Psychometric tests are being increasingly applied by companies and organisations in the evaluation of candidates applying for jobs. Psychometrics is the application of statistical and mathematical techniques to psychological testing. The psychometric tests can be applied at all levels of hiring, from graduate trainees to front-line customer service officers, from experienced consultants to chief executive officers. SHL Hong Kong is a company that offers psychometric testing services. 'Since we established ourselves in Hong Kong in 1986, we have experienced an upward demand for our services,' says SHL Hong Kong consulting director, Greater China, Colleen Durant. 'The number of employing organisations has increased, and their profiles have shifted over the years. Besides serving multinational corporations, we also work with a number of Chinese-owned corporations.' SHL has served more than 5,500 business, non-profit and government organisations around the globe. The company, which is a world leader in the design and implementation of competency-based assessment and development tools, focuses on several key areas: developing management capability; assessments and development for senior leadership; competency design; assessment strategy and online assessment tools; succession management/career development workshops, and general training and development. All these 'people solutions' are designed and handled by professional psychologists and human resources experts to help organisations in talent management. Of this wide range of services, the assessment-development tools and solutions are the most widely used in the Greater China region. In particular, psychometric tests (one of the assessment tools) are seen as part of the recruitment exercises. Ms Durant says the assessment exercises are used in various industries and job functions. Customer service officers in banks, graduate trainees in corporations and engineers in manufacturing are examples of employee types that may be asked to take psychometric testing. The testing method helps to screen out thousands of job applications, Ms Durant says. Psychometric tests evaluate candidates' aptitude and ability, personality, motivation and interest areas. Hiring corporations can use the test analysis to get a picture of how well the candidates can do the job, how much they might like the job, what motivates them, and what industry or type of organisation they would best fit into. Such information helps employers to make recruiting decisions. It can also help them predict who will be the best job performers, who will stay longest, and who are the most motivated. In the case of more senior-level recruits, the executive assessment service improves the chances of successfully hiring leaders (corporations have found that standard interviews can be limited in selecting and developing top-tier people). Shortlisted candidates are invited to follow a whole-day assessment exercise with SHL. The candidate takes a numeric reasoning test, does a business strategies exercise, and makes a presentation on a case study. The exercise also gives a picture of the candidates' personality and likely behaviour in the context of an organisation. The panel of judges compile a report on the applicants' competency levels, and advise on their 'fitness' for the hiring organisation. Candidates are rarely excited about the assessment exercise before taking one, Ms Durant says. 'But at the end of the day, they are usually impressed by the practical nature of the test and its relevance to the job they hope to take. Plus, they realise how serious the hiring organisations are about selection.' The company says its services complement firms focused on senior-level hiring. 'We both specialise in our competency areas. They focus on searching and identifying the right candidates, while we focus on the fitness and core competencies of the candidates.' A well-rested mind is a distinct advantage for candidates who might be asked to take the tests: 'Don't be anxious. Be calm and comfortable,' Ms Durant says. Be sure to have a good night's sleep before the test, she adds.