August 15, 2023

Would You Hire a Psychologist to Assess Candidates?

A while back I met with as HR consultant who works with large companies. In the course of our conversation he remarked, "Many of my clients believe that only a clinical psychologist can be expert in candidate assessment."

I laughed. “Really?” I said. “That strikes me as ridiculous.” It would strike many of my clients as ridiculous, too.

A degree in physical education doesn’t make an athlete, a business degree doesn’t automatically lead to success in business, and a psychology degree does not guarantee its holder has any special insight into people. (In fact, there’s a stereotype that psychologists have below average people skills, but that’s another story.)

Candidate assessment is not a skill people learn in school. It comes from experience. Sure, a psychologist could become an expert in candidate assessment through hard work and practice, just like anyone else, but the degree is irrelevant. In fact, it could be a disadvantage if the psychologist buys into the lie that his degree gives him assessment superpowers.

All this raises an obvious question — why do some people believe this to be true? I don’t have the answer, but suspect it’s related to an aversion to risk and a desire to pass responsibility for decision making to an outside “expert.”

Be deeply skeptical of anyone who claims expertise solely based on letters after her name. When it comes to recruiting, experience trumps everything.

A psychology degree does not guarantee its holder has any special insight into people.

of Praise

Mike does an outstanding job from start to close. He ran a thorough, efficient and professional process. Most importantly, he identified and helped close the best candidate for the job. Highly encourage anyone to consider Mike.

— Tom Bassinger, Managing Director, Rockport Venture Partners