The 4 biggest assessment myths undermining your hiring process


Assessment tools can assist the hiring process, but if poorly used they can further complicate what may already be a stressful exercise.


McKinsey & Company, management consultants, recently explored “The four biggest assessment myths undermining the hiring process”.  This blog summarises those myths and also provides more on assessments and psychometric testing.


1. The more assessments, the better

Despite what many think, using more assessments is not always better—and can often be worse than using too few. Using additional assessments that do not meaningfully distinguish who is best suited for the job will result in worse hiring decisions than if these additional data points were not used at all.

Simple advice - if there isn’t direct science linking the assessment to job performance or to the characteristic you’ve determined matters for the job in question, don’t use it.

2. Assessments that use the latest machine learning/AI are better than long established assessments

While we share the enthusiasm for the potential of advanced technologies and techniques (e.g., gamified assessments), we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

Decades of research has shown that traditional assessments of cognitive ability and personality traits (e.g., conscientiousness) are still some of the best predictors out there.

At a minimum, assessment vendors should have technical documentation describing the reliability, validity and prescribed uses of their assessments. Also pay attention to any information on test bias, administration requirements and potentially available databases for scoring and test interpretation.

3. Hiring assessments are only for hiring decisions

Just because they’re often called hiring assessments doesn’t mean their usefulness stops there.

This data can be very useful for on-boarding and ongoing learning and development of new hires. McKinsey recommend leveraging this assessment information to create a tailored training plan for the successful applicant’s first six months on the job.

4. Standardised assessments are less useful for leadership positions

When used in the right way assessments have a place across the hierarchy. As with entry-level positions, having a structured approach to gather information on leaders via assessments is helpful.

With leaders though, the degree and type of information needed to make quality decisions is necessarily different. Concrete information about leaders’ interpersonal and working style may be worthy of exploring in a short personality assessment or structured interview.

More about those assessments

Sonya Cowen, Winsborough’s Assessment Director, says "Organisations need to approach people selection with their eyes wide open. The standard contents of a CV - experience, qualifications and achievements - shouldn't be the only factors considered in the selection of an individual."

“Winsborough are experts in assessment for selection and development and a primary method we use to assess individuals is psychometric testing.”

What is psychometric testing?

Simply put, psychometric testing is a repeatable, scientific way of assessing certain cognitive and personality features in a person. It goes a bit deeper than an in-person meeting or interview, and it can uncover some personality aspects that will reveal whether or not a person is a good fit for a certain job or organisational culture.

The two types of psychometric test

There are two main types of psychometric testing that business leaders tend to find useful:

1) Ability-based

Ability-based tests assess cognitive skills, such as your mathematical skills, logical reasoning, and verbal comprehension. These tests can be important for roles that are technical, or that regularly draw on very specific logical skills.

2) Personality-based

Personality-based tests look at the mental and behavioural characteristics of the individual. They provide a snapshot of what other people think of you, and how well you fit within an organisation’s existing culture. These tests also help project what kind of leader you will be — the atmosphere you’ll create when you perform at peak levels, and some weaknesses that can hinder you from reaching your potential.

To learn more about psychometric testing click here