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The Benefits of Psychometrics and Skills Testing in Recruitment

Sales recruitment isn't cheap, yet it's been calculated that a 'wrong hire' costs between 1.75 and 3.75 times the price of the employee's annual salary.  

Poorly made selection decisions can result in lost opportunity, further recruitment costs, extended training and redeployment costs, reduced profile, loss of competitive advantage, damage to image reputation and corporate branding and most importantly, the impact on your other team players.  

Often the 'wrong hire' is caused by a failure in the recruitment process, so it is imperative that you use all of the tools at your disposal to plan and get it right the first time.

Current State of Play

The number of people qualified to administer psychometrics continues to grow as more people obtain certification of competence and qualifications such as the British Psychological Society Level 'A' and Level 'B'.

The availability and accessibility of tests on the Internet and through software have increased absurdly over the past few decades. People can now easily be tested anywhere in the world - however, there are a series of issues that must be considered:

  1. Employers might only consider applicants that have achieved the highest test scores, although those with greater modest abilities may be more appropriate for the job.

  2. There is a risk of cheating using online testing whereby the candidate selects another to undertake the test, or indeed use iPhones, blackberry's or the Internet to aid their case (though the major test providers having researched this feel that it is as low as 5%).

  3. Confidentiality around the test results must be paramount and must not be used for any other purpose and indeed should be held securely to conform to data protection legislation.

  4. Psychometrics should be undertaken in the 'mother tongue' of the person taking the test.

'Fundamental' Part of Recruitment

Psychometric, numerical and verbal reasoning testing is an exceptionally useful aid for recruitment that is increasingly seen as an advantageous way of getting a good 'corporate fit' with new recruits.

Good testing should have standardized methods of administration and scoring so results can be quantified and compared with what others have achieved under the same conditions on the same tests (know as norm groups).

Personality Questionnaires: To Measure or not to Measure, that is the question?

In theory, psychometric questionnaires or personality questionnaires should be used as a pre-interview measure to help you as an employer to be able to highlight focal points that the candidate should be questioned on during the interview. They can even help to offer trigger questions to be used in a follow-up interview - e.g. someone may appear to be a good networker, but their attention to detail might appear to be lacking. As the interviewer, this gives you an area on which to focus your interview questions upon.

In contrast (depending on the nature of the sales vacancy that you are looking to fill), some employers have a greater preference upon going through the first interview process initially and then using the psychometric questionnaire to confirm their impressions and perceptions and to plan and prepare questions before the second interview.

The combination of competency-based interviews and objective assessment techniques (such as personality or psychometric questionnaires) is often the best way of predicting an individual's suitability for a job. However, it should never be forgotten that traditional 'tried and tested' recruitment tools such as interviewing and probing the candidate, talking to references, intuition, and 'gut feeling' are still as valid and important as psychometric methods.

Some may further argue that testing before interviewing can result in a biased judgement by the interviewer. It can be validly argued that taking a personality questionnaire at the end of the process where it influences a hiring decision is not recommended use.  

Therefore, personality questionnaires should be used as part of the recruitment process and not the recruitment process!

European Union Legislation

The influence of European Union Legislation could possibly increase the implications and outcomes that are yet unclear. Currently, membership of the European community allows free movement of labour within the Union. If workers from other EU countries with a different mother tongue or educational standard are required to take tests, this may be viewed as a barrier to the free movement of labour within the EU.

Proof Of Achievements And Goals, Aren't These Of Greater Value?

Some individuals' ability to perform well under pressure during testing is significantly reduced where test scores do not hold true or match up to their full capabilities. Naturally, we all have personal strengths and weaknesses, and testing procedures cannot often measure these.

However, a greater understanding of the candidate may be determined more competently through analysis and reflection of the candidate's previous sales achievements and accomplishments.

Testing Means Nothing Without The Personal Touch

Yes, whilst psychometrics have a valuable role to play, they are most effective when used in conjunction with a competency and biographical interview alongside other exercises to give you a greater insight into the characteristics of the candidate - case studies, team exercises, in-box exercises, etc.

Dangers to be Aware of!

Although there are a significant amount of potential benefits involved in testing, there are eight areas of concern that have been identified:

  1. The Design - Online tests must be tested to ensure that it formats to the same design on the majority of system set-ups and common browsers. Often this means using low-resolution colours and small screen sizes, and the major test providers will have done this for you.
  2. Appropriate or not? - Appropriateness of the test content may be regarded as inappropriate, too complicated, or irrelevant. For instance, testing an individual's knowledge of JavaScript would probably be irrelevant for a person seeking employment in telesales for an insurance company.
  3. Discrimination - The test may be unfair to some candidates due to their sex, disability, race and age. Direct discrimination is always apparent and always illegal; however, indirect discrimination is not always as clear to see. For instance, testing in Imperial Measures could indirectly discriminate against younger candidates and testing in English homonym usage could discriminate against an individual whose 'mother tongue' is not English.
  4. Compare It To The Rest - Tests may be scored incorrectly or become invalid if compared against the wrong 'norm group', for example, comparing the results for a graduate entry role on a 'management norm group' rather than a 'graduate norm group.'
  5. Validation is Everything - A good test provider should be able to prove how the tests offered were designed and validated. A good personality questionnaire should be validated against at least 1,000 plus individuals from the whole range of the working population. This means that they're not cheap but don't be tempted by cheap 'cosmo polls' that will do little to increase your hiring accuracy.
  6. Don't Stop Listing to Your Gut Feeling - Adding psychometrics to your recruitment process will make you a more effective recruiter with solid sales staff. However, psychometrics should form part of the decision-making process and not the decision process. You were given your gut instinct for a reason, and how many times has it served you well! Even if a candidate does brilliantly in all of your tests, if your 'gut' says 'no', then it's probably right! Adopting science into your sales recruitment process is right but don't be too blinded by the science!

To Conclude

Psychometric testing is now a fundamental part of recruitment and is used by over half of the employers in the UK. No longer a pseudo-science, highly validated psychometrics will provide a valuable insight into the potential of new employees and can lessen your hiring risk.  

It may add a few hundred pounds to your recruitment process but could save you tens of thousands of pounds together with a negative impact on your brand, ill-feeling within your team and just general angst!  

Why take the risk of not adopting personality questionnaires, psychometric and skills testing into your sales recruitment process in the long run?

Aaron Wallis provide candidate personality questionnaires and psychometrics such as verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning and analytical reasoning as part of their standard recruitment process. For more information on how we can help to increase your hiring success rates, please call 01908 061400 or visit

Rob Scott, Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment, Author Photo

About the author

Rob Scott

Rob is the Managing Director of Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment, a national recruitment agency specialising in sourcing sales and marketing staff for businesses across a broad range of commercial sectors. Before setting up Aaron Wallis, Rob spent ten years at a specialist Sales and Marketing recruitment division of a £0.5BN recruitment group, leaving in 2007 as Marketing & Sales Director to establish Aaron Wallis.
With over 24 years of experience in sales recruitment, Rob is a History graduate with an MBA (Merit) and a PgCert in Management Practice.  In 2007, 2009 and 2013 Rob conducted the most extensive surveys of sales professionals in the UK and is a trusted authority in the sales industry. From guiding employers through the recruitment process to helping candidates find their dream job, Rob's advice has been quoted in leading publications such as Business Insider and The Independent, as well as OnRec, which host The Online Recruitment Awards every year.

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Our employers say...

Giles Phillips is a rare find in the minefield of sales recruitment; an honest and thoughtful recruiter who considers the needs of both the client AND the candidate to create perfect role matches. I look forward to working with him again in the future.

Marketing Director, City of London Police

Since joining DSGi, Rob has been a supplier of permanent staff and has performed to an extremely high standard, successfully filling 98% of roles he has worked on. If anyone is looking for a good sales and marketing based consultancy with an informal yet professional approach, I would recommend Rob.

Senior Recruitment Consultant, DSG International

We were impressed not only by the quality of candidates you found for us but also the level of information, preparation and qualification you put into the process. You continually kept us informed of each person’s feelings about the process, which is very important but often overlooked. I am looking forward to working with your company again in the future.

Commercial Director, Incentive Facilities Management

Rob is a true recruitment professional that goes the extra mile that I have never experienced from any other recruitment agency before. If you need sales people call Rob or someone in his team, as they really are experts in sales recruitment.

Sales Director, Inside Business

Aaron Wallis has continuously provided us with suitable candidates that have been proactively sourced. Having used countless recruitment companies, Aaron Wallis are the only company that I can count on to deliver.

Managing Director, JARK Healthcare Recruitment

I really liked the YouTube presentations which made the service seem both simple and accessible. The company came to see me, and my management team, at short notice to present their service and I liked the support and advice that I received about maximising the results from the applicant.

Managing Director, Leisuresec plc

Understood the type of person we were looking for and good follow ups - not too frequent.

Managing Director, bigHead Bonding Fasteners Ltd

Rob’s knowledge of the recruitment industry and his thoughts and how to make it better for his clients have always been eye opening. I would recommend Rob to anybody who is looking for a professional, knowledgeable and flexible recruitment specialist.

CEO, Friday Ad Online Services

I have always found Rob to be very knowledgeable about our industry sector, and it is refreshing to see after all of these years that Rob continues to quickly and accurately understand my requirements.

HR and General Manager, THK

Thanks for all your help during the recruitment process. I have been extremely impressed with Aaron Wallis especially when compared to other agencies we have dealt with. I really felt you grasped the type of person we required and found strong candidates.

UK Sales Manager, Nexcom

Giles is highly professional and was a pleasure to work with. He achieves excellent results through his personable skills and tenacity. I have no hesitation in recommending Giles to anyone who considers employing his services.

Commercial Director, G4S Government & Outsourcing Solutions

I found Aaron Wallis to be very professional and efficient, taking time to understand the role and the type of candidate we were looking for. The candidates they put forward met our criteria and were of a high standard. The service they provided was exemplary and I would have no hesitation in recommending them, and will certainly consider using them again in the future.

HR Assistant, Fischer Connectors Ltd

I just wanted to thank you for your help with our recruitment process which went very smoothly and has – we hope – found us just the person for the job!

Managing Director, Citrefine International Ltd

In an industry where people over promise and under deliver, Rob and his teams have consistently provided a high-quality service. It is great to deal with someone that has an excellent understanding of UK industry, and a passion for sales.

Sales Manager, TR Fasteners

We appointed Aaron Wallis in February and the successful candidate, out of the six which Aaron Wallis introduced, was able to join Alphametrics before the end of April. The whole process took less than three months. I would recommend Aaron Wallis' services to others without hesitation.

Chief Financial Officer, Alphametrics

I have used Aaron Wallis to fill a number of our Sales Development Manager roles and I have found them to provide a very professional service. I will use their services again in future recruitment campaigns.

HR Business Partner, Greene King

Our candidates say...

Aaron Wallis helped me secure a position I really wanted. Giles sought to keep me updated with all the details preceding interviews and after with feedback. I would highly recommend Giles and Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment.

L. Taylor, Candidate

Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment are a very friendly and professional recruitment organisation who listen to your needs, work with you and act on your behalf which sets them apart from many of their competitors who in my experience are willing to throw anything at you. We discussed my history, my preferences and my wishes - one opportunity was introduced. It was perfect. I start at the end of June.

R. Buckley, Candidate

Aaron Wallis have provided me with an excellent service, Giles went out of his way to help me preparing for my interview and supported me through all the processes. If you need an agency to give you a fully professional and consultative approach to finding you a new career move, the Aaron Wallis can certainly provide this for you.

D. Richards, Candidate

A great recruitment company to work with. Excellent experience with Aaron Wallis through the entire recruitment process. The team was really professional and extremely helpful. Darren was a pleasure to work with. He was friendly, supportive and gave me great advice. Thank you very much!

A. Bauchet, Candidate

Perfect from start to finish. Simon deserves a shout out. Best recruiter there is. If you need a job, this guy will get you one. He's like the super man of recruiters. Top man, can't recommend him enough.

M. Crisp, Candidate

Fantastic service, helped me find my ideal job quickly and smoothly. Would highly recommend them.

C. Caine, Candidate

Excellent experience from first contact to ultimately securing a suitable placement. Giles looked after me in a very professional and friendly manner. He used his expertise and experience to ensure I was put forward for the most suitable positions for my skill set and found me a new role very quickly. I can't recommend Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment highly enough.

M. Green, Candidate

Excellent service, very professional and friendly, would and have, recommended Aaron Wallis.

E. Heley, Candidate

I have to say coming across and having dealings with Aaron Wallis proved to be very successful. Being highly experienced did not seem to count for much during my job search bit a conversation with Robert Scott gave me a real confidence boost and enabled to get a position at the age of 63. Great service!!!

D. Burgess, Candidate

I've had a really good experience working with Giles Phillips at Aaron Wallis. From initial contact to the finer details of securing the job, he has been very professional and a pleasure to work with.

M. Shutt, Candidate

Fantastic customer service, communication was brilliant, happy polite people to talk to, made everything a lot easier and smoother. Thank you for all your help getting me back in the work force, Keep up the good work :-)

K. Everitt, Candidate

The service provided by Aaron Wallis has been just great. I was constantly informed about what was going on with the process interview and the agent has always been supportive and kind to me.

L. Colagrossi, Candidate

Less than two weeks after joining Aaron Wallis I was offered my new job. I got a £10,000 rise in my basic salary, car allowance, a laptop and many other perks, which will help to further my career. I definitely would not have found my dream job without the help of Aaron Wallis.

C. Hoy, Candidate

Very good advice and support was given during the course of the interviewing process. Potential job seekers would be well advised to use this company whilst looking for their new career.

R. Speakman, Candidate

Aaron Wallis is an outstanding recruitment agency specialising in high calibre sales positions. I was working directly with Darren Dewrance who went above and beyond my expectations in sourcing me my perfect role. I was kept in regular communication with Darren and he worked extremely hard to secure my dream job. Highly recommended and Thanks Darren for all your expertise and hard work.

R. Sealy, Candidate

The Recruitment agent I used, Simon, was extremely helpful and really went the extra mile to ensure all of my questions were answered, and that I felt as comfortable and prepared as possible. Very professional company and would definitely recommend to others. Thank you Aaron Wallis!

A. Callaby, Candidate

I can honestly say that the time and expertise you gave me was way beyond any other recruitment consultant I dealt with. You are a rarity in your industry.

S. Akers, Candidate

Aaron Wallis (and in particular Rob Scott) have been fantastic throughout the recruitment process, and even a few months down the line, still continues to care. Rob clearly cares about each individual and has a wealth of knowledge and expertise, which shows in the work he does. Each candidate is not just a number, and the support received from Aaron Wallis has helped me get a career which I truly enjoy.

M. White, Candidate 

Good swift process with Aaron Wallis, informative regarding the role and the process was moved at a good pace with healthy interaction. Would recommend them to anyone pursuing a change.

S. Bartlett, Candidate

Really excellent experience dealing with Aaron Wallis. Liam Oakes who helped me get a great job was brilliant. Kept me up to date during the process and offered great help and advice, and a thoroughly nice guy. Highly recommended!

J. Hathaway, Candidate