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    Psychometric testing – what is it and why should we use it?

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        At Headway Recruitment, psychometric testing is part of our talent selection as standard. Here we take a look at the history behind it and why it is so valuable.


        As the saying goes, there’s nothing new under the sun. The idea behind psychometric testing has been around since the time of the Greek physician Hippocrates between 300-400 BC.

        It was this very clever gentleman who identified the ‘four temperaments’. Hippocrates stated that there are four different personality types – sanguine, choleric, melancholic and phlegmatic – and that each individual is an interesting blend of each of them.

        The sanguine character is a social being, they are extroverts and don’t like to be idle. The choleric character is a logical extrovert, they like to make decisions and excel at being in charge.

        Next are the melancholic crowd who pay attention to detail, feel things deeply and are prone to anxiety. The phlegmatic crew like to relax; they will compromise in difficult situations and like to take things easy.

        Over time, many other notable economists and philosophers have brought their own versions of the theory to the table, but it’s easy to see how the origins of the modern psychometric test remain highly relevant.

        The Headway (way)

        Through out history, various tests have developed. Here at Headway, we favour the DISC profiling system, based on the work of Dr William Marston and first published in 1928.

        DISC is not a test of an individual’s intellectual ability, nor is it intended to define how an individual will behave (that will always be the remit of the individual involved). Rather, DISC looks at the LIKELY behaviour of an individual and at the type of person they are.

        Like the four temperaments, the DISC profile is split into four personality types – D, I, S and C (now would be a good time to resist adding an O…….):

        D – dominance. This group like to see results; they are powerful individuals who are direct in their approach.

        I – influence. The I’s are full of enthusiasm and have an optimistic view of the world. They are extroverts and usually in high spirits.

        S – steadiness. The S club (now would be a good time to resist adding 7.. …) are patient beings, they are diplomats with steady tempers and are unassuming in their attitudes.

        C – conscientiousness. The C’s are analysts. Private logical characters, who pay attention to detail and are systematic in their approach.

        It’s easy to see a candidate’s qualifications. That’s why we have CV’s, references and exam results. These are facts which are capable of being measured from the off. But how can you truly gage whether someone is a good fit for your business? This is where psychometric testing proves to be an invaluable tool in the recruitment kit.

        The Full picture

        Psychometric tests are designed establish what someone’s personality traits are and whether those characteristics are suitable for the role on offer.

        They provide an insight into the many questions an employer has about a prospective hire. How does this person deal with pressure? Does this person work well with others? Do they adapt to change and display leadership qualities? At its core, psychometric testing can give you an idea of a candidate’s work ethic. They may be highly impressive during interview and have communication skills in abundance, but this will prove useless if they have no motivation in their professional life.

        There is no test that can tell you exactly how someone WILL behave in any given situation, but it can provide a valuable awareness of how a person is LIKELY to behave and the value of this is not to be underestimated.


        Psychometric testing protects both candidates and employers from discrimination even at the most basic level.

        The use of psychometric testing provides a systematic approach to getting the measure of a person, avoids leaving the important hiring decisions to your ‘gut’ and gives you tangible evidence to work with.

        Personality is difficult to measure at the best of times, and it is perhaps even harder to judge during an interview, arguably the most unnatural of environments. During interview, candidates are under pressure, their main goal being to impress and secure the role in hand.

        The psychometric test adds a layer of protection against hiring the wrong people, which in turn reduces staff turnover, increases your bottom line and keeps you ten steps ahead of your competition.

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