Psychometric tests simplified

Demystify psychometrics and reveal what these assessments actually involve and are being used to achieve.

A women's head surroned by question marks Psychometric assessments are used in today's workplace to assess a candidate's ability or potential to carry out a specific job effectively. By assessing a candidate's preferences, motivations, abilities and behaviours, companies are essentially trying to get the best possible person-to-job fit, which benefits all parties involved.

They work best when used in conjunction with other recruitment methods, such as face-to-face interviews to provide a fuller picture of a candidate and provide information which cannot be obtained from an interview, CV or application form alone.

By considering attributes such as whether you prefer to work by yourself or as part of a team, or if you are a creative thinker or more of a process-driven person, these assessments help to define whether you are the right person for the job and more importantly, that the job is playing to your strengths.

Types of test

Companies use a number of different tests depending on what a particular role involves.

Personality-based assessments or those used to measure motivation are designed to find out about your working behaviour, or the types of environment in which you like to work. These assessments ask questions which focus on different elements of your personality such as leading and deciding, interacting and presenting and organising and executing, and are used to give an indication of likely performance in a particular role, team or company culture.

Ability assessments, such as verbal or numerical reasoning, are designed to measure the extent to which you are able to perform specific tasks in a particular role. A typical numerical assessment, for example, asks a series of questions designed to assess how quickly and accurately you can solve numerical problems based on real business data. In a similar way, a typical verbal reasoning assessment will contain a paragraph of business-relevant text about which you must answers specific questions.

You should not worry about psychometric assessments - they are simply another valuable component of the recruitment process. So, with this in mind, how should you approach psychometric assessments? Here are some tips:

Consider

Before you even reach the assessment stage, it is important that you spend some time evaluating if the job is suitable for you, so take a good look at the job specification. By considering your own interests and motivations, you are more likely to find yourself in a role and company that you find satisfying and fulfilling. Ask yourself:

  • What are the demands and rewards offered by the job?
  • What does the job offer in terms of your own career prospects and interests?
  • Look at the organisation - do you think its values are ones with which you would feel comfortable?
  • Draw up a list of your strengths in relation to the job - is there a good fit?

Prepare

Preparation is key. Understanding the way in which assessments work, what is expected from you and in what format these assessments will take shape, will all help ensure that you are confident when it comes to taking the assessment. You can familiarise yourself with test questions available online, this will help you get to grips with the sort of questions you can expect.

Be accurate

Pay careful attention to the instructions you are given and don't be afraid to ask if you are unsure about what you have to do. Don't make assumptions about the way you should respond or try to tailor your answers to what you think is expected of you.

These tests are not designed to trick you, and it is in your best interests to answer honestly. For online ability tests - i.e. those completed unsupervised that have defined right or wrong answers - a number of companies also use follow up assessments to verify that it was actually you taking the test in the first place.

Be yourself

Most importantly, do the test under conditions in which you feel comfortable. Sit down, relax and try to do your best.