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You are the perfect hire, but sorry, the tests say “no”.

Recruitment is a tricky business. How can you be sure someone who performs well in an interview will perform well in a job? How can you be sure they have all the right skills and abilities? How can you be sure they’ll fit into the culture of your organisation and work well with the rest of your team?

Some businesses use a range of personality and ability tests as part of their process. Psychometric tests can be useful as they give an objective measure of a person’s innate qualities. Whether you need a good team player or a strategic thinker or a strong leader, all of these qualities can be measured through psychometric testing. Ability tests can include a range of verbal and numerical reasoning, spatial awareness and critical thinking exercises.

Is a lawyer that passes the tests more likely than not to succeed and how important should the results be when looking to make your recruitment decision?

I have never seen a study on this so I don’t have a conclusive answer. However, over the past 15 years, together with the other members of the in-house legal recruitment team at BCL Legal, we have assisted UK corporates with close to 1000 hires. Over 90% of the lawyers we place stay for at least 4 years in the role we place them so thankfully along with the clients that we assist we are getting it right. Off the top of my head I would say no more than 20% of clients utilise psychometric/ability tests so I am always fairly sceptical as to how beneficial they are.

As to how important the results are when making a hiring decision, what do you think of the following scenario? BCL Legal was recently involved with a senior level piece of recruitment with the client looking for a very particular individual, some might say unique in the marketplace. An individual was found that met every single requirement of the client. Even the CEO was convinced this was the perfect individual – based on experience and personality. Unfortunately for the interviewee when it came to the aptitude tests they didn’t do well – especially in the numerical test and the six-figure offer was rescinded due to the poor result. I couldn’t believe that with 20+ years experience of succeeding in her career the client took the decision that on the basis of a numerical test they would no longer offer her the role. Months on they are still yet to recruit and likely to change the profile to help find someone that does exist.

As much as I would never expect a client to hire an individual who interviewed really badly but had great test results, the reverse is true. I don’t understand why they would not hire someone who impressed them but had poor test results (especially if it was in the numerical test).. Of course discuss the results, even give the candidate a second chance, but to bring the process to a close seems an odd decision to me.

For more information please contact Mark Levine at BCL Legal.

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