Choosing a Local Distributor For Psychometric Tests
One of the first things clients will want to know when choosing who to work with when ordering
psychometric tests is "why should I choose xyz company"?
As the field of psychometrics continues to grow, overseas publishers are working hard to make
inroads into local markets. Clients should therefore be wary of the expertise (or lack of it) in
organizations that are distributing tests.
We firmly believe that those in the best place to distribute psychometric tests are those who have
a background in personality psychology and/or organizational psychology. In fact this premise
was shared by many reputable test publishers until relatively recently.
Greed and motivation to expand market share have taken over in many cases and some test
publishers have delegated test distribution to non-psychologists or those with short-course
qualifications in this area.
The downsides of this are tremendous. Not only does it threaten the very integrity of the test and
the industry, but it brings into the fore concerns regarding malpractice and the like.
Registered Organizational Psychologists are registered with government bodies. They therefore
report to these bodies on issues involving competence. In addition to their 6-10 years of training
in psychology (i.e. as much as a medical doctor!), they are bound to undergo continuous
professional development and must submit proof of this on an annual basis. This means they
need to attend high-level conferences, read peer-reviewed professional and academic journals
Non-psychologists of course are not subject to any of the aforementioned. In fact, many clients
who have come over to us from such distributors have entertained us with stories of gross
negligence and incompetence of these "salespeople" who lack expertise and passion for the
subject matter. A couple of examples follow:
1. A client told us how when they contacted "XXXXXX Assessments" in Hong Kong and asked
for more information on how the test has 95% predictive accuracy (as published on their
website). They were told that this related to 2 things.
Firstly that the test has a sophisticated lie detection system and so is very accurate. A
psychologist will tell you this has nothing to do with predictive accuracy! Predictive accuracy (or
validity) is about using the test scores to predict work performance or something similar.
This same client was then told:
"The second form of predictive accuracy is construct validation which relates to the job
Again, a psychologist would point out that this salesperson is getting confused. Construct
validity and predictive validity are two different forms of validity. Most importantly though, no
psychometric test is 95% predictive! Psychologists know that and if they claim any different they
would be reported to their board and struck off!
Unfortunately, at no time was this client provided with hard-data or evidence that this test (which
is based on a theory that has not been peer-reviewed and has not been independently tested in
Asia or Australia) actually predicts meaningful workplace behaviours and performance.
2. Another client told us how they contacted a non-psychologist distributor of another test brand
in Singapore. They asked for information about impact of dyslexia on aptitude test scores and
also wanted to know about the comparison between certain tests within that brand and those of
This distributor had no idea there and then, and said he would need to go away and find out. A
psychologist would not need to do this. Unless the client is asking about an obscure test,
Psychologists are trained to have the answers.
As we know, there are many things to consider when choosing the right psychometric test. Issues
such as reliability, validity, norm groups, standard error of measurement, cost versus validity
(ROI), report options, online assessment options and so on. This short article has added to that
list and suggested that the background and currency of the people in the distributorship are also
To cast doubt aside, it is best to work with distributors who have demonstrated their passion in
psychology and psychometrics through years of training in the subject along with years of
experience. Choose those holding full registration as psychologists with government/professional
bodies who must undergo professional development on a continual basis.
Purchasing psychometric tests from non-psychologists may amount to asking a private pilot to
fly a jumbo jet. They may be able to get it off the ground ("may"!), but what happens when they
encounter problems or when they try to land?
Dr. Graham Tyler is an award-winning organizational psychologist, Chartered Scientist &
director of PsyAsia International, an HR training, consulting & assessment organization with
offices in Hong Kong and Singapore & clients globally.
Please visit PsyAsia at http://www.psyasia.com and http://www.psychometricassessment.com