Tripod tests in HR assessment projects: What's in for you?

30. märts 2017

Our good partner People Link is actively distributing Tripod tests in Lithuania. What's in for the companies and candidates, the Consultant Rimgailė Samušytė from People Link asked. Tripod Psychologist Liisa Raudsepp was providing answers. 

Rimgailė: Liisa, You have been working with Assessment projects and test trainings for more than six years. So first of all, how would you explain the Assessment for those who have never dealt with it?

  • Liisa: I would say that whenever you’re dealing with people your decisions are always subjective, at least a bit. And that’s the value of professional psychometric assessment - it’s will bring more objectivity to your decisions. Especially when you’re hiring someone for a high-responsibility position it should be done quite rationally. You need to think through step by step your expectations, the demands, job tasks and sort out what you need to assess in order to find the best candidate. When you’re using well validated quality instruments, you can get more objective data for your final decision.

 For what purposes could the tests be used and why is it beneficial for the companies?

  • The tests are mostly being used for recruitment and choosing the best candidates, but they can also be used internally: to assess internal candidates or to find talents inside the company, for promotion or career counselling inside the company. Also for putting together a competitive team or solving problems in a team. So there are actually very many ways to use the tests beneficially and if you use test for recruitment you can use the same results for other purposes later on as well.

 You mentioned that recruitment is the most widespread reason for using tests. So talking about it,  from your experience, what might be the risks in the recruitment process? In what way is the testing advantageous for it?

  • The biggest risk is unrealistic expectations which start from describing the expectations inadequately. Sometimes almost everything is expected from one person on maximum level which is not possible. So the expectations need to be realistic and assessment help you to compare new candidates with those who are already working in your company. If you know your best performers and their personality personality profile or intelligence level then you can compare the candidates with the best performers. So you can predict their performance better.

 With what kind of questions do the clients come to you? Why do they choose to do the assessments or take the trainings?

  • I start from assessment, because this is how we usually start the client relationship. First of all, when someone has reached their final candidates and they can’t make the decision because the candidates seem so equal, then an assessment is ordered from us and it usually helps to find some small nuances which make a difference between candidates.
  • The other need is need for objectivity and need to give evidence for your decisions. You can’t just give evidence based on gut feeling. So the tests give you numbers, they give you standardized and well described scales and it gives you lots of information which is neutral and being compared to the national norms. The results enable you to give evidence. This is really needed sometimes when you need to give reasons why you prefer one candidate to another.
  • When HR specialists come to the test training, they are usually already sure that they need the tests and that tests are going to be useful for them. In Estonia a great deal of big companies and state agencies are using Tripod tests for recruitment and selection.

 You mentioned that the tests help find small differences between candidates that you might not find during the interview. So could you give an example from your own experience?

  • I think that the strongest argument most often is the unexpected difference in intelligence test results. Sometimes people have a charming personality, but if the job also requires independent thinking and an analytical mind, then IQ is a very strong predictor of that kind of performance and usually it cannot be detected from communication at the interview. This is where the tests are particularly useful.
  • There are some companies who use only one test and usually it would be the intelligence test. But of course it is usually better to use a combination of tests because then you get more information from the start.

 What are the most common mistakes during candidate assessment? How to avoid them?

  • The first question is how you choose the testing instruments. Whether you just pick the first test from internet or you try to find evidence about the reliability and validity of a test. Is the test based on a sound theory? What does it predict? What is the evidence about the test’s quality? One should always have a proper qualification (training, licence, certificate) to administer a test.
  • I think the most common mistakes about administering the tests are related to ignoring the standardised conditions for taking tests – that may lead to less valid test results.
  • Third, the whole testing process should be transparent, so that the test-taker can give an informed consent to participate in testing. The candidate should always get feedback about their test results.

 Some candidates, or hiring managers complain about a lengthy recruitment process, so what is in there for them, having this one additional step?

  • There is a choice: either to invest into a more thorough process and make a more informed decision about a candidate or have a shorter process, but risk hiring an unsuitable candidate. Usually it is much more costly to hire someone, invest into his/her training and mentoring and then discover a misfit and start it all over. It’s always better to invest into this beginning of this relationship with a new employer. I would say that tests would actually save time because I there are no other methods which would help you to assess intelligence and personality so fast and reliably.
  • Intelligence and personality are basic human characteristics that have a huge impact on one's job performance. Tests enable to measure these characteristics in a compact and comparable way. A counterargument might be the cost of tests and also a need for competent interpretation.

 What do you think what kind of ideas do the candidates get when they’re in a process where there’s testing?

  • I was just recently talking to a HR manager from a bank and she was telling me about the way how they gave feedback to their candidates. For them it’s important that this feedback is given in a professional and caring manner. The candidates really feel that they receive something out of this process. Even if they are not hired they will spread a good word about this fantastic employer who gave them such an interesting feedback about their psychological profile, maybe even gave them some new ideas where they could actually apply. So I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to use this feedback for showing your company in a positive light.

 What is the usual reaction, both from the candidate and the manager after the results?

  • From the candidates it’s usually “oh, it’s really me”. They usually confirm the results, some of them are amazed how much can be read about them and how true it can be. Some of them are maybe a bit surprised, they get something new about themselves. A few of them would object, but it really happens very rarely.
  • The managers usually say something like: “oh yes, this is exactly what I felt but I didn’t know how to explain it”. And when they get the profile and explanations,  they usually feel that it confirms their gut feeling.
  • Sometimes it happens that there are surprises, especially when there was some favorite candidate who turned out to not perform so well, and then of course sometimes the managers feel disappointed. But in the end they say “better I get to know this now and not later”.
  • I have also been regularly asking for feedback from our test users, the HR professionals, during test seminars for advanced users. Most of them find tests to be be very useful in their work. They say: “That’s why I keep coming back and prolonging my license, because I can see this added value about the tests which I can present to my manager.” And recently in a big governmental institute the department manager told the HR manager that they need to use more tests. It was an initiative from the manager to get better quality in people decision making.