Canada: "Psychometric" Tests Can Help In Hiring, Managing Staff But Employers Must Note Potential Practical And Legal Issues

Last Updated: December 4 2015
Article by Christopher McClelland

Employers use many tools in assessing potential applicants, such as reviewing resumes, performing reference checks and conducting interviews. The review process continues for existing employees through performance evaluations, "360 degree" feedback systems and internal job competitions.

Some employers have taken this process a step further by introducing psychometric testing into the workplace. This involves using formal tests that assess the personality profiles and aptitudes of employees or potential employees. One of the best-known examples is the Myers-Briggs questionnaire, which classifies individuals as one of 16 different personality types. However, there is a myriad of other instruments and tools available. The goal of psychometric testing in the workplace is to provide objective information about an individual's personality, behaviour and abilities that enables the employer to make more effective decisions.

Generally speaking, there are four ways that an employer can use psychometric testing:

  1. Hiring and promotion

    1. Screening: By having job applicants complete some form of psychometric testing as part of the application process, an employer can use the results of the test as one factor to consider in deciding who to select for consideration. This can be beneficial when dealing with a large number of applications, such as responses to entry-level positions that were advertised widely.
    2. Selection: Psychometric testing can also be used later in the hiring process to differentiate among candidates that have been shortlisted for a position. For managerial and executive-level positions, this may involve a more comprehensive, multi-stage testing process.
  2. Development and assessment

    1. Informational: Employers may encourage employees to take psychometric tests to increase their awareness both with respect to their own personality type and how they may differ from colleagues with other personality types. This can be the basis for a team-building exercise, as a way to improve communication between employees, and to address conflict in the workplace.
    2. Decision-making: Alternatively, employers can use psychometric testing to help make decisions about employees that may have an impact on their role in the organization. For example, the testing may indicate that certain employees have an aptitude for certain types of work or for leadership positions.

Although psychometric testing is widely used in a variety of industries, there is a number of issues that an employer should consider when deciding whether to implement it in the workplace.

Some of the potential concerns are practical. For example, there are numerous types of psychometric tests available, and an employer will need to devote significant time and resources to choosing the tests that best meet its particular needs. Once a particular set of tests has been chosen, care must be taken to ensure that the test is properly administered. Finally, over-reliance on psychometric testing at the expense of other methods of assessment can result in the inadvertent screening out of strong candidates.

In addition to the practical concerns, there are also legal issues that an employer must take into account:

  1. Human rights: Human rights legislation prohibits employers from making decisions relating to employees or prospective employees based on grounds of discrimination, such as place of origin, religious belief, family status or disability. Employers are generally aware that they should, for example, refrain from questioning job applicants about their religious beliefs or their mental health background. However, certain types of psychometric testing can lead to a human rights complaint if it results in an individual or group of individuals being classified or "screened out" of an employment opportunity on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination. For example:

    1. Direct discrimination: A psychometric test may include direct questions about, or indirectly reveal information related to, an individual's mental health, family relationships or religious beliefs. This raises two concerns. First, an individual who is denied an employment opportunity may complain that the decision was related, at least in part, to a human rights ground. Second, an employer that becomes aware that an individual has human rights-related needs, such as a disability, has a potential obligation to accommodate that disability to the point of undue hardship.
    2. Indirect discrimination: In other cases, a psychometric test used by an employer may be criticized for having the effect of excluding a group of persons on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination, such as race or ethnic background. This can be particularly problematic with tests that are intended to measure whether an individual has leadership potential or "fits" within the culture of an organization.
  2. Privacy: By their very nature, psychometric tests involve the collection of personal information about an individual. Particularly in the case of psychological or personality tests, the personal information that is obtained may be considered highly sensitive. Accordingly, it is important to take into consideration the privacy rights of the employees or prospective employees who are taking the tests. In that regard, an employer should clearly identify the purposes for collecting the information and ensure that the information collected relates to those purposes. Proper consents should be obtained before the tests are administered, and the information that is obtained should only be used in accordance with those consents. It would, for example, be inappropriate for an employer to obtain an employee's consent to administer a psychometric test in the guise of a team-building exercise and then, unbeknownst to the employee, use the results of that test to make decisions about which employees to promote. Finally, information that is obtained must be safeguarded to ensure that it is not improperly accessed or misused.

It is important that employers considering psychometric testing do their due diligence.

Any test that is used should be based on reputable research and must be able to withstand scrutiny from a human rights perspective. The implementation of the test should be done fairly and reasonably and should take into account privacy concerns.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, while psychometric testing can be a useful tool in making employment-related decisions, it is only one factor to consider, and should not be used as a substitute for the employer's exercise of its own judgment.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Christopher McClelland
In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions