The Science behind psychometric tests

Hiring the right talent is crucial for business success, and psychometric tests are the most effective way to achieve this. Applying psychometric tests to your hiring process lets you get deeper insights into your applicants’ job-critical competencies and make better hiring decisions. In this article, we dive into the science behind Clevry’s psychometric tests and how they are built.

What are psychometric tests?

Psychometrics is the scientific study of the measurement of human abilities, attitudes, and traits. Psychometric tests provide a standardised way of evaluating candidates’ cognitive abilities, personality traits, behavioural style and work preferences, ensuring a better job fit and decreasing the chance of a bad hire. Psychometric tests enable you to delve into competencies and attributes not evident on a CV or a resume.

Designing a psychometric test

Clevry’s psychometric test design involves a multi-step process that combines job analysis and research into job-relevant personality traits, statistical analysis and practical application.  

  1. Defining the Objective: The first step is determining what the test is meant to measure. This could be personality traits, aptitudes, skills, or other attributes. The attributes measured in the Clevry personality questionnaire are all occupationally focused. 

  1. Rationale of the questionnaire: The scales that comprise the scales library are rationally derived. The scales’ names and definitions result from a rational study into the essential aspects of personality in the workplace. The scales in our scales library are all designed to measure single traits. The narrow definition of the scales allows for more precise and accurate measurement and interpretation of individual differences between candidates. 

  1. Item Generation: The next stage of development involved generating a cluster of items measuring each scale. A total of 40-50 items were generated for each scale. These items have to meet a number of specific criteria, ensuring the instrument meets the high standards established for it. 

  1. Pilot Testing: The initial set of items is tested on a small group, which helps identify potential issues with the test items, such as ambiguity or bias. 

  1. Statistical Analysis: The data is analyzed using statistical methods after pilot testing. These methods include checking the test’s reliability (consistency) and validity (accuracy).  

  1. Standardisation: The test is administered to a larger, representative sample to establish norms. These norms help interpret the test scores by providing a frame of reference. 

  1. Reliability and Validity Assessment: “One of the key markers of a good psychometric test is high reliability and validity“, says Preeya Patel, a Senior Business Psychologist at Clevry. Continually assessing the test’s reliability and validity is crucial. This includes ensuring that the test consistently measures what it’s intended to over time and across different groups. 

  1. Culturally free language adoption: All Clevry assessments use culturally free language to avoid ambiguity and bias. The items are worded in business English and use language that can be easily understood by anyone using English in the workplace. The items avoid the use of colloquialisms, clichés, complex clauses and any other terms that may discriminate against groups. 

  1. Regular Updating and Review: Our psychometric tests are regularly reviewed and updated to reflect new research findings, societal norms changes, or developments in job-relevant personality traits.

  1. Legal and Ethical Considerations: Compliance with legal standards and ethical guidelines is crucial in test development, especially regarding privacy, consent, and fairness. 

“One of the key markers of a good psychometric test is high reliability and validity”

Preeya Patel – Senior Business Psychologist at Clevry

How are the candidates being compared?

All tests on the Clevry assessment platform are ‘norm-referenced’. This means that a candidate’s score on a particular test is compared with a group of people who have taken that test before – this group is referred to as the norm group.

Comparisons to the norm group are used to convert ‘raw’ test scores (unaltered data) to normed scores to more accurately interpret results and give them meaning. Normed scores for the assessments are expressed in Stens, a type of standard scoring system.

The Clevry online platform allows you to choose from various comparison groups which norm group you would like to use for your test needs.

Clevry’s norm groups are reviewed regularly to ensure they are up to date, following best practice guidelines from the British Psychological Society and the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations. Norm groups updated within the last ten years are considered Excellent standards, and at Clevry, we are proud to uphold such standards.

What can you measure on the Clevry platform

Clevry’s suite of assessments encompasses a range of ability tests, personality questionnaires and situational judgement tests. These tools are finely tuned to evaluate various aspects of a candidate’s potential, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of their capabilities.

View the output from Clevry assessments by downloading sample reports below.

Assessing cognitive abilities

Cognitive ability tests objectively measure an individual’s performance on different work-related tasks or situations. Ability tests provide employers with an indication of how people will perform in a work setting and are frequently used to decide whether a candidate has the baseline mental ‘firepower’ necessary to be successful in the role. Clevry ability tests are available in different degrees of difficulty.

Verbal Ability Test 

A verbal ability test is ideal for roles where candidates must comprehend, analyze, and draw conclusions from written information. Verbal tests present a paragraph of text about a given topic; candidates must then decide if a series of statements are true, false, or cannot be said by evaluating the information under timed conditions.

Numerical ability test

Numerical ability tests are designed for roles where candidates must be comfortable with numbers, mathematical functions and interpreting data. Candidates use number-based reference material to answer multiple-choice questions involving basic arithmetic, averages, percentages and ratios. Tests are timed, and candidates can use a calculator throughout.

Checking Test

Checking test is well-suited for roles requiring attention to detail, spotting errors in different materials or inputting data. The test uses multiple-choice questions under timed conditions to see whether candidates can quickly and accurately find the errors between two pieces of reference material.

Abstract Reasoning

Abstract reasoning test assesses candidates’ ability to deal with complex data and identify patterns, trends, and rules to solve logical problems. Sometimes known as inductive or diagrammatic reasoning tests, the tests are non-verbal and adopt a multiple-choice format under timed conditions. Candidates are presented with a series of shapes or patterns and asked to deduce what comes next or what is missing.

Mechanical Reasoning

The mechanical reasoning test is for roles where candidates must work with and understand mechanical or technical concepts. The test uses a multiple-choice format under timed conditions. The candidates are presented with images including gears, pulleys and circuits and will use mechanical reasoning skills to deduce what will happen in the picture.

Accessibility of ability tests

Clevry assessments use a “power test” philosophy, meaning candidates answer increasingly difficult questions, with fair time limits. This minimises demands on reading speeds and processing time, a common source of test bias on those who read or process more slowly than others (for example, candidates for whom English is not their first language, have visual conditions, or a form of dyslexia/dyspraxia). Our assessments measure underlying abilities, uncontaminated by reading/processing speed.

We also comply with UK DDA requirements to ensure maximum accessibility for respondents. The Clevry candidate interface conforms to level “Double-A” of the W3C accessibility guidelines. This means all fonts are resizable and fully compatible for users with accessibility devices such as screen readers and refreshable Braille. Users can also change the contrast of the screen and background colour of the assessments, and test timers can be adjusted for candidates who may need increased time limits.

Assessing personality

The Clevry Personality Questionnaire is unlike anything else on the market. Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, our assessments offer unparalleled flexibility by allowing you to pick and choose the elements you want to measure from our scale library of 46 scales split across five key areas of personality at work. These elements are:

Interpersonal Style – The candidate’s approach to working with others, tapping into their communication style and preferences for working around others.

Thinking Style – The candidate’s approach to tasks, decisions and challenges.

Emotional Style – The candidate’s reaction to the emotional demands of the role.

Motivations – Understanding what drives the candidate and helps them to feel energized and motivated at work.

Culture Fit – Understanding the style of environment best suited to the candidate.

Our easy-to-use questionnaire builder enables you to create a bespoke questionnaire in minutes, or alternatively, you can use one of our role-specific off-the-shelf questionnaires for the most common job roles. All Clevry assessments are fully responsive across multiple platforms, including desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Situational Judgement tests

Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs) allow recruiters to see how candidates will behave in their roles. When taking a Situational judgment test, respondents will be presented with several hypothetical workplace scenarios; candidates will then be asked to respond most appropriately to the situation.

Situational judgment tests have high face validity and excellent candidate engagement, meaning they are great for indicating fit with a role and future job performance. SJTs give recruiters insight into a candidate’s decision-making style and approach while providing a more realistic job preview. Clevry offers SJTs for various roles, from contact centre and warehouse operative assessments to leadership SJTs.

Got questions about Clevry assessments or the platform? Get in touch, and one of the team is happy to assist you.


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