Hiring and training new employees can be an expensive process. To help keep turnover to a minimum, some companies employ psychological testing to ensure that potential employees are suitable before hiring them. Psychological tests, however, are not only used during the hiring process. Some companies use these tests to monitor the continued suitability of employees who have been on the job for some time.
The purpose of psychological testing is to make more informed hiring decisions. Many companies consult outside companies to give and assess these tests in an effort to keep the tests unbiased and to help guard against lawsuits. Psychological testing is used to determine, in particular, the ability of potential employees to work under stressful conditions and to assess the potential of a prospective employee to handle the job effectively under those conditions.
The use of psychological testing can lower the risk of a company being sued, according to Mike Poskey of ZeroRisk HR, a company that specializes in strategies and solutions for greater employee retention. One reason is that psychological testing can help reduce the number of problem employees. Psychological testing can be particularly useful for jobs with a high-stress factor such as law enforcement, the medical field or firefighting because these tests can help determine a potential employee’s abilities to work under stress. Such screening can help a company hire more suitable employees and save on the cost of high employee turnover.
No psychological test is ever completely valid or reliable. According to Dr Wade Silverman, of the Florida Psychological Association, psychological tests are “as valid as standard medical tests” and are administered and interpreted by clinical and forensic psychologists. Even then, a proper psychological assessment requires a battery of tests given over time because one or two tests may be contradictory. With this in mind, the validity of tests administered in one sitting is suspect.
However, use of psychological testing by recruitment agencies may have legal implications, based on the country, state or area the organization belongs to.
Let us take the example of USA. Psychological testing is legal in most states in America, provided the tests are administered by a professional organization or a psychologist. Some states in the USA have specific privacy acts that prevent a company from forcing employees to participate in psychological testing. Terminating an employee who refuses a psychological test in one of these states could result in a lawsuit based upon a breech of privacy law. On the other hand, some states, including California, require psychological exams, particularly in law enforcement and similar fields. Since the Americans with Disabilities Act limits the use of tests by prospective employers, avoid using tests designed to reveal disabilities, particularly schizophrenia and manic depression. Such tests can lead to claims of discrimination based on medical issues.
Therefore, a recruiting agency for companies in India or in any other country is advised to check the law of the land before including psychological tests as a part of their HR process.