A candidate’s guide to psychometric tests
A candidate’s guide to psychometric tests
Psychometrics tests are used for recruitment, selection and development in many roles and professions, yet people who are faced with taking a test often don’t know what to expect and for some, it is an intimidating prospect. This guide outlines what psychometric tests are, the different types of test used, why they are used and how to approach sitting a psychometric test.
What are psychometric tests?
Psychometric tests are increasingly used by employers to help make decisions regarding recruitment and selection and also to assist with training and development. Psychometric tests can be used to measure a person’s ability (ability or aptitude tests) or preferred style of working (personality questionnaires).
Ability or aptitude tests are often used as part of the recruitment process to help with short listing candidates for an interview or assessment centre. Tests can help to assess a variety of skills including a person’s written, verbal, mathematical, or spatial ability and can help potential employers establish a new employee’s suitability for the role. There are hundreds of different ability tests that measure a range of skills and the number of questions in each test and the length of time in which the test is completed can also vary a great deal.
Ability tests can either be taken online or using a pencil and paper. The way in which a person completes their ability test will vary from company to company but all candidates should be fully informed about the process, before, during and after sitting an ability test.
Unlike ability tests, there is no right or wrong answers when it comes to completing a personality questionnaire. Also used as part of the selection, they give potential employers an idea about a person’s preferred style of working. For example:
- Does a person like to work as part of a team or do they prefer to work in isolation or a mix of the two
- Does a person enjoy selling
- Does a person like to work in a structured or creative way
These are just a few example of what a personality questionnaire can measure. Like ability tests, there are many different questionnaires which canbe sat online or using a pencil and paper. They help employers gain a better understanding of how a person prefers to work. For example, there would be little point in employing somebody in a sales role if their personality questionnaire showed that they do not enjoy selling or using persuasion. Similarly, if a person showed a preference towards working in a creative and unstructured environment, then employing someone who responds well to structure may not be the best person for that particular job.
There is generally no time limit for completing a personality questionnaire although candidates are advised to work steadily and to not think about each response too much. Feedback for personality questionnaires is available to all who have completed one and can often form part of the interview or recruitment process although this can vary from company to company.
Why use psychometric tests?
Psychometric tests are increasingly being used for recruitment purposes and most people who are seeking employment at the moment will either know someone who has taken one or will have been asked to complete one. They are used in conjunction with application forms, CV’s and assessment centres to help potential employers gain additional information that may not be available from an application form or CV.
How to approach sitting a psychometric test
If you are asked to complete a psychometric test for a job application then:
- Don’t panic! They are not designed to catch you our or trick you. They are used to help ensure that people are selected for suitable jobs
- Ability tests – work though the questions as quickly and accurately as you can as there will be a time limit for completing the questionnaire
- Personality questionnaires – just be yourself and answer the questions honestly. Don’t try to second guess what employers are looking for. There are no right or wrong answers or right or wrong personality!
- Remember, all results are confidential and will only be shared with the HR department and recruiting line manager.