When I tell people I’m a Business Psychologist that helps companies choose the right people for key roles, many respond with, “Oh, you’re a Recruiter”. Recruiters can play an important part in the hiring process, but what Business Psychologist do is very different.
To make a simple comparison, Recruiters are like Real Estate Agents, and Business Psychologists are like Home Inspectors:
Anyone who has searched for a home knows about Real Estate Agents. They’re adept at understanding what’s available on the market and providing properties to choose from. The best Real Estate Agents understand your needs and find homes that meet your criteria (while the worst agents are “salesy” and try to convince you that whatever homes they have are what you really need). Recruiters work in a similar way. They’re usually well-networked and provide a variety of job applicants for you to choose from.
In contrast, Home Inspectors are adept at appraising a property and evaluating if it has any problems (e.g., cracks in the foundation). They have special training, tools, and techniques for testing the home and objectively assessing its value so you can “know what you’re getting” when making a buying decision. Business Psychologists work in a similar way. They use psychometric assessments, interview techniques, and other methods (e.g., Assessment Centers) to provide an objective evaluation of a candidate so you can “know what you’re getting” when making a hiring decision.
Finally, it’s important to consider the difference between how Recruiters and Business Psychologists are incentivized. Recruiters get paid for placing candidates. Just like Real Estate Agents, they get a commission for getting you to say, “Yes, I’ll take it” (sometimes equal to as much as 20% of a candidate’s starting salary). However, Business Psychologists get paid for correctly screening candidates. Just like Home Inspectors, they don’t get paid any more for swaying your decision one way or another. Rather, Business Psychologists get repeat business by being objective and providing the information you need to make wise hiring and promotion decisions.