Employers must be careful not to unlawfully discriminate using psychometric tests
The Disability Discrimination Act, which came into force in 1995, requires employers to make reasonable adjustments to ensure a fair selection process for potential candidates. Given the growing popularity of aptitude tests within selection procedures, employers are expected to accommodate the needs of candidates whose test performance may be impacted by sensory impairments or other conditions.
People with dyslexia may be particularly disadvantaged by psychometric tests. Dyslexia is most commonly associated with impaired literacy skills; however, people may also present with difficulties in memory and speed of processing. As such, it is acknowledged that these candidates are at risk of performing poorly on psychometric tests if necessary amendments are not made, particularly on literacy-based tests (e.g. verbal reasoning tests). The inherent danger is that candidates with dyslexia will not be given the opportunity to demonstrate their true abilities, and therefore, their suitability for the vacant position.
What do the psychometric testing guidelines say?
With this in mind, the British Psychology Society (BPS) has developed guidelines to advise those administering psychometric tests to people with dyslexia: Dyslexia and Occupational Testing (BPS, 2006). This document recommends that employers:
- Provide all candidates with the opportunity to discuss difficulties that might impact on their test performance.
- Ask candidates with dyslexia about the specific nature and severity of their difficulties.
- Consider making necessary amendments which are specific to the individual needs of the candidate, e.g. additional time.
- Consult with a chartered psychologist or with the test publishers to discuss potential amendments which will not invalidate the test.
- Consider alternative methods of assessing the same skill, e.g. real-life work situations.
Click on the link to read the BPS guidelines in full: Dyslexia and Occupational Testing.