Psychometric testing – what you need to know

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We know that progressing through your application process can be daunting, especially when competition for undergraduate and graduate jobs is high. The more information you can get on challenging stages such as Psychometric testing, the better prepared you can be for them.

Psychometric Testing: What you need to know

You will undoubtedly come across psychometric tests during your job applications, the more you know about them, as well as why companies use them, will go a long way to help you prepare and perform to the best ability and get you through to the next stage of the process.

What are Psychometric tests?

Psychometric tests can help both you and potential employers gain insight into your personality and psychological thinking.  When applying for jobs, psychometric tests allow you to be assessed more fairly based on criteria relevant to the position.  The tests can help you find or demonstrate your strengths, and because the tests highlight your abilities, they can help you make career decisions in future.  For employers, these assessment tools are really useful when selecting or developing staff as they provide objective information about a candidate’s abilities and suitability for the demands of a particular job.  So more often than not, you will have to take the tests during your undergraduate or graduate job applications.

Why are they used?

Because they help employers understand whether a candidate is right for a particular role, either in terms of skillset or personality.  Developed by Occupational Psychologists, psychometric tests provide an objective way of measuring abilities and behaviours, as well as being a personal development tool indicating strengths and preferences. Using standardised tests makes them accurate, reliable and fair.

What are the different types of Psychometric tests?

Psychometric tests fall into two main categories: personality questionnaires, which try to measure aspects of your character, and aptitude tests, which measure your reasoning and cognitive ability (cognitive ability refers to the individual's capacity to think, reason, and problem solve).

Personality questionnaires explore the way you tend to react to, or prefer to deal with situations.  They focus on a variety of personality factors, such as how you like to think, how you relate to other people, your ability to deal with your own and others’ emotions and your drive and motivation to succeed.  Whilst the number of tests you may take may vary between different application processes, you’ll be asked questions in the same format - you’ll have to record how much you agree with a statement describing ways of feeling or acting on a scale of one to five (or Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree).There are no right or wrong answers so it’s important to answer openly and honestly to get an accurate measure of your personality and indication of your interests and values. Employers use this insight to clarify what fields of work may interest you, what factors make work worthwhile for you, and may help facilitate discussion at interviews. Aptitude tests are designed to test your ability to learn or understand.  These ‘intelligence’ tests consist of multiple choice questions you’ll have to answer in a given timeframe.  They often examine skills such as verbal, numerical, error checking, spatial, mechanical, diagrammatic or abstract reasoning.  Having a measure of these skills helps employers determine whether a candidate may have the right skillset for a given role.

These tests can feel really alien if you haven’t taken them before, so it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself and get comfortable with the format. There are plenty of sites you can use for practice tests including Saville Consulting, SHL Talent Measurement and practiceaptitudetests.com and it’s definitely worth spending time doing this so that you are better prepared when the time comes to complete them in an application process.

Top Tips

  • Brush up on your skills.  The best way to improve your aptitude test results is to improve your underlying ability. For numerical reasoning, practice basic mental arithmetic with and without a calculator. For verbal reasoning, practice extracting and summarising the main points from passages of information.
  • Always read the instructions carefully and make full use of the examples provided.
  • Work through aptitude tests quickly and accurately.
  • Answer behavioural questionnaires openly and honestly.
  • Make sure you are relaxed, well rested and have no distractions.

 

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