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Psychometric Test and Personality Test: Are they Different?

Discover the difference between a personality test and a psychometric test. See which one you need to choose depending on the situation you are facing.

HR Technology

Cindy Boisvert

Monday, April 07, 2014


More and more, we notice a trend towards the use of a psychometric test or personality test as a convenient way to enhance the selection process and evaluation of the next generation. The range of tests available on the market and the aspects they evaluate may raise questions about the best choices an organization can make.

To better clarify these decisions, it is important to know the difference between a personality test and a psychometric test. By understanding the distinctions between the two, you will avoid falling into traps that seem too good to be true.

Psychometric test: what is it?

A psychometric test may have several purposes, including assessment of personality. It may be useful in broad contexts of selection and organizational development, guidance or even clinical evaluation (pathologies and deviances). A psychometric test can also assess (but is not limited to) the following:

  • Values
  • Situational judgment
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Settings
  • The job fit with a particular position

A psychometric test is not a test that requires a demanding preparation, as it seeks to assess the innate and natural facets in people. Our attempt to prepare and give a “good” answer can lead to a social desirability bias (predisposition to provide what we believe is an expected answer to give a good impression). If we really want to benefit from the constructive and relevant feedback a psychometric test can offer, we need to answer with as much spontaneity and honesty as possible.

Psychometric testing affects all types of measurements and how they are validated. It can also be used in other contexts than for pure personality assessment (for example, evaluation of consumer behavior for a business marketing research). Psychometric assessment can be represented by several mediums, from questionnaires to hypothetical situations.

A psychometric test can measure several aspects in a person: resistance to stress , degree of leadership, emotional stability, level of sociability, relationships with others , learning capacity and learning mode, thinking structure, motivation …

Personality test: what is it?

The personality test is a type of psychometric test.

Its uses may also relate to career counseling, recruitment, organizational development. All these aspects are established by considering the personality of the individual and the people who surround them every day.

The personality test, often available for free on the web, can come from various sources that are difficult to trace or validate. Be careful when completing a personality test online without knowing where it comes from.

If the personality test is completed for simple curiosity or pleasure, the impact is less dramatic. Nonethless, if you want to use the information for a more serious professional or personal matter, is it worth investigating its origin and being cautious with the results. As the personality test must lead to meaningful conclusions, it is important to consider the source and credibility of the test administered.

Building on an unproven personality test can lead to serious mistakes of selection and significant costs to the organization.

Psychometric test or Personality test: which one should I use?

A matter of scientific validation

A psychometric test refers to a standard in the general population. For the measures to be valid, the results are compared to a representative sample of the population (male / female , culturally diverse communities, different ages, etc. ). The same test is administered at least twice. This so-called test-retest stability is a crucial step. The administration of the same test to the same subjects after a certain time interval serves to better analyze the accuracy and compare answers.

The scientific process of validating a psychometric test is lengthy and expensive. It compares individual results to a population to confirm that the conclusions are accurate.

A psychometric test is said to be valid if it actually measures what it’s supposed to be measuring and if the information is truthful. This, as well as several other rules associated with scientific validation makes the psychometric stand out from a personality test that can be found anywhere on the web.

A non-validated personality test will not necessarily reveal misleading and erroneous information, but it is impossible to confirm whether the information is valid. It is also impossible to know whether the people who developed the test did it according to their personal beliefs or preferences.

A psychometric test is reliable when the results are almost identical after being administered repeatedly in spaced time intervals. This reliability ensures the results are consistent.

Advice to choose the right test

When choosing what test to administer, choose a tool that demonstrates a good balance between the level of difficulty to interpret the results and their accuracy. Also, opt for a test that will be fast to interpret (without taking away from its accuracy), and that will allow for more autonomy.

Choose a reliable and valid test, and one that will suit your requirements depending on the nature of the position or job field.

The important thing when choosing the right tool, whether it is a personality test or a psychometric test, is to pick the one that will fulfill your needs. Make sure it evaluates the aspects that are relevant to the position you are trying to fill, or to your organizational context, but most importantly, make sure that it is reliable, valid and can be supported by a scientific validation manual.

A good example?

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