Human Resources South Africa

How can psychometric testing be useful to us in industry?

How can psychometric testing be useful to us in industry?

November 09
14:35 2010

A South African challenge in psychometric assessment

There are various factors that have placed a greater emphasis on effective selection and development of human resources in a South African context. These factors range from unemployment and equity considerations to rapid occupational change due to technological advancements. This has led to a greater demand on psychological assessment in the organisational setting and by doing so ensuring a significant value is put on assessment that is responsible, ethical and equitable.

Testing in South Africa was for long time viewed in the past as discriminatory and unfair but the perception of psychometric assessment is slowly changing. Sound assessment is extremely useful for the use of measuring individuals and practitioners are becoming aware of its advantages. The improvements of these psychometric tests have led to the implementation of cross-culturally fair tests. Psychometric assessment in the workplace is used to measure the performance and potential of current and future employees through the use of selection and performance management respectively.

In the present the South African business sector faces multiple challenges in respect to the use psychological test, adaptation and development. There are various challenges that practitioners have to face including ethical and legal issues in psychological assessment. Legal issues include changes in the legislation i.e. the South African Employement Equity Act 55 of 1998 and a labour market that is transforming after 1994. There is a greater emphasis put significance of appropriate psychometric properties for psychological testing and the importance that is placed on the validity and equity in these assessments.

The Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998, Section 8 states that ‘Psychological tests and other similar assessments are prohibited unless test or assessment used (a) scientifically shown as reliable and valid (b) can be applied fairly to all employees; and (c) is not biased against any employee and group’.

Due to the act there are various challenges that are unique for South African companies. One of the challenges for organisations is that of employee selection and the testing of candidates during the selection process. The act requires that psychometric testing used for organisational selection of candidates that are potential employees to be shown as valid and reliable. Organisations need to make reliability and validity a prerequisite for fairness in the selection of future employees.

In South Africa where the country is extremely multi cultural organiations need to pay careful attention to the instruments that they use during the selection process, as even though the test may be valid for one group of individuals it is not valid for another group. Reliability varies across different groups of culture and the organisations needs to make sure that the psychometric testing does not hinder the performance of certain groups. In order to arrive at a fair and equitable assessment, psychological tests are normally not used in isolation but they are used as part of an extensive assessment arsenal.

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  1. Oliver Savill
    Oliver Savill November 23, 17:19

    I can see why psychometric testing is so popular with recruiters; it offers a quick, objective administration-light time-saving selection tool. This has contributed to a large uptake in psychometric testing as a sifting tool which is effective at focusing efforts of HR staff when they have hundreds of applications to consider, but is it fair on the job applicant and is it accurate? There are many reasons why one job applicant may score better than another and the ‘perfect’ ability test will not be susceptible to these variances but unfortunately this sifting approach can necessarily discount suitable applicants. For now though I think we will see an increase in the use of psychometric testing.

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    • Admin
      Admin Author April 22, 11:15

      Would you rather only be subjective to the discretion of one interviewer for a job? The only the way to improve is to continuously update these tests and measure them throughout a new recruit job in order to see how successful the psychometric testing is.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Douglas O.
    Douglas O. January 27, 17:34


    Great website! I think there are many valuable information and advices here. Along the same line, I came across the following website which I found interesting. Traditionally, personality tests such as MBTI have been used as career aptitude test. However, these tests have a very limited scope as they ignore many important factors such as person’s skills, values, and interests.

    There have been many advancements in the area of career aptitude testing. Usage of artificial intelligence to evaluate suitability of a job for a person is one of the these techniques. You can take a complete version of the MBTI personality test plus many others such as memory, IQ, problem solving, and patience tests in OptYourLife. This website’s expert system tries to find the most suitable career path for you using neural network. Moreover, salary of different careers will be considered in the final analysis to provide a more insightful advice for you:

    http://www.optyourlife [dot] com/


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