The advantages are:
- Properly developed psychometric tests and questionnaires, when used by competent and appropriately qualified individuals, have the following advantages:
- They lead to judgments that are likely to be more valid than judgments made by other means. This is the most important advantage of psychometric assessment.
- They are relatively cheap and easy to administer when compared to other approaches. For example, although it may seem relatively expensive for a company to pay for its staff to become qualified in psychometric assessment and then on top of this to pay for the cost of the testing itself, these costs pale into insignificance when one considers just how long it would take to obtain the same information about a person. At the risk of putting it simplistically, it could be argued that the information obtained from a good personality questionnaire might take several months of knowing and working with a person to obtain by other means.
- They are likely to lead to considerable cost-benefits in the long term. Whether it is for selection of new staff or development of existing staff, the expenses involved in psychometric assessment are minimal when compared with the costs of high-turn over, under-performance or misemployment of staff.
The disadvantages are:
- There are numerous tests and questionnaires on the market which purport to be ‘psychometric instruments’ but which are not. Unfortunately, it is very difficult for untrained people to distinguish these from good psychometric instruments. In many cases, these tests and questionnaires have been put together by people with no background in psychometrics and they have very little actual utility and value for the purposes for which they are marketed.
- Lack of correct training is also a significant danger in the use of psychometric testing. Although there exists in the UK a training qualification system developed by the British Psychological Society, it is not uncommon for tests to be used by people who are not adequately trained to use them. Indeed, even attendance at a recognized training course is no guarantee that a person will at all times use tests and questionnaires correctly since some instruments, particularly personality questionnaires, require considerable experience and the possibility of misinterpretation or inappropriate interpretation of results is ever-present.
- It is the use of personality questionnaires to try to assess a person’s ability or skill in a particular area. eg, if a person scores highly on a personality dimension called ‘Leadership’, this does not mean that he or she will actually possess a high level of leadership skill. Rather it means that the person has the basic personality characteristics that are commonly found amongst effective leaders and, with sufficient experience and given the development of certain necessary skills, has the potential to become an effective leader. Unfortunately however, scores on scales such as this are often taken to imply that the person already has all the necessary skills and is already capable of performing at a high level in the area in question.