The use of assessment tools in the business environment has developed substantially over the past 50 years. Adrian Bassett looks at past, present and future trends

1960s

  • Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Meyers publish the Meyers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).
  • Robert and Joyce Hogan published the Hogan Personality Inventory in 1986, based on the five factor model, and with an emphasis on the prediction of outcomes rather than measuring traits.
  • Warren T. Norman publishes his first article on the Big Five Personality Factors. A model that many modern-day psychometrics continue to have their origins in; Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism.

1980s

  • The 1980s saw an increased use of psychometrics in a business setting.
  • The first commercially available psychometrics designed explicitly for an occupational setting (rather than clinical or general personality) were launched, for example the OPQ (Occupational Personality Questionnaire).

1990s

  • Although the term was first coined in the 1960s, the concept of Emotional Intelligence gained popularity following Daniel Goleman’s 1995 book of the same name. Various tools were subsequently launched in an attempt to assess EQ. However, there has subsequently been criticism of the concept, and the extent to which it differs from IQ and the Big Five, resulting in a decline in application.

2000s

  • Psychometrics has become increasingly ingrained in recruitment culture at all levels. Personnel Today cited research in the HR Sector claiming that 78 per cent of their respondents agreed that psychometrics are a “powerful tool for hiring”.
  • There is increased competition in the market and a broader range of tools available; personality, values, motivation, aptitude, situational judgement, leadership styles and more.
  • However, technology has arguably had the most significant impact on assessment methodology, for example:
  • Psychometric data can be re-cut in multiple ways to focus on key attributes, such as a candidate can complete one questionnaire, and the subsequent data can be cut in multiple ways to provide a range of profiles, for example. A focus on sales behaviour, leadership style, team type and so on.

The future

  • Psychometric tools can be customised to an organisation’s values or to create relevant situational judgement tests (SJTs).
  • Item Response Theory to improve scoring accuracy.
  • Going forward, the future direction is not clear, but:
  • The use of algorithms to predict occupational behaviour based on social media and online presence is likely to gain traction.
Adrian Bassett

Adrian is a Chartered Psychologist with over fifteen years of consulting experience through roles at Work Communications (formerly part of the SHL group) and Deloitte. Adrian led the Assessment Des...

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