The Resilient Workforce: How Psychometric Testing Predicts Adaptability

This article was originally published in Talent Culture

When building a resilient workforce, adaptability isn’t a nice-to-have quality in employees; it’s an essential component of a workforce capable of accepting and overcoming unexpected challenges. Resilient companies have long shown a higher likelihood of surviving and even thriving through crises — a theme that the pandemic has underscored. Success is related to how quickly and effectively workforces pivot to address change.

Human resources leaders who recognize the power of building a resilient workforce need to seek out adaptable employees. But how can they tell whether a job applicant possesses a high degree of adaptability?

Résumés might give an inkling of potential resilience and under-pressure responses. However, they don’t tell the whole story of how someone will react and adapt in the face of the unexpected and unprecedented. That’s where the power of psychometric testing can come into play for employee recruitment strategies.

Building a Resilient Workforce: Leverage Psychometric Testing

Psychometric testing isn’t a new concept, to be sure. Many businesses have used psychometric assessments for recruitment and selection for decades. In fact, these types of tests — sometimes referred to as personality tests — gained popularity more than a half-century ago with the creation of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

Today, many other psychometric test vehicles are available on the marketplace in addition to Myers-Briggs. Many of them share a general purpose: Identify a person’s key strengths and weaknesses. Once identified, those aptitudes, skills, and abilities can form a picture of what the person will be like in everyday life. And, most important to those involved in corporate human capital, how they will be while at work.

The problem, of course, is that psychometric personality tests can be simultaneously accurate and flawed. Why? They’re usually a good measurement of the test taker’s self-perception. But without deeper interpretation, they may not fully indicate how others perceive the test taker. Case in point: It’s possible for someone to self-assess as a leader. But it is also possible not to be seen as a leader by colleagues.

This doesn’t mean that HR leaders should do away with psychometric tools for recruitment. What it does mean is that the tools require thoughtful planning and implementation. When handled correctly, they help a company build a team of vibrant, versatile performers who can adapt to changing needs.

3 Strategies of Psychometric Testing

If you’re not convinced you’re getting the most out of the psychometric testing you’re doing right now, apply the following strategies. These steps can help you improve the results of psychometric tests and avoid common pitfalls:

1. Look for proof points

Valid and effective psychometric tests will likely be backed by historical research. Look for third-party and proprietary studies from the organization that created the test or outside case studies from companies that have used it. Without data and proof points, it’s difficult to predict whether a test will produce accurate and valuable results for your organization.

As you’re researching options, also be wary of any tests that seem to oversimplify results. Personalities are complex and multidimensional. A test that simply places users into predetermined categories with little additional context in the report likely won’t give you the insights you need to determine true adaptability.

2. Make the test a collaborative effort

Far too many companies adopt a “set it and forget it” mentality when it comes to psychometric tests. They ask candidates or workers to undergo assessments. They then receive a compilation of the outcomes and allow everything to continue as usual. The best testing methodologies, however, go a step further. They incorporate trained interpreters to work with test-takers.

The interpreter can go over the data and co-create results with the test taker. They’ll talk through the data and may even relate results to the individual’s past experiences. Often, this process produces profound self-discoveries. At this point, the interpreter and test taker can use the data to help the employee set goals, such as improving resilience and innovative thinking.

3. Go beyond initial data

Generally, hiring teams should not use psychometric tests as a pass-fail assessment for job candidates or current employees. They are excellent tools to integrate as one element of a comprehensive interview, selection, and training process, but they’re not meant to stand alone. Think of the tests in terms of the insights they can offer to give you a jumping-off point for diving deeper. For example, if a test shows that working under pressure may be a top skill for a candidate, ask the candidate to describe a time they have experienced such a situation and how they adapted to overcome it.

Psychometric Testing: The Goal is Awareness

Remember that the goal is awareness — you want to get the fullest picture of a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses so that you know what to leverage and where to compensate. So when building resiliency in a workforce, use these tests to identify potential areas for training and development. 

For example, If a candidate shows a high aptitude for communication — a great fit for a specific role. But the test also shows their ability to be flexible could use some work. You can then focus on developing the skill of adaptability in their first few months on the job to make them a great asset within for building a resilient workforce.

Working with a team of adaptable employees means you don’t have to worry as much about people digging into their comfort zones and resisting change. Use thoughtful psychometric testing as part of your employee recruitment strategies, onboarding, and continuous improvement processes. The tests can help you create a workforce that’s eager, ambitious, and flexible — even in the face of the unknown.

About the Author

Shawn Miller is the Principal for People Solutions Services at Morrison. To get in touch with Shawn, please find contact information for Morrison here.


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