The short answer is that a good, valid and reliable, psychometric test  helps users to make better decisions about people.  People are complex and assessing people accurately is notoriously challenging. And yet it’s vital if we are select for good fit or identify development needs effectively.

In recruitment, reliance on interviews, even when well structured, the evidence is consistent – the reliability and validity of interviews alone is very often low. A Harvard University study reported that 80% of turnover can be blamed on mistakes made during the employee selection and hiring process.

In training, development and coaching identification of need can be comparatively accurate especially when there is the full engagement of the individual. The challenge there is to bring about change in behaviour and the habitual adoption of new skills and behaviours. Even well-established techniques such as CBT can have their limitations.

A possible explanation lies in what it is that we are trying to do. Most of the time we are seeking to assess and develop the personality or some aspect of the personality of the individual. Given that we are increasingly aware of the plasticity of both the brain and personality, understanding personality might be more than useful.

Personality can be thought of as having three (perhaps more) components. How we act, how we feel and how we think.

Most traditional personality measures tend to be behaviour base measures. That is understandable, useful and important. Behaviour is what we can see in others and in ourselves. It’s very observable.

Many will examine feelings, emotions etc. again and similarly, we can describe our feelings to others and often describe the emotions and feelings of others comparatively comfortably. They are describable.

The third component, how we think, is different. It is extremely difficult to see how another person is thinking. We cannot see or describe what is happening in their heads. And it is difficult to self aware about these same things.

However, how we think – our mindset – is fundamentally important. It determines, with other factors, to a significant extent, how we behave and how we feel.

So when we agree with someone that they might consider changing behaviours and support them in understanding that – even showing what other behaviours might be useful or appropriate – it is not uncommon to find that, despite development activity that they will often “revert to type”. The explanation might be that their mindset hasn’t changed.

Its not surprising that we see an increasing interest in understanding this area. The next article in the series will look a little more closely at Mindset and Mental Toughness.

In the meantime visit our website for further information on measuring mindset and mental toughness http://www.aqr.co.uk/page/mentaltoughness

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