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Who do psychometric tools really serve?

If you’re reading this you either have accreditation/qualification to use psychometric tools or you don’t.

If you do then the chances are that you’ve chosen tools that appeal to you philosophically &/or for their application.  You may believe in their efficacy; their appropriateness for your purpose; their recognition in the market.  Perhaps their uniqueness or novelty appeals to you. Perhaps they even have a commercial appeal.

So how do you know which psychometric tool suits your client and their needs best?

If you don’t have a broad suite of tools to use, then in coaching terms are you at risk of forcing your agenda on the client? Your preference, your bias, your limitations?

Unless the client has deep knowledge of such tools, then the chances are that they are not better informed than you, so who will inform them of which tool(s) suits their needs best?

If you don’t have accreditation/qualification to use psychometric tools then how do you know which psychometric is most appropriate?

My point is not to say that psychometric tools have no value or don’t serve us well.  Rather I’d encourage greater thought by commissioners and practitioners on why a particular tool is being used.  How is it in the best service of the client?

What do you think? How do you decide?


10 thoughts on “Who do psychometric tools really serve?

  1. The challenge here is that once qualified in a psychometric, you need to maintain your knowledge of the tool by using it regularly. Once you stop using it, you start to let go of important pieces of feedback to the client. Also, training in psychometric tools is expensive, so most people will only be trained in two maybe three tools. These factors present real challenges to knowing what to advise clients is the better tool.


    Posted by Sukh Pabial | September 25, 2012, 10:02 AM
  2. A great observation Sukh – the practitioner through essential practice and the cost of training becomes wed to their tools. If the practitioner can do nothing else, then is it buyer beware (actually buyer become aware)? Feels like a systemic issue somewhere…


    Posted by David Goddin | September 25, 2012, 4:37 PM
  3. They best serve the person who sold ’em to you, that’s who.


    Posted by Doug Shaw | September 25, 2012, 7:24 PM
  4. I can relate to the thought that the level of practise of using the tool might lead to bias in choice, I do believe the greatest danger is those that use instruments for a purpose that they were not intended for.

    Some real horror stories of people using type based instruments for recruitment, and people with little training using instruments and giving incorrect interpretation is more worrying.


    Posted by Ian Perry | September 25, 2012, 9:24 PM
    • Agree fully Ian in terms of deliberate misuse being more worrisome. Yet I think those poor practitioners are most easily weeded out of the market through natural selection… misuse tends to create some level of disturbance which educates clients and hey presto they don’t get used again. In the corporate space I think this process is much quicker than perhaps the SME market say.

      But in itself, could that process of naturally weeding out poor practice leave us all somewhat complacent in terms of the question raised here? Do practitioners think they have nothing to worry about because they are qualified and don’t misuse the instruments as you’ve described?


      Posted by David Goddin | September 25, 2012, 9:42 PM
  5. For me, psychometrics can serve us as practitioners – another qualification, a piece of paper saying we have earned our place somewhere. I have been in some very sniffy conversations with freelancers who see their tool-of-choice as being fairly definitive ( I SO love those conversations.. heh heh heh).

    I believe, if well used as a source for discussion, debate and exploration in a team, tools such as MBTI can generate insights and language which can aid the flow of understanding.. and the success is all in the framing – all about encouraging individuals to hold their “results” lightly and be curious about what the other side looks like. I wonder how many times a psychometric is offered this way, rather than as a means to label and “improve”?

    And I kind of agree with Doug. There is no earthy reason MBTI is more universally used than the Insights tool, for instance – other than very clever marketing and careful positioning…I was lucky enough to take my Level A & B qual through an independent source – they helped us look at different tools & the marketing behind them, encouraged us to be discerning about what we used, I guess. Different if you take your Level A/B and qualify with the tool at the same time (no space to explore other models of thinking)

    I’m OK with psychometrics. They are kind of interesting, potentially, but not necessarily significant.
    You can’t capture a person in wee boxes.


    Posted by Julie@fuchsiablue | September 25, 2012, 9:58 PM
    • Hi Julie – love the comments. In particular the systemic perspective on Level A/B being through independent companies OR through those who are marketing their own tools. Feels like a potential conflict if the company marketing their own tools don’t provide balance or discernment.

      The flip side to that is why do practitioners use them if they don’t encourage discernment? Are practitioners attracted by a badge they can keep & market with some economy of scale (they are now A/B qual + accredited to use X/Y/Z tools)? Doesn’t sound likes their starting point was in the service of the client…


      Posted by David Goddin | September 26, 2012, 7:08 AM
  6. I see more uses for development than selection, but many hiring managers do like the idea of quantifying the messiness that is our humanity into an easy to compare number. Given how useless many interviews are, perhaps an oversimplified selection measure is an improvement???

    I once had a personality assesment vendor get flustered when I pressed him on seeing the validity report. His response was essentially: “Since none are valid for hiring you should choose mine because mine are cheaper.” Made me want to shed a tear.


    Posted by broc.edwards | September 25, 2012, 10:53 PM
  7. Thanks for adding here Broc – appreciate it. You’ve highlighted a broader dynamic which I see in other disciplines which is where practitioners serve the client not themselves even if that means not getting the business. Coincidently, Ian (@Ianperyemerge) and I are tweeting on this as I write and he’s just raised the question of ethics. Is this the root of what we’re discussing? Ethics?


    Posted by David Goddin | September 26, 2012, 8:40 AM


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