Sourcing Talent with Psychometric Tech or is it Voodoo Science?

keep_calm_it_just_worksMost of us are all too familiar with the classic interview scenario: the suit, the well-rehearsed answers, and the nerve-wracking feeling that bad chemistry or a wrong answer could blow the whole thing. It’s an intimidating process for sure, which many wish was far less so.

Well now, thanks to technology, possibly – it maybe at some point. In some ways at least!

To make a preliminary assessment, recruiters and potential employers will often check out your website, LinkedIn profile, and Facebook page before even contacting you. If, after this, you make it to the interview stage, you might not even need to leave home. According to the 2014 Cisco Connected World Technology Report, over half (58 percent) of HR professionals surveyed said they’d be willing to hire a qualified job candidate after interviewing via video conferencing (although less than half said they’d do this for a management position).

But people present a marketed version of themselves online, which — particularly when combined with a virtual interview – may not provide recruiters and employers with enough information. To get around this says Yuki Noguchi, there’s also a tech solution.

“Tests for intelligence and personality traits have been around for a century,” said Noguchi In a recent NPR segment (Recruiting Better Talent With Brain Games and Big Data). “But with big data and the technology to conduct more nuanced tests, some firms claim they can provide more useful detail about people’s innate abilities. They say a better gauge of personality traits can help increase productivity and reduce turnover.”

Though the concepts ‘seem’ impressive, these tests are still largely unproven and independent research is scarce. However, their creators say they work, and can help discover what a person is best suited for. Frida Polli, co-founder of Pymetrics, said her company’s tests utilize brain games to measure things like attention to detail and risk tolerance, which she claims can help determine a good job fit. And, she insists, test results have been accurate.

Another company featured in the segment, Knack, tries to tap into a candidate’s subconscious by tracking the way he or she plays play games on a cell phone (e.g., level of intensity and challenge); Gameplay correlates with how people think and work, claims founder and CEO Guy Halfteck.

A third company interviewed also said the tests work and, as a result, is now hiring talent (and retaining it) from places it might have overlooked. These tests, created by Roundpegg, ask users to select values that are most and least important to them.

What is certain is, that the science is still has a long way to go on proving the veracity and value of these ‘tests’ and a lot more independent research is needed before organizations start investing in this direction.

As a side note, if you’re looking for some career direction and advice, check out the latest version of What Color Is Your Parachute?, the classic job hunter’s manual that has aced its own test — the test of time.

Thanks to George H.W. Bush for the paraphrase of his immortal line in the 1980 Presidential Campaign: “Voodoo Economic Policy”

Please feel free to share and comment… Thanks Nick

Nick Roylemsi