Posted on: 4/4/2023

Context & Care

The Key to Effective Psychometric Assessments


The use of psychometric assessments in hiring or for development purposes has been long established – but how can they be most effective?

When we utilise psychometric assessments, my mantra to clients is ‘Care & Context’. If assessments are put in context and handled with care, they can be extremely powerful to support hiring processes and to use as a starting point for effective coaching and development programmes.


Context is king

Delivering a psychometric assessment with no context around the role an individual is seeking or the organisation they are operating in is nearly pointless. Likewise, delivering the results of an assessment in isolation is close to dangerous – they should always be combined with ‘human’ insight, interviews, and in certain cases, peer reviews.

Let’s dig into this. At SRI we utilise Hogan – specifically their 3-pronged suite of assessments to measure HPI, HDS, and MVPI. Broadly, the HPI looks at the Bright side – how an individual tends to show up and approach challenges. The HDS looks at the Dark side – what the potential derailers are when behaviour is not being monitored. And MVPI evaluates motives, values and preferences that an individual may prioritise – what environment they will thrive in or seek to drive.

The first step is determining and communicating the context. Why are you doing this assessment? Is it for selection? Employee development? What areas are you seeking to validate in the context of your organization, the role, or potential career trajectory?

Whatever psychometric tool you utilise will spit out lots of statements, lots of scores, and lots of pages of reporting! The reporting can often be clunky or even make contradictory statements (they are, of course, ‘computer generated’). This is where you need experienced, accredited practitioners to analsye the results, combine the results with interview assessments, and apply all of these outputs to the context.

Are you seeking an innovative thinker and ideas generator, or do you need an operator? Are you seeking an individual capable of having hard conversations or one who will focus relentlessly on building morale? Experienced practitioners can dig under and around the scoring to uncover the reality.

For example, I once spoke to an individual who displayed low sociability scoring which suggested they may be uncomfortable in large groups. Yet they regularly delivered inspiring town hall meetings, presented at conferences, and was an effective networker. They had learned to adapt their style and had done it successfully, yet they admitted it was not a natural preference. The assessment highlighted an underlying trait, and the interview uncovered the effective strategies they had developed to enhance their capability in this area. In hiring particularly, the assessments can be incredibly powerful as you come to final interviews – helping you to probe and dig deeper in certain areas that are essential to role success and organisational values ‘fit’.


Handle with care

Many participants feel ‘subjected’ to these assessments, and others embrace them and gleefully take on the feedback, warts and all. But either way, de-briefs for the participants are absolutely essential. In my career of delivering assessments, I can recall a few de-brief sessions where the individual had a somewhat allergic reaction to the feedback, and indeed this served to confirm some less-than-agreeable traits that were highlighted within it.

Fortunately, the majority are positive, with individuals taking on feedback and actively seeking ways to play to their strengths or moderate behaviour to be even more effective leaders. The feedback session is yet another window into the attitudes and traits of an individual and how they operate.

At SRI, while we do share full reporting, we first start with an ‘in context’ summary report that blends all aspects of the assessments into one, highlighting where certain results may outweigh others and where certain traits will be beneficial or potentially harmful to the organisation. We dig deep to validate with the participant their propensity to adapt and understand where underlying traits may or may not serve them well.

Ultimately, psychometric testing is a development tool, even when part of a hiring process. Assessments can provide potent insight to aid onboarding and ultimately accelerate the success of an individual. It’s a tool and a starting point for development, and the feedback, delivered by a real life human, further turbo charges their relevance and effectiveness.


Helen Soulsby

Managing Director, Global Consulting