2
SHARE
Psychological testing in the hiring process

Since the conception of psychology, psychological tests have been experimented with by businesses and organisations to try and build a more detailed profile of candidates.

Some countries place a heavy emphasis on the results of such tests, whereas in other nations, certain types of psychological tests are deemed illegal under employment law. So what type of tests have employers used, and what can they tell us about a candidate’s appropriateness for the job? Here, we take a look at some examples of popular psychological employment tests used around the world.

Graphology

Graphology is the ‘science’ of being able to determine certain character traits of an individual by their handwriting. France is one of the few countries worldwide still using graphology in the employment process, where it is roughly estimated that 50% of companies still use hand-writing analysis.

Graphologists use methods developed from Jungian psychology (and a sprinkle of Freud!) to analyse a person’s handwriting to reveal aspects of personality. Some of the questions graphologists may pose include: Are letters spaced out or close together? Are characters elongated or squashed? How is space used on the page? These are just some of the many parameters used to draw personality conclusions.

Sceptics argue that the content of writing, rather than its style of presentation, is a better indicator for building an employee profile, and that there is a lack of evidence and proof that handwriting reveals any personality traits at all. However, as some professional graphologists argue, if their methods were not working, it would be apparent by now, and their services rendered useless. It seems that for now, the jury is still out on graphology.

Draw-a-person-in-the-rain

This test aims to build a personal profile based on one’s drawing habits. The task – to draw a picture of a person standing in the rain. Easy, right? Rather than testing one’s artistic prowess, this test looks at aspects of size, composition, pen pressure, and time taken to determine what kind of traits you have. To many of us, this might sound like a crazy solution for rooting out the best candidates, but it is common practice in Argentina, where psychological testing is held in high regard. In fact, a recent survey revealed that Argentinian employers use psychological tests in 24.6% of all interviews.

Let’s take a look at the psychological breakdown. Drawing your figure on the right-hand side of the paper might indicate, for example, your desire to grow professionally, and your self-confidence. Placing the figure on the left-hand side, alternatively, may show pessimism. Did the candidate draw an umbrella? If they drew a large one, it may indicate they’re a defensive person. No umbrella? Maybe you find it difficult to cope with tough life situations. You get the gist.

Again, this may sound like a highly speculative method to many of us. But does the fact that it is commonly used in the employment process in Latin America mean that it’s working? Again, much like graphology, there is little concrete evidence that, for example, a candidate who draws the ground in the picture is really a ‘grounded’ person. However, its sustained popularity in the region means someone, somewhere, is happy with the results!

Rorschach test

The Rorschach test, or ‘inkblot test’, is one of the most famous psychological tests conceived. Using 10 ambiguous shapes created out of coloured inkblots, it asks the participants what they see in the shadowy smudges on the paper. Popular in the 1960s, it is rarely used in the recruitment process today. However, it still has a major following in countries such as Japan – The Japanese Rorschach Society is by far the largest in the world.

Hermann Rorschach initially developed the test as a tool for the diagnosis of thought disorders and schizophrenia in 1921. It was not until 1939 that the test was used as a projective test of personality however, which the inventor had always been sceptical about using it for (although this has not stopped myriad organisations using it since). So what can we tell about a candidate from their reading of the Rorschach?

In true psychoanalytical fashion, your response to the inkblots is supposed to determine what’s going on in your subconscious. For example, hesitating and spending too long figuring out what's going on in a picture could mean you are tentative, neurotic, and/or lack awareness in social situations. In another picture, seeing two people pressing hands together may mean you’re adverse to violent thoughts.

As mentioned before, the Rorschach test is rarely used in the employment process today, but many still hold on to the psychological insights it can give us about those participating. Psychoanalytical ideas can still be found in employment tests across the world, as recruiters try to draw the most accurate profile of candidates.

If you’d like to gain the skills needed to lead in the field of recruitment, take a look at the BA (Hons) Business Management (Human Resources Management) programme from The University of Law Business School.

Recommended Programmes
HR Management

The Global MBA (HR Management) provides advanced theoretical and practical skills in international and cross-cultural human resource management, essential for leading modern HR departments.

DOWNLOAD COURSE PROSPECTUS
  • MSc Project Management (APM)

    Postgraduate

  • MSc Project Management (APM)

    Postgraduate

  • BA (Hons) Business (HRM) (CMI)

    Undergraduate

More insight from our blog

  • Part III: Edology meets young entrepre...

    Two successful young entrepreneurs, Joonas Ahola and Andy Zhang, share some inspirati...

    Read More
  • Why study an online MBA?

    Find out why the MBA has become the degree of choice with working professionals.

    Read More
  • What is an online MBA?

    Find out why this online master's has become the degree of choice with working profes...

    Read More
  • MBA Subjects

    If you’re planning on earning your MBA, you may want to consider choosing one of thes...

    Read More
  • What is an online bachelor’s degree?

    Find answers to some of the most common questions about studying an online bachelor's...

    Read More
  • MBA and master's - which one is right ...

    We will help direct you to the ideal degree to suit your career goals.

    Read More
  • The 5 top online MBA programmes

    Which MBA is best for you?

    Read More
  • Why study short course certificates

    Long-term benefits of short-term courses

    Read More
  • Part II: Edology meets young entrepren...

    We asked two more exciting young entrepreneurs what inspired them, and what challenge...

    Read More
  • Part I: Edology meets young entreprene...

    We asked young entrepreneurs a series of questions to find out what inspired them, wh...

    Read More
  • The Master of Scientific Management

    Frederick Taylor revolutionised the way factories divide work between employees. But ...

    Read More
  • Psychological testing in the hiring pr...

    We take a look at popular psychological tests used around the world to test job candi...

    Read More
  • How one man changed business managemen...

    Nearly 12 years after his death, Peter Drucker is still known as the Father of Modern...

    Read More
  • What is a business mentor, and why do ...

    What is a business mentor? They can be the key to developing your success.

    Read More
  • 3 business secrets tomorrow’s leaders ...

    What do tomorrow’s business leaders know that you don’t? What are they already doing?...

    Read More
  • Are you an entrepreneurial missionary ...

    How your business objectives can influence the culture of your company.

    Read More
  • Larger than life: The eccentric entrep...

    A look at eccentric entrepreneurs whose businesses were driven by their dreams.

    Read More
  • Innovation for the sake of existence

    How have business attitudes toward green issues helped lead the way whilst minimising...

    Read More
  • Four golden rules for MBA career plann...

    Plan life after your MBA. Follow these golden rules to reach the top and get the care...

    Read More
  • The rise of the female entrepreneur

    The Golden Age for female entrepreneurs is here. See how women are making their mark ...

    Read More
  • Make your life greener with eco-friend...

    With a few minor adjustments to your day-to-day activities, these apps can make it ea...

    Read More
  • 5 business tips from 500 BC

    How have Sun Tzu’s teachings impacted today’s strategic business practices, and can t...

    Read More
  • Why Entrepreneurs Fail to Scale

    Read More
  • Four reasons to gain your qualificatio...

    Why study online? Why not, when it makes so much sense?

    Read More
  • 3 tenets of great leadership

    The art of leadership is difficult to master, but a necessary tool for a healthy and ...

    Read More
  • 5 mentoring models that can grow your ...

    Bridge the skills gap in your business and earn new levels of success.

    Read More