The revelation that Paul Flowers, the former Chairman of the Co-Op bank, was recruited because of his ability to deal with politics at a senior level and his exceptional performance on his psychometric test, has dented the creditability of psychometric testing. The media jumped on the disgraced former Chairman’s performance in his role over the four years he was in office.

Psychometric testing is an extremely valuable tool for assessing personality traits but it should not be used in isolation.

Data should be considered alongside other factors like knowledge and experience. In addition, it is useful to have an understanding of how an individual may react when under strain. Some tests can assess what traits an individual may display if things go wrong and they find themselves under pressure, this is advisable especially for roles that have this potential.

Paul Flowers’ experience was in the retail sector, he did not have any current senior experience of running a financial institution, so his knowledge and experience should have been taken into consideration alongside the results of his psychometric test. So, how do psychometric tests actually work and can they add value when making decisions on who to recruit and how best to manage?

Psychometric tests are used to help employers discover more about an individual’s personality – their manner, how they like to do things, how they interact with people, the working cultures they are more suited to, how they like to be managed, what motivates them, how they react when under pressure, what they value, etc. Tests tend to have a built in lie detector that can pick up inconsistencies if individuals try to ‘rig’ their results. The label ‘test’ can be quite misleading as there are no wrong or right answers. They are a questionnaire designed to assess information about individuals provided by the individual themselves. Understanding how an individual ticks can help to identify whether they are suitable for a particular role or help existing team members understand themselves more as well as their relationship with others, be they colleagues or clients say.

Psychometric testing can be used throughout an employee’s work lifecycle.


Tests can help organisation to determine candidates that are the best fit for the company and for the role.  An individual scoring highly for sociability would be an advantage for some positions; however, if the position is highly structured with not very much interaction with others, this type of person would be less ideal.

Development and training

Tests can aid managers to identify the best way to improve an individual’s skills and performance by understanding what motivates them and how they learn.

Team building

Certain tests can be very useful for team cohesion and strengthening. They show people how to better understand themselves and others, enabling them to build and maintain positive relationships with colleagues. They also help managers and leaders to gain an understanding of the dynamics of a team as well as people’s values.  In turn this can allow recognition of what each member of the team ‘brings to the party’ and allows teams to work to their strengths or identify their areas for development.

Career development

Oganisations can gain from tests by understanding what is important to individuals in terms of the employee’s development and progression.  It can reveal the values and interests that will lead to career satisfaction.

By understanding what employees want and need from a role due to their make you can ensure you retain people that will deliver success to your organisation and develop them to perform at a high standard.

To maximise the effectiveness of using psychometric tests, organisations should ensure that they have an understanding of which tests would be beneficial in terms of the outcome being sought. To avoid wrong conclusions, any testing should be conducted by a professional trained in the specific test and in how to administer, score and provide feedback on that test’s results.

Beststart Human Resources can offer clients a range of psychometric tests dependent on need:

Thomas International

We can deliver Thomas’ PPA personality profile and GI ability and aptitude tests both of which are ideal for recruitment.  The PPA can also be used as part of a management development programme, identifying an individual’s natural and ‘pressurised’ response to work.


SHL offers a range of aptitude (numerical, verbal and spatial reasoning) tests ideal for recruitment requiring specific abilities. Their OPQ is a well known personality test, assessing across 32 competencies, and is suitable for recruitment and management development.

Myers Briggs

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator test (MBTI) brings psychological typing into everyday use.  It is an extremely popular tool for coaching, team building and development.

Please contact Anita Wynne or Claire Thompson for further information on psychometric testing Tel: 01438 7470747 or email