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The perils of relying on psychometric tests

The Co-op Bank’s recent tribulations raise serious questions about the way some employers use psychometric testing.

It was widely reported some weeks ago that the bank’s Chairman, Paul Flowers, had resigned after revelations about his private life.  During his tenure, he presided over a capital shortfall of £1.5 bn.  The bank had to be bailed out by its bondholders, mainly foreign hedge funds.

Questioned by the Treasury Select Committee last week, the Co-op’s former Deputy Chairman admitted that Flowers was appointed because of the impeccable results he scored in psychometric testing, despite directors’ concerns that he lacked the financial expertise for the job – a revelation that was greeted with laughter by several MPs.

Here at Carreras Lathane, we are acutely aware of the value of psychometric profiling; it is one of the services we offer to clients as a matter of course.  However, it must be used for its intended purpose: to identify areas of interest or concern, which can be subsequently tested at interview.

Psychometric testing is an aid to assessment, not a decision making tool.  Managers in media who treat it as such – and there are  many – might do well to reflect on the Co-op’s recent experience.

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