Longstanding public servants are being asked whether their friends know how to party, if they hate opera and whether they like riddles – and their answers could cost them their jobs.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Department of Conservation are two government agencies that have used psychometric testing as part of restructures and redundancies.
But employment lawyers and psychologists say the increasing use of testing in this way – in both the public and private sectors – is “inherently problematic” and could be illegal.
News of their use comes on the back of an Employment Court decision that found a psychometric test was unfair and used “irrelevant criteria” for deciding on redundancies.
I’ve been on several interview panels for chief executives, which use psychometric testing. Generally I’ve found the test results to be very accurate, and helpful. And sometimes a candidate for a senior role has been hired without psychometric testing – and the result has been an unsuitable applicant.
So as part of a recruitment process, I think psychometric testing is very useful, for certain roles.
But I do not think it is a good fit for decisions on redundancies and restructuring. Once an employee has been working for an employer for some time, the employers and managers should be able to assess their capabilities and attitudes without needing psychometric testing.