Before attempting to interpret the results of any candidate, it’s important to understand some basics around interpretation of results, and what psychometric reports do and don’t show.
All our reports have been designed to be used by anyone, not just those with training in psychometrics.
Every report has a page dedicated to ensuring users fully understand the background and purpose of that report, how to correctly interpret the results it presents, the conditions of using the report and where further information can be found about the candidate.
There are some general points to consider when interpreting the results of any of our psychometric reports:
- Personality and ability are not fixed they may vary over time, change through practice (for ability tests), training and development, or simply vary depending on the situation the candidate finds themselves in at the time of the test
- Psychometric test results must be kept within the boundaries of confidentiality agreed with the candidate
- Test results must not be used for any purpose other than that agreed with the candidate
- The results must be kept securely and not retained beyond a pre-agreed period
- Psychometric test results should not be used as the only means of deciding whether candidates are fit for a role, but should be considered along with other information before making a selection decision
- Personality questionnaires and ability tests are highly reliable but not infallible
- When it comes to interpreting personality scores there is no right or wrong. The scores do not measure ability, skills, capability or competence. They are merely indications of preferences or typical styles of behaviour
Interpreting personality scales
When taking a Clevry personality questionnaire candidates will be assessed against a number of personality scales. Therefore it’s important to know what each scale is actually measuring before attempting to interpret the score.
Detailed scale descriptions are shown within the platform when creating your questionnaire, and can also be found here.
One way to interpret personality profiles is by reading and thinking about the scales one by one. However, a more sophisticated approach is to consider how a selection of scales might interact and how this will impact the candidate’s behaviour.
For example, if we see an individual with a sten score of 9 on the Direct scale, we can start to make inferences about how their preference might impact their interpersonal behaviour e.g. likely to be candid when voicing opinions rather than adopting a more cautious approach.
While this is interesting on its own, when we pair it with another scale it can lead to much richer insights of that person.
For example, if we can also see that this person has a sten score of 2 on the Listening scale, we now also know that they have a strong preference for talking and place less emphasis on making time to listen to others. Depending on the job role, this might be cause for concern. Whereas, if they had scored an 8 on Listening, we could infer that they see themselves as someone who takes time to consider the opinions of others. So, whilst they are direct when voicing their opinions, they are likely to have taken time to listen to others first.
As you continue to add scores to your thinking or ‘daisy-chain’ the scales you can build up hypotheses about a candidate that you can then ‘check-out’ in the exploration discussion. The hypotheses would vary depending on the role but examples could include how the scales interact to impact on customer service style, or project planning etc. This method can take some practise but is a rewarding way to utilise the data.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Intelligence scale
This scale is not a measure of intelligence or ability. Users who are familiar with the 16PF should not conflate the CPQ Intelligence scale with Cattell’s Reasoning factor. The CPQ Intelligence scale measures the individual’s values for working within a culture that includes intelligent, academically or professionally well-qualified people.
What is a STEN score?
The results for some psychometric assessments will be displayed as ‘sten scores’. STEN scores (aka “Standard Tens”) divide a given scale into ten standardised units. In simple terms, you can think of them as “scores out of ten”.
An important point to remember with sten scores in general is if there is some accompanying text, make sure to read it carefully as this will shed further insight into what the score means for that specific scale or test.
The sten range describes the strength of preference indicated by the candidate’s responses compared to the norm group. The higher or lower the sten score (towards either end of the dichotomy) the stronger the tendency expressed towards the corresponding side of the scale.
Scores of 5 or 6 indicate that the individual sees themselves as typical in this area compared to others Or the individual’s personality in this area varies a great deal on the situation.
Scores of 7, 8, 9 and 10 suggest a progressively stronger tendency towards the high end of the scale, with 7 only suggesting a slight tendency.
Scores of 4, 3, 2 and 1 suggest a progressively stronger tendency towards the low end of the scale, with 4 only suggesting a slight tendency.
The sten score range indicates how well the candidate performed, compared to the norm group. Scores of 1 and 2 indicate a low overall performance.
Scores of 3 and 4 indicate below average, and slightly below average performance.
Scores of 5 and 6 indicate an average performance.
Scores of 7 and 8 indicate a slightly above average, and well above average performance. Scores of 9 and 10 indicate an outstanding performance.
The most important thing to remember when interpreting sten scores is that they represent a candidate’s preferences compared to a norm group. Whether this is a general or specific norm group, may change a candidate’s sten score as they are being compared to a different population of previous candidates. This doesn’t mean their preferences have changed, but simply that when compared to a different group, their traits or ability are more or less common.
When interpreting sten scores, remember to read any accompanying text carefully as it will shed light on what the score means in that particular context.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Standard error of measurement
The standard error of measurement (SEM) provides an estimate of the margin of error included in scores produced by a scale, as no scale can ever be 100% accurate in reflecting a true score. By taking the potential margin of error into account, we can more accurately interpret sten scores.
A rule of thumb for the CPQ is to allow a margin of 1 sten either side of the observed sten score. Many CPQ scales have a lower margin of error than this, so making a 1 sten range is a safe convention for accurate interpretation for the instrument.
Best practice tips
The ethical use of personality questionnaires, whether for selection or development, extends to providing feedback of results to all those who want it. Therefore in an ideal world, feedback would be offered to all respondents of a PQ.
For more information on how to conduct an exploration discussion please read our blog post ‘Discussing assessment results with candidates’.
For both remote and supervised modes of administration (but particularly remote) you should follow up the results of the assessment and corroborate them with further information relating to each respondent’s results. The most effective and valuable source of corroboration is the feedback discussion. No hiring decision should be made solely on the results of psychometric personality assessment.
Verifying ability test results
It is good practice to verify a candidate's ability test results at a later stage of the selection process using the my.clevry verification feature.