the selected employees have the aptitude for leadership positions or not.
Psychometric tests are currently used for hiring in a variety of industries. But there are a number of issues which an employer should consider while deciding to implement psychometric tests in their workplace and the potential concerns related to their implementation are practical also. For example, since a variety of psychometric tests available therefore an employer will have to devote significant time and effort in choosing the tests which are capable of meeting the specific needs of the organization. Once an employer chooses a particular set of tests, it must be looked into the fact that the tests have been properly administered. It should also be kept in mind that over-reliance on psychometric testing at the cost of other background screening methods can result in inadvertent screening out of strong candidates.
However, apart from the practical concerns, there are certain legal issues which an employer must always keep in consideration:
According to the legislation of Human rights, employers are prohibited from making hiring decisions which are based on factors such as place of birth or religious background, or family status or physical or mental disability if any. Employers are generally aware of the fact that they should refrain from asking questions to the job applicants about any of their religious beliefs or if they are mentally healthy or not. But there are certain types of psychometric testing which might lead to a human right complaint if it causes to classify a single or a group of individuals being “screened out” from the hiring procedure based on prohibited grounds of discrimination.
The very basic aim of psychometric tests as we know is to collect information about the personality of an individual. However, it is worth mentioning that the personal information that is obtained by psychological or personality tests are naturally highly sensitive. So, it is important to consider the privacy rights of both the prospective employees and the existing ones who are undergoing the tests. It the responsibility of an employer to clearly identify the purpose for collecting the information. An employer should further ensure that the information that is collected relates to the purposes needful for the organization. It is unethical to pry in the personal aspects of an individual which does not have any relation to the productivity of an organization. In conducting the tests proper consents should be obtained from both the candidate and any other concerning legal authority if necessary. Any information that is obtained from the candidate should only be used only in accordance with those consents. Let us consider a scenario, it is completely inappropriate for an employer to gather information about an employee without his consent and conduct a psychometric test as a pretext of a team-building exercise and then, without the knowledge of the employee, use the results derived to make hiring decision or to decide which employees to be promoted. Finally, it must always be taken care of that the information collected is not improperly accessed or misused. It is quite crucial that employers who are considering to implement the psychometric test should do their due diligence to avoid any legal harassment.
Human capital is one of the greatest strength of an organization, so making mistakes in the pre-employment verification process may result in hiring an unsuitable candidate who can prove disastrous for the organization, both in financial terms, as well as in terms of its reputation. It is advisable to take the services of professional background screening organizations, instead of conducting these tests on own. The reason behind is though the internal hiring team of a company might be adept at conducting employee verification at the basic level, they will surely lack the resources, expertise, and the information that is required for a comprehensive background check. Though even the most comprehensive background policies will never completely assure that the attitude and behavior of an individual, can considerably reduce the risk of hiring an employee who might be potential harm to the company.
Finally, and perhaps one of the most important fact is that while psychometric testing is a useful tool in making every type of hiring decisions, it is not the only one factor to consider, and it should not be used as an alternative to the employer using his own judgment. Every kind of background verification be it of any kind should be based on reputable research. The policies must be such that it is able to withstand inspection from every perspective of human rights. Moreover, the test should be implemented fairly and reasonably apart from taking into account the privacy concerns of the employee.
cFIRST Think Tank is the team that researches and produces content for cFirst. This team comprises of seasoned content and digital design professionals and background screening industry veterans. Together we produce insightful blogs, infographics and reports meant for HR and background screening professionals.