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You may have recently heard Jack Hammer’s fabulous COO, Advaita Naidoo speaking on Cape Talk about psychometric assessments. Listening avidly, I was pushed to finish writing this blog which has had far too many edits and versions to count.

If you know me, you probably know about my ‘strained relationship’ with psychometric assessments – you may have heard me tell the story about how I almost didn’t get my first job out of varsity because the assessment said that it was unlikely I would last a week in the job. After more than a decade, I think it is safe to say I proved that wrong.

Now, let me just state this: I know there is very real value in assessment tools, so I have spent a few years working on my ‘personal wound’ in the one way that works for me – through research and testing. I would never say I understand it all, I am not a psychometrist and would never profess to have the answers. In fact, I still have many questions, but this is what I can tell you:

1. Holistic:
Psychometric assessments definitely have their place, as part of a HOLISTIC process both in recruitment decision-making and in the further development of talent. Holistic is the key word, because it should never be used in isolation without supporting evidence from actual track record and references.

2. References:
If you don’t also use the additional, hugely valuable and insightful, data point of references, you’re missing out on a key element. Referencing will provide you with the much needed context to balance the assessment results, and in many cases can either support or override the assessment data.

3. Professional Feedback:
Do not overlook this! Assessment feedback must be given by a reputable professional. Please don’t ever decide you can interpret and understand the results, unless you have proper training and expertise.

At the heart of my internal debate, is the following: For the most part, psychometric assessments are intended to show the inherent qualities, traits and aptitudes of individuals. The question I ponder is whether these are definitive, closed, and set in stone….or whether people are capable of learning new behaviours, changing their previously learned (or innate) ways of being, developing new functional capabilities, or acquiring toolkits to enhance undeveloped character traits.
My view, without a doubt, is YES!

So, go for it with the assessments. They’re useful and add value. But they’re not (yet) a perfect science, and given the right context, tools and developmental support, people are capable of much more than assessments may suggest. On that point, I’m yet to be proven wrong!

Michelle Bedford-Shaw

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