What is Psychometric Testing and How Can You Prepare for it?

Imagine the scenario. You’ve found the job of your dreams and spent hours perfecting your resume and cover letter. Then, you receive an invitation to sit a series of psychometric tests to assess your suitability for the role. The prospect of these scary-sounding tests can throw even seasoned professionals off balance during their job search. So, what exactly are they? And what can you do to increase your chances of success at this stage of the selection process?

There are two main types of psychometric tests: aptitude tests and personality/behavioural tests. Aptitude tests include numerical and verbal reasoning tests, error checking tests and deductive reasoning tests, among others. They are designed to assess your ability to think and reason, problem solve, and quickly learn new skills. Time duration for tests can vary, with each one generally lasting up to 20 minutes; they may involve multiple choice or short written answers.

Here’s an example of a deductive reasoning test:

Which two statements together prove that Steve has black hair?

  1. A) Amy likes Steve’s hair colour
  2. B) Steve likes long hair
  3. C) Amy has long hair
  4. D) Amy likes only black hair
  5. E) Steve’s hair is not brown

Answer: A & D

Personality tests highlight specific traits and behaviours that help recruiters match you to a role. Again, test format and content may vary and may include personality questionnaires, situational judgement tests and motivation tests.

In a statement-based personality test, you will be asked the extent to which you agree with a series of statements, e.g.

‘I sometimes make mistakes’ or ‘I like working with other people’

A rating scale is provided for your responses, where 1 is ‘I strongly disagree with the statement’ and 5 is ‘I strongly agree with the statement’.

Psychometric tests been used by recruiters for a long time, especially for executive and senior management roles. Increasingly, however, they are included in the selection process for a wide range of positions. The tests are considered to be a scientifically valid selection tool and reliable predictor of performance on the job, especially when they are used alongside other selection methods, such as interviews and assessment centres.

Here are 10 ways to prepare for them:

  1. Read through job applications in detail before applying for a role. Often, recruiters will provide an overview of their selection process at this stage. If psychometric tests are listed, see if you can find out more. What types of tests are involved? Through which assessment provider?
  2. Practise! Familiarise yourself with the relevant aptitude and personality tests by practising online. Many assessment providers have practice tests available. By working your way through them, you’ll feel more confident when it comes to the real thing.
  3. Ensure you are well rested before any tests. A clear mind and ability to focus are essential when sitting any test or examination, and psychometric tests are no exception.
  4. Find a quiet space where you will be free from interruptions – from children, cats, dogs, mobile phones, etc. – for the duration of the tests.
  5. Read through the instructions carefully. You may have the opportunity to answer a couple of practice questions before you launch into the actual test. You may also be entitled to use special equipment, such as a calculator.
  6. Work quickly and efficiently. The aim is to answer as many questions as you can in the given timeframe.
  7. Be true to yourself. Personality and behavioural tests are designed to catch out candidates who attempt to ‘game’ the system by pretending to be someone they aren’t. Consistency and honesty are key.
  8. Move on if you get stuck. You may have the chance to return to unanswered questions later.
  9. If you don’t finish, don’t worry! Not all psychometric tests are designed to be completed in their entirety.
  10. Ask your recruiter for feedback on your performance. Particularly if you’ve been unsuccessful at reaching the next stage of the selection process, this information can help guide your career search and future applications.

We hope you find these tips helpful. If you’re interested in finding out more, why not try your hand at some example questions provided by SHL, a leading talent assessment provider: https://www.shl.com/shldirect/en/assessment-advice/example-questions

Good luck!