How Does Psychometric Assessment Work?

May 2021 (1)

Anytime we champion someone who is ‘at the top of their game’ or observe a competition between people we are focused on individual differences. What makes someone stand out from the crowd? Likely we might admire their perseverance, their grit, their superior problem solving skills or their ability to influence and inspire others.

In this way psychometric assessment can be focused on identifying and understanding the individual differences in thinking, relating with the others or remaining focused on goals that may predict someone’s performance compared to others.

What is Psychometric Assessment?

Psycho, from psyche, can be defined as the centre of thought, emotion, and behaviour in an individual.

Metric is to measure.

Therefore, lets think of psychometric assessment as the measurement of an individual’s thoughts, emotions and behaviours. Although we might also extend this to include intelligence and ability.

So How Does Psychometric Assessment Work?

When we measure something we are naturally making a comparison against a standard measure (e.g. length) or a relative measure (e.g. between two people). Therefore, when understanding individual differences, we need to have a standard measure from which we can make comparisons.

Getting a ‘Standard Measure’:

There are many stages to creating a measure but to keep things simple at the moment:

  1. First of all, trained psychologists carefully develop assessments or tests which measure a particular ability, thought, emotion or behaviour (e.g. determination).

  2. Hundreds, often thousands, of people are invited to complete the assessment or test so we can learn what an ‘average’ score is, as well as scores that are above or below this average.

  3. After this process we can have confidence that ‘most people’ will score within a particular range (the average) whilst other people will score above or below this range.

  4. We then compare these scores to actual behaviour or performance to make sure that someone’s score can accurately predict differences in how two people might perform a task or demonstrate a behaviour. ​

Applying a ‘Standard Measure’ (a Psychometric Assessment)

A feature of a standard measure is that everyone can complete the same assessment or test without it changing. To make use of a standard measure psychologists can then:

  1. Invite someone to complete the pre-tested and proven measure (e.g. a candidate)

  2. Compare their scores on the measure to the scores of hundreds or thousands who have completed the assessment before

  3. Rank that person’s score compared to the past assessment or test results of others

  4. This ranking allows us to say whether someone is ‘average’ and typical of most people, or whether they are different in some way and what thoughts, emotions or behaviours we might expect to observe in this person as a result.

This approach to developing and applying a standard measure (or a psychometric assessment) allows us to identify and predict how someone is likely to perform and make comparisons between people.

This tool is invaluable when seeking to select candidates, identify leadership potential, or coach people around where they are likely to have strengths or weaknesses compared to other people.

If being able to understand individual differences and predict future performance would make a difference to your hiring or people processes, reach out to understand more on 1300 664 305 or at​

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