What is a psychometric test?
Psychometric tests are increasingly being used in the recruitment process, especially by larger companies that need to screen lots of applicants for the same position. These tests are a quick way for an employer to gain an understanding of your personality, skills and intelligence.
The tests you are assigned will depend on the role that you are applying for but will generally look at your ability to process different types of information and how you work with other people. These results can then help the recruiter decide whether or not you are the right fit for the role and the company.
These kinds of tests have been around for more than a hundred years and as they have evolved into the more accurate psychometric tests used today, they have become a regular feature in recruitment processes.
Employers, therefore, have the opportunity to assess candidates on their future potential rather than employment history or educational background. Psychometric tests are often used as one of the preliminary stages of the recruitment process and are often taken online or at an assessment centre.
What to expect in a psychometric test
Employers tend to explore three main areas with psychometric tests: personality, aptitude, and skills. Therefore, you may be asked to complete several tests to give an idea of how you perform in each of these areas.
The tests will usually take place online or at an assessment centre. Some employers still use paper tests so it’s worth finding out the format beforehand so you can familiarise yourself with it.
The tests themselves usually come in a multiple-choice format. The tests that are designed to look at your skills and aptitude will normally have a time-limit attached. However, personality tests usually give you as much time as you need to relieve some of the pressure so you can answer honestly.
Types of psychometric test
- Abstract reasoning: These are sometimes known as inductive reasoning tests or diagrammatic reasoning tests. These tests are designed to assess your logical reasoning and your ability to learn new things quickly. They do this by analysing your response to patterns, diagrams and charts. You will usually have to choose the next pattern in a series by identifying a set of rules. These sorts of tests are particularly common for technical roles, such as engineering.
- Verbal reasoning: This kind of psychometric test looks at the way you process written information and communication. You will often be given a passage of text and a series of questions based on this information. Your answers will reveal your ability to analyse information and come to an informed conclusion or decision. Sometimes the test will also assess your standard of spelling and grammar, so be sure to be as accurate as possible.
- Numerical psychometric tests: These tests can be used to assess how you deal with numerical data from a very basic level to much more advanced problems. You will often be given a series of graphs, statistics or reports and you’ll be asked questions based on these.
- Logical reasoning: These are sometimes known as deductive reasoning tests. These evaluate your ability to reach a conclusion by presenting you with some information and assessing your response.
These tests focus on your ability to carry out the role you are applying for more directly than the aptitude tests explored above. For example, you might be given a task which involves solving a mechanical fault if you were applying to be an engineer. If you were applying for a role as a member of cabin crew, you might be given a task to resolve an issue with a tricky passenger.
Personality psychometric tests are important in helping recruiters evaluate how you approach tasks and how you work with others. This will give them an indication as to whether you are suited to the role, the company and how likely you would be to stay in the role for an extended period.
There are no right or wrong answers to these kinds of tests and you will have no way of knowing exactly what they are looking for, so it is important to be honest with your answers. Sometimes your results will be cross-referenced with those of employees already at the business to get an idea of how you would fit in.
One of the most common personality tests is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). This test consists of questions about a variety of scenarios and how you would respond to them. Your results will then assign you to one of 16 personality types.
Psychometric test practice
There are several ways that you can prepare for psychometric testing and it is generally advised that you do some practice beforehand, even if you only do some basic questions.
- Make sure you know what type of tests are coming up. This involves finding out whether you are going to be given aptitude tests, skills tests or personality tests. You will also want to find out the format the tests will take so you can practice either on-screen or paper versions of the test.
- Find out if you will be negatively marked. Whether or not you will be penalised for incorrect answers should have an impact on your strategy. If you won’t be negatively marked, you should aim to answer as many questions within the time limit as you can. If you will be, you should be much more careful with questions you aren’t sure about. Sometimes it will be better to leave the answer blank.
- Doing some practice tests is likely to improve your performance in the real thing. Here are some sites that offer some practice tests:
Advantages and disadvantages of psychometric tests
- The tests are objective, removing any element of human bias.
- They can be a great benefit for those that don’t tend to perform well at interview as the test results will be able to help them stand out.
- The tests have been proven to give a generally accurate prediction as to how a candidate will perform in a role.
- On the other hand, if you are the type of person who gets nervous in the face of exams and tests, you may not perform as well as you could if the process only involved an interview.
- The results, however accurate, can’t paint a complete picture of a candidate.
- If you try and give the answers that you think the employer is looking for, the results will be inaccurate.
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