Psychometric Testing – What You Need to Know

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Getting a job isn’t simply a matter of writing a letter and going to an interview anymore. Most employers have a whole host of checks which they want to carry out on prospective employees, from getting a DBS disclosure check to checking the facts on their CV. One of the most tried and tested ways of evaluating applicants is to put them through psychometric testing. Most job hunters will have heard the term but just what does it mean – and should you be scared of them?


Personality and Intelligence

The idea behind psychometric testing is to look at the candidate’s personality and style, and to give clues about how good they are at problem solving, decision making and their basic level of intelligence. These tests aren’t job-specific, with the same tests being used by employers across a wide range of industries. You can’t pass or fail a psychometric test. The personality tests will result in a report which identifies qualities such as leadership or decision making. In the numerical and verbal reasoning tests, the results are expressed in a percentile, which is just a mathematical way of comparing how well you performed against the population in general, or against other people taking the test at the same time.


Can I Study for the Tests?

Personality tests are designed to identify your core personality and motivations and are usually answered on a scale. There’s no real way of studying for these tests and as you’re never sure exactly what the employers are looking for, there’s no point in trying to “throw” the tests. Not every employer is looking for someone with strong leadership potential, for example. Just be honest and answer the question with the response which feels fits best with your personality.

The numerical and verbal reasoning tests can be studied, and it’s more about familiarising yourself with the format of the questions and looking through a few practice papers to know what to expect on the day. Reading extensively and trying to expand your vocabulary might help with the English language side of the tests, as will looking at graphs, tables, and other ways of expressing data for the maths tests. There are lots of sites online which provide sample questions or whole papers. One important issue in testing is often time management. Many candidates who haven’t been through psychometric assessment before find they run out of time before they’ve done the paper.


Part of the Decision-Making Process

Employers will never just use psychometric testing as a way of deciding who to employ. The information revealed in the test results will be considered along with the results of the interview, the experience and qualifications held by the candidate, and other factors to decide who should be offered the position. Unsuccessful candidates might be able to ask for their results from the psychometric element but as these results are rarely the sole reason for not employing, don’t spend too long over-analysing your performance.