Psychometric testing: What you need to know

Never underestimate the importance of personality…

For a number of businesses, finding the right candidate for a role involves more than simply sourcing someone with the right work experience and skills. A demonstration of their numerical and verbal ability, as well as their personality and how that will fit within the existing team, is a big part of the decision-making process.

One way of evaluating these is psychometric testing. But what exactly do these look like? And how can you best prepare? To help, we’ve put together some of the facts.

What is a psychometric test?

Psychometric tests allow employers to objectively test candidates, not based on their background or prior experience, but by measuring their personality, aptitude and general intelligence.

Similar to competency based interviews, there aren’t necessarily always right or wrong answers for most psychometric tests.

They simply require you to answer to the best of your abilities.

Why do employers use psychometric tests?

Whether it’s to evaluate how a candidate would perform in a client-facing position or to ensure that a new employee will be a good fit for the team, personality often plays a huge part in the recruitment process.

Rather than rely on regular interviews alone, where a candidate’s nerves could count against them, psychometric tests are a useful barometer in positioning personality by asking how you would behave in certain scenarios.

And, as all candidates are presented with the same tests and same conditions to complete them, it allows employers to make direct comparisons of how day-to-day tasks could be carried out by using a completely level playing field.

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What different types of psychometric tests are there?

There are two main types of psychometric tests: ability tests (also known as cognitive or aptitude tests) and behavioural personality tests.

Aptitude tests

Usually performed at the start of the interview process, aptitude or ability tests are used to evaluate how well a candidate will perform certain tasks which may be necessary for the role.

These often include logical reasoning, and are taken under exam conditions. They are strictly timed, and are also generally multiple choice. Results are standardised, meaning they will often be compared to other candidates who completed the tests under exactly the same conditions.

Examples of aptitude tests include:

  • Verbal tests
  • Numerical tests
  • Written communication, spelling or punctuation tests
  • Abstract reasoning tests

Here are some of our top tips for ability-based psychometric testing:

  • Look at the job description – Which attributes are highlighted as most important? If you need excellent written communication skills, for example, there’s a good chance you may be asked to demonstrate this, so make sure you’re suitably prepared.
  • Practice, practice, practice – There are a number of free practice tests out there to help you prepare for something you might see in the interview. Fill out as many as it takes for you to feel comfortable, and you should feel confident when the time comes.
  • Be honest – If you have any requirements which you’re worried will count against you in one of these types of tests, contact the employer directly or ask for an alternative testing method during the assessment.
  • Read the questions thoroughly – When you’re filling out the assessment, always re-read the question and don’t rush. Otherwise you may find yourself missing a vital piece of information and misrepresenting yourself to the recruiter.

Personality tests

Personality tests are used to help predict a candidate’s behaviour within an occupational context. Employers can then make a more informed choice about a candidate’s character traits and how they fit within the business.

As there are no set correct answers for questions used in personality testing, they often require less preparation than other types of tests. The recruiter simply wants you to answer honestly and give a good representation of how you would perform in each situation.

Here are some of our top tips for personality-based psychometric testing:

  • Be yourself – There are no right answers, and what might be a desirable response for one employer may not be for another. The best you can do is answer honestly, and do your best.
  • Don’t be too neutral – Part of answering honestly is not being afraid to say something wrong. Many candidates choose to play it safe with certain questions, and end up not helping their personalities stand out.
  • Don’t predict – Unfortunately, there is no way to predict what a recruiter really wants. Stay focused on your own answers and motivations throughout, and don’t be tempted to say what you think a recruiter wants you to hear.
  • Don’t panic – Psychometric tests won’t be enough to gain or lose you a job alone. They help inform an employer how you’d fit into the company, and build a profile of your personality.

Finally, always remember that although psychometric tests are meant to help sell yourself to an employer, they never work in isolation. Make sure you’re just as prepared for the rest of the interview as you are for any potential questions which may arise.

And, most importantly, relax. With all the right preparation and a little confidence, psychometric tests needn’t be anything to worry about.

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Have any psychometric based interview tips of your own? Share them with us below.