For many of the candidates I see here at DAV, the prospect of psychometric testing is a daunting one. I’d like to reassure you: there’s very little to be worried about. Recruiters and employers use these to give a more rounded and objective understanding of a candidate’s behavioural and cognitive suitability for the job.
They give you another opportunity, beyond the interview and your CV, to demonstrate your skills. Certain skills, such as problem-solving or spatial ability, are in fact better demonstrated through testing.
Psychometric tests are divided into roughly 3 categories:
Aptitude/ability tests. These will be timed and will measure your ability in a specific area such as numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, logical reasoning or abstract reasoning. Employers use these to test your ability in a job-relevant area in order to assess your potential for that job.
Personality types. These have no right or wrong answers and are not strictly timed. They assess aspects of personality such as typical behaviour, preferences, interests and motivations. They are used to gain additional information about your suitability and ‘fit’ for a job. They can also be used in career planning and career development to help you understand more about yourself.
Learning styles. Everyone learns in a different way and questionnaires can help a potential employer assess your preferred learning style.
My best advice for anyone when taking a psychometric test is to relax and be yourself. Good tests are set up to pick up on any inconsistencies so don’t try and ‘put on an act’ for the personality sections of psychometric tests.
Beyond that, here’s my take on how to be prepared:
Practice makes perfect. Unfamiliarity with this kind of test, along with nerves, can sometimes lead to underperformance. Avoid this by taking practice tests before hand – http://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/psychotests.htm is just one of many websites out there where you can do so.
Find out the type of psychometric test questions you need to practice. Not all jobs get the same test questions. The level of difficulty and complexity will vary based on the job you are applying for. A test for a management position is likely to have more difficult questions than that for an entry role. Ask the potential employer what type of tests you will be taking and whether they have any sample questions to help you practice.
Know what to expect. The tests may be given in the potential workplace, or at a testing facility. Read the attendance instructions carefully and be sure you know where to go. Also, read any instructions about the test itself to learn what you can about the types of questions, the timing permitted, and the sequences the testing will be provided in.
Be in good physical and mental shape. You need to be at your best to produce good results in psychometric testing. Tiredness is likely to severely harm your scores so make sure you are well rested and try to take decent breaks in between aptitude tests to ensure you regain your energy. Have a good attitude towards the tests themselves: they are not there to discriminate or put you down in any way.
Practice working against the clock. All aptitude sections in psychometric tests are timed. Practicing against the clock will get you used to answering a lot of questions in a short space of time and to learn to balance speed and accuracy.
Review basic maths. Think of possible mathematical operations that could be required and practise them. Brush up on reading tables and graphs as well.
Improve your vocabulary and comprehension by reading. Look up the meaning of words you are unsure of. Practise reasoning through what is clearly true or untrue from passages of information. Review your understanding of grammar and practise spotting associations between words or types of words.
Be familiar with any tools you’ll be allowed to use during the test. Most numeric tests will let you use a calculator, and many of us haven’t used one in a while! Familiarise yourself with the different types of calculator operations and functions ahead of the test.
Get the best answer down and move on. Don’t spend too much time on a single question. Doing that would waste the opportunity of another 6 questions at 20 seconds each (easy questions score the same as hard ones)! Just keep working through and if you have time left, come back to the harder questions and skipped ones. These tests are designed in a way that only 1 – 2% of people who take such a test can actually finish it. However, you don’t have to complete all the test questions to get a perfect score.
As daunting as psychometric tests seem, the key to success and achieving a top score is practice and preparation. See them realistically: if you’re not the best fit, you’re better off not working in this work environment. It doesn’t reflect on your worth as a person.
As always if we can help in any way, please get in touch.