Some of Britain’s biggest companies and government departments have started using a new form of “deep” psychological profiling to assess job applicants.
The online assessment asks candidates a series of questions such as “Have you ever had an imaginary twin?” in order to uncover “subconscious latent potential” and weed out job hunters who look good on paper but may perform less well in the office.
The developers say that the 30-minute questionnaire can also reveal underlying motivations and mental health problems.
It asks more than 50 questions, including “When you have done something well, who do you want to know?” and “Remember the moment when you first lost out to a rival. What did you do?” It also examines how people handle conflicts with their family, friends and partners. The researchers say that talking about an imaginary twin allows people to provide insights about themselves that they may otherwise have chosen to keep hidden.
Curly Moloney, one of the founders of The Cambridge Code, said: “Each question tells us a small thing but when put with other answers it becomes a small jigsaw piece in a big picture.”
She added that the test could pick up traits such as inner drive, which does not usually become apparent until after several months in the job. She also believes it can help women in particular.
“I’ve come across many female chief executives who are great at running a company, but don’t interview well,” she said. “I think this is why a lot of women don’t end up on boards, even though they would be very good at it.”
The team created the test after analysing responses and tracking the careers of more than 10,000 people. “The tool is proven to uncover the subconscious latent potential and wellbeing present in all of us, but lies beyond the reach of established psychological measurement,” the company’s website says.
The company says that the test helps to show how flexible and resilient candidates are, their drive and potential and how they deal with authority, which are necessary skills in the modern workplace but are hard to uncover in interviews. It also seeks to establish how good applicants are at managing people and dealing with rivalries.
“To make it to the top of an organisation or a senior leadership role, an individual needs to be able to make tough decisions and to have the capacity to live with the consequences of their actions. In most individuals this element of ‘steel’ or ruthlessness is contained but can flash when necessary,” the company says.
The Cambridge Code does not reveal which companies use its techniques but Dr Moloney says she has worked with a third of FTSE 100 companies as well as governments at home and abroad. The company hopes that the test will also be used in doctors’ surgeries to give a rapid assessment of mental health conditions in patients.