DIY Psychometric Testing – Do It Yourself!
Psychometric testing seems like such a great idea but, surely, there’s a way of doing it quickly, cheaply and effortlessly?
The oldest do-it-yourself cliché in the world is, “Measure twice, cut once.” This is axiomatic wisdom when applied to pieces of wood. It’s not a bad approach to people either, although the “cutting” bit might be a tad dodgy from a health and safety perspective. Try before you buy or, at the very least, test before you hire. But in the same way that you’re less of a man if you have to get a tradesman in*, are you less of an employer if you don’t do-it-yourself? I’m here to help.
In his book ‘Quirkology’, Professor Richard Wiseman throws down a quick and dirty psych test to determine the inherent honesty of the character of the person with whom you’re dealing. Me, I used it on my kids. They say there’s a correlation between dishonesty at a young age and success in later life. I’m kind of pinning my hopes on that one.
Anyways, pick your victim. Don’t give away in advance the purpose of this ‘psychological profiling technique.’ Ask them to imagine that the index finger on their dominant hand is a pen and they are to write an uppercase letter Q with that pen on their own forehead. Observe them doing this. Maybe get an independent third party to observe and verify. As you’re observing how they write their Q, pay particular attention to how they apply the ligature – the squiggly bit that distinguishes a Q from an O. (Does the letter O have ligature-envy?)
The trick in the tail is if they have written their Q so it’s correct from their own point of view or from the point of view of someone looking at them? (I once trained a man in customer service who had self-tattooed on his own forehead the phrase ‘Justice Sucks.’ The S’s were backwards. Maybe his protest was valid but the backward S’s made me feel less supportive of him, although his customer skills were impeccable.) Those writing their Q’s from their own point of view are alleged to be inherently more honest.
When I’m speaking or training, I generally tell people about these inner-soul-revealing techniques as a means of getting a cheap chuckle at someone else’s expense. ie the best kind! (This is a blog, it’s not called ‘The Professional Opinion Of A Qualified Expert.’) I also use them as a warning to business people to treat every supposed profiling technique with a healthy degree of scepticism. One such giggle-inducing technique which is sufficiently and disturbingly plausible in a large group is as follows.
Lay your dominant hand flat on a surface. Observe the relative lengths of your index and ring fingers. The longer your ring finger is in relation to your index finger in this experiment / joke reflects how much testosterone you were exposed to in utero and therefore how it subsequently affected your physiological development. (It adds to the gravitas of the set-up if you use words like “physiological” and “in utero”. It’s even better if you can pronounce the italics of “in utero.”)
Again, don’t give away the point until the people you’re ‘testing’ have revealed their finger gap ratio.
If you’re a female and you have a high ratio, you probably find yourself better at Olympic throwing sports than females with average ratios. If you’re a male with a low ratio, then please do refer to the owner’s manual of your red convertible sportscar or ask your girlfriend to do it after she’s finished updating her One Direction fansite.
Okay so now you’ve got a couple of ice breaker activities for your next dinner party or after-work gathering which is about as much credence as I’d really give these games as psychometric profiling techniques. I’m always a bit wary of more formal processes too. I’m sure they’re valid as part of a portfolio of recruitment, selection and placement tools, not just for screening applicants but for determining best fit and approach once hired. I’ve been in groups where everyone’s read their results and lots of people have declared, “Oh my God, that is so me,” or words to that effect. Mind you, try reading your horoscope today and see how that also eerily accurately applies to you.
I’m not suggesting for a moment that the consultants to whom you pay tens of thousands of dollars are in any way as shonky as me on stage but I am probably slightly cheaper and I tell you in advance that my techniques are a joke.
*The references to “man” and “tradesman” are deliberately sexist for the joke to work. I’m really sorry. I would’ve rewritten it but I was distracted by the massive gap between my ring and index fingers.