1. Policy statement

The University of Glasgow uses psychometric testing to enhance the quality and quantity of information available to support decisions on recruitment and selection, training and development, career planning and talent management of staff. We are committed to the highest standards of practice in the use of all psychometric testing, in order to maximise the benefit of testing to the University and the individual, and to promote fairness and equality of opportunity.

This document outlines best practice on the operation of psychometric testing.

2. Context

Psychometric testing is designed to assess people and measure the differences between individuals. They are designed and developed in such a way that they can be shown to measure what they claim to measure with a reasonable degree of accuracy. They are objective, standardised instruments that achieve this precision by using well-controlled, uniform methods of administration and scoring.

Broadly speaking there are two forms of psychometric tests suitable for use in an occupational setting:

  • an ability test which assesses the candidates specific ability (e.g. verbal, numerical or abstract reasoning),
  • a personality test which assesses personal qualities such as personality, temperament, values and interests, preferred styles of working.

3. Scope of the policy

This policy applies as determined appropriate by Human Resources with regards to psychometric test use for recruitment and selection, training and development, career planning and talent management. 

4. Responsibilities

Human Resources are responsible for ensuring that test use in the University is in accordance with this policy. Test usage should be reviewed by Human Resources on an annual basis. Any procedure that involves the use of psychometric testing must be discussed and formally agreed with Human Resources before implementation. 

The recruiting manager or sponsor will be advised on the most appropriate test or battery of tests to be used for the purpose intended based on the requirements of the job description and person specification.

Test Users (qualified/licensed practitioners administering the test) must ensure that test administration is in accordance with ethical and professional standards as relevant (e.g. test publisher, British Psychological Society) and that this policy is applied at all times. Test Users are responsible for ensuring their qualifications are current and for the way they personally apply or administer the test.

The School/Research Institute/Service using psychometric testing will be expected to fund expenses associated with test administration (e.g. the supplier sets the fees for each test).

Candidates and staff members taking the psychometric test should complete the test within the allocated timeframe, without help from others and to the best of their ability. They should raise any concerns or questions at the earliest opportunity with Human Resources.

5. Test Users

Knowledge and experience are required to use a psychometric test effectively. Consequently only trained Test Users who hold current memberships with relevant qualifications and/or license may use and interpret psychometric instruments (e.g. British Psychological Society Certificate of Competence in Occupational Testing Level A / Test User Occupational, Ability and/or Level B / Test User Occupational, Personality). This ensures competent and responsible test use including selection, application and administration of the test, and interpretation and feedback of the result. The contact details of qualified HR staff can be found on the HR website.

The Head of Employee and Organisational Development is responsible for test management and will ensure that:

  • anyone involved in test administration, scoring or interpreting results is adequately trained and holds the relevant qualification in accordance with the test supplier’s requirements, 
  • no unsupervised access to a test is permitted to anyone who is not trained or qualified.

You can access a full list of Trained Test Users here.

6. Test Selection

A properly constructed psychometric test is accompanied by information on the test’s technical properties. This is contained in the test’s technical manual, which is provided by the test supplier.
It includes statistical data indicating the validity and reliability, information relating to the procedures to be followed while administering the test, scoring and interpreting the test, and relevant norm tables containing the scores of individuals from comparable groups to those to which the test will be given.

Any test should always be used in conjunction with other relevant information, tools and processes when making decisions. They will only be used at the University where the test to be applied:

  • is unbiased, technically sound, appropriate and relevant to the identified purpose,
  • is accompanied by a technical manual that gives details on the background of the test, information on its psychometric properties and instructions for its use, and contains norm tables,
  • can be shown to be valid (measure those aspects that the supplier claims that they measure) and reliable (consistently measure those aspects),
  • does not unfairly disadvantage certain groups, does not unfairly discriminate and is not otherwise unlawful,
  • provides norm tables or comparison groups which give a fair and relevant comparison with the individual being tested and are up to date, 
  • provides an opportunity for feedback to all test participants,
  • is clearly relevant and aligned to the process being undertaken,
  • is used in accordance with the requirements of the test publisher.

For recruitment and selection purposes, the Test User should select the most appropriate battery of tests to meet the needs of the assessment based on a detailed job description/person specification for the role. Any decision taken with regards to the selection and use of a specific test must be agreed with the Test User in partnership with Human Resources and relevant line management.

For career development purposes, the Test User should select the most appropriate test or battery of tests to meet the needs based on relevant benchmarks (e.g. leadership competencies). Any decision taken with regards to the selection and use of a specific test must be agreed with the Test User in partnership with Human Resources and relevant line management.

7. Guidelines for test use

Test suppliers provide detailed administration instructions in the technical manual that accompanies the test and these instructions must be applied in practice. Only original copies of test documentation should be used.

In general, psychometric Test Users should ensure that:

  • the purpose of the test is clear to all parties involved prior to the use of the test and test results will not be used for any purpose other than those communicated at the outset
  • the procedure for taking the test is explained in advance
  • the level of confidentiality regarding the test results is fully explained 
  • there are adequate arrangements for giving feedback to the candidate or staff member taking the test
  • test outcome information is stored and disposed of in accordance with this policy
  • consent to undertake the test is received in advance of personal development and/or team development.

For recruitment and selection purposes, a practice test must be offered in advance, if available from the test supplier. In instances where the test has not been completed by the candidate, advice should be sought from the Test User in consultation with Human Resources regarding appropriate next steps. The candidate will be considered to have withdrawn from the recruitment and selection process if they do not complete any one element of the process. Candidates are encouraged to discuss any questions or concerns with Human Resources in the first instance. Additional information can be found in section 10 Equality & Diversity and referred to as appropriate.

A battery of tests should be applied to inform decisions in recruitment and selection or in support of promotion. Test scores must be interpreted on the basis of relevant norm groups.

Test Users must ensure that all paper-based test materials are securely stored in a locked unit, with key access only by qualified Test Users. An accurate log should be kept of all test materials held. The log should be updated whenever materials are removed, replaced or added to the inventory.

8. Test administration

The objectivity and standards of the test results relies on standard circumstances for their completion. The arrangements for anyone taking the test should follow uniform procedures specified by the test supplier to maintain the objectivity of the test. Those who are responsible for test administration should ensure that the candidate/staff completing the test:

  • receives the same standard instructions specified by the suppliers of the test,
  • completes the test by themselves without help from others,
  • is aware that where a test is completed in an unsupervised on-line environment, re-test may be requested in a controlled environment,
  • in the University environment is not disturbed, distracted or interrupted and they are positioned in a suitable environment and physically comfortable (e.g. adequate light, comfortable temperature),
  • have sufficient time to complete the test, unless it is a timed test, in which case they understand what the time limit is and it is applied consistently.

9. Test results

Test results should always be interpreted by properly trained Test Users in the context of clearly defined criteria and compliance with the requirements and good practice advice of the test publisher. Test results must be interpreted on the basis of relevant norm groups.

Computer generated reports should be used to standardise and support interpretations. Only trained Test Users can authorise the use of computer-generated reports in a testing process.

Test Users will provide relevant information based upon reports in accordance with confidentiality agreements to agreed parties (e.g. recruitment and selection panel, candidate).

For recruitment and selection purposes, a candidate’s test results are valid for any similar position utilising the same test(s) for a period of 12 months from the date of testing.

Feedback on the interpretation of test results by the Test User must be offered to the candidate / staff taking the test and provided in a confidential and timely manner.

10. Equality & Diversity

The University of Glasgow is committed to promoting equality of opportunity in all of its activities and aims to provide a work, learning, research and teaching environment free from discrimination and unfair treatment. Whenever a disability/impairment prevents a suitably qualified individual from undergoing psychometric testing for recruitment and selection, training and development, career planning and talent management appropriate alternative arrangements for assessing must be considered. Test Users should always contact the test supplier for advice regarding reasonable adjustments before making any changes to the test administration procedures.

Human Resources and the Test User will provide guidance to recruitment and selection panels and sponsors with respect to assessment and reasonable adjustments.

Additional guidance can be found through the British Psychological Society.

11. Confidentiality

The Data Protection Act 1998 requires that information collected during psychometric testing be accurate, up to date and stored confidentially.

Test results will not be used for any other purpose than intended and will not be shared with any other person without the explicit consent of the individual.

Test results should be kept by Test Users in secure and locked files. Results over 12 months old are invalid for recruitment and selection decisions.  All results are to be destroyed after three years or when the respondent ceases to be employed, whichever is sooner. A written interpretation of results should be kept in personal files.

12. Copyright

Copyright legislation forbids the reproduction of psychometric test materials. It is an infringement of copyright to copy test materials without the express permission of the test’s publisher.  It is regarded as a disciplinary offence for any person to knowingly breach copyright and in those circumstances a person may be subject to disciplinary procedures.