How to hire and retain engineers: Profile them with Psychometrics

Miriam Groom, VP Sales & Marketing
Miriam Groom

21 February 2020 • Estimated reading time : 5 mins

Hard skills – every experienced engineer has them. The resumes belonging to engineers in various fields, from civil engineering to mechanical engineering, typically provide detailed descriptions of skill sets, specialized expertise, and technical accomplishments. What a resume can’t necessarily tell a recruiter, however, is how effectively that engineer communicates, if they work well in teams, whether or not they’re able to lead, and the strength of their skill-based aptitudes. Sometimes, interviews and background checks aren’t able to tell hiring managers these variables either. Enter Psychometric testing.

Psychometrics is a field of study centered around measuring various psychological aspects such as personality, interpersonal skills, problem solving, and more. In the world of Human Resources, Psychometric testing provides managers with science-backed data about an employee or candidate’s psychological qualities. Depending on the situation, these Psychometrics assessments tend to have a fair degree of reliability and accuracy, and are increasingly being implemented by hiring managers in many industries including engineering. Frequently, they’re used in order to make better hiring decisions, establish harmony among teams, and to prepare employees for leadership or executive positions.

Psychometric evaluations are useful in the engineering sector for many reasons. Here are three:

Select and assess candidates with science-backed data

Psychometrics can add significant value to the recruitment process. For example, a company might have to choose between two highly-skilled engineer candidates, and might want an extra layer of assurance to make the correct choice. At this point, they might reach out to a recruitment firm or company that is certified to select the right assessment that fits the scenario, and conduct a customized Psychometric assessment for the candidates.

The test creation process is unique to the Psychometric practice – one that has been developed carefully by scientists over the decades. The tests are often conducted either online, or taken in person in an office setting. Typically, the questions are in multiple-choice format, and do not require any preparation on the part of the testee. Some of the questions involve written scenarios, and evaluate how a candidate would respond in various work situations.

The questions will measure various characteristics, such as decision making, stress tolerance, emotional intelligence, and other leadership qualities. Ultimately, the results can help a hiring manager decide which candidate’s abilities and personality fit the company culture and role in question.

Improve retention rates and build more effective teams

To point out the obvious, companies must work hard to retain their best employees, because it costs less to retain an employee than to recruit a new one. Part of retention is promoting a healthy work environment where employees work well together and are happy with their team dynamic; and one with less turnover. In some cases, managers look to Psychometrics and coaching to resolve conflicts among departments to boost morale and group performance.

Team-building Psychometric assessments can help determine if there’s a problem in communication, if employees have vastly different work styles that are incompatible, or if there’s some other conflict. For example, a manager might have an extremely extroverted and talkative personality – providing frequent oral feedback and expecting the same in return. The engineer working with the manager might have an introverted personality and feel criticized or even threatened, and might think that the manager is being too aggressive or abrasive. The manager, in turn, might regard his colleague as evasive or even surly. A Psychometric assessment might reveal these two different styles of communication, – enabling a more constructive discussion of how the two can work together more amicably. 

Using Psychometrics to build better teams can increase performance, motivate employees, eliminate conflict, make more effective use of time and resources; and ultimately, increase employee retention.

Help prepare employees for advancement

To build on the point above, many organizations seek to develop the careers of their employees by promoting them to leadership positions. Effective leaders are able to easily adapt to change, motivate others, tactfully delegate responsibilities, analyze trends, and more. Not every engineer possesses these traits, though some might be able to learn them given the right training. Psychometric evaluations can be used to better understand if an engineering employee has these abilities and is ready to take the next step in their career.

The Psychometric leadership tests developed by a certified practitioner can reveal an engineer’s leadership abilities and developmental gaps; helping managers to recognize  and hone their potential.

When it comes to hiring engineers, experience in the field, experience in recruitment, and adherence to standard best hiring practices are almost always essential. Good intuition and people skills are also a key asset, but they have their limits. Employee assessment tools like Psychometrics are another way to give recruiters objective information to make more confident decisions. While hiring a new employee or promoting an existing one always comes with some risk, it’s possible to mitigate some of that uncertainty with properly conducted Psychometric evaluations.

Miriam Groom, VP Sales & Marketing
Miriam Groom

Miriam Groom is a nationally renowned Industrial & Organizational Therapist and HR Strategist specializing in strategic and innovative talent management & workforce transformation strategies that are highly employee-centric.