This is my latest article featured in the Financial Mail section of the Mail on Sunday - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/
All the CVs I receive look great, but how can I tell if someone will be any good under pressure?
The best way to pre-screen employees is to use psychometric testing. This was the advice I was once given by Sir Philip Trousdell, whose army career included running the NATO operation in Bosnia and acting as Commandant at Sandhurst.
He explained that the British Army had been using psychometric testing effectively since the 1940s, so I have spent the last ten years looking at the various different systems. My conclusion is that while all of them map onto each other in their general conclusions and none are absolutely perfect for every situation or candidate, they do have significant merit.
Psychometrics should always be used in conjunction with a rigorous interview process. Even if a candidate passes both of these with flying colours, there should also be a formal probationary period, to see whether they do actually deliver on mutually agreed and measurable performance criteria.
By far the most important output of psychometric testing is how people behave in a team environment. Sometimes the best candidates on paper can have poor 'emotional intelligence', defined as the ability to identify, assess, and control one's own and others' feelings.
For entrepreneurs adding new people to their initial group of close friends, psychometric testing is also vital for their own self-awareness. All successful entrepreneurs exhibit both the good and bad sides of their character simultaneously.
You need confidence to start a business, but success can lead to arrogance. Charismatic people can become tempted into manipulation. Hard work can easily lead to overwork and attention to detail can become obsessive behaviour.
Wise entrepreneurs complete all the psychometric tests they impose on others, read the outputs carefully and take advice from a trusted mentor about the negative sides of their character.
Once a business model is proven it is all about execution: hiring and managing the best people. Entrepreneurs are notoriously poor at people management, and while an absolute certainty of their own rectitude is essential when starting out, this can destroy the company later on.
Psychometric testing will help them not only find the best staff, but also to understand their own strengths and weaknesses.