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Psychometric Tests ::

Psychometric tests are often used by employers as one of their selection methods. There are two main types: 

  • aptitude tests assess your abilities

  • personality questionnaires give a profile of your personality.

Employers may use these tests at various points in their selection process. Some use them early on, perhaps interviewing only those who achieve a certain score in an aptitude test. Others use them later, towards the final stages of their selection process.

Aptitude tests

These are multiple choice questions, given under exam conditions with strict time limits. They assess your powers of logical reasoning and the questions have definite right and wrong answers.

If an employer asks you to sit an aptitude test, this will typically have two or three separate sections. There are lots of different types, but typically one part will measure verbal reasoning, another numerical reasoning, and perhaps a third will measure spatial or diagrammatic reasoning.

To get a good score you have to do better than the 'norm group', which is likely to be people successfully doing the job you are applying for. You don't know what the standard is, but a rough rule of thumb might be that you should aim to complete 70% to 80% of the questions, and get most of them (say 70% to 80%) right.

Some tips

  • See if your Careers Service runs practice test sessions.

  • Reach the test location in good time, well rested, and in a positive frame of mind.

  • At the start of the test, quickly work out how much time you have for each question. Put your watch in front of you, jot down the finish time, and work with 'quiet urgency'. Keep aware of the time as you work through the questions.

  • You need to be both quick and accurate. The faster you go, the more errors you may make; the slower you go, the fewer questions you have the time to answer.

  • If you get stuck on a question, don't spend too long on it, but move on to the next one. However, don't abandon a question prematurely, if with a few extra seconds you might have solved it. You have to get the balance right and achieve a rhythm where you don't get bogged down. On the other hand don't skim over questions in too superficial a way.

  • Resist the temptation to check each answer thoroughly until you are absolutely convinced it is right: you will waste too much time if you do.

  • If you aren't sure of an answer, bear in mind that you won't have time to come back to it later, so put down your best guess and move on. However, avoid wild guessing - in some tests marks are taken off for wrong answers.

  • Sometimes the questions get harder as you work through them. Later questions might therefore take longer to answer than the earlier ones. So it's important not to fall too far behind the clock: time lost on the first few items is almost impossible to make up, Of course, early on you are getting the hang of the questions, but don't dawdle.

  • If calculators are allowed, use your own - you are familiar with how it works.

  • The test will have some practice questions at the start. Make sure you understand these thoroughly before the test itself begins.

  • Finally, try not to be overawed by the formal nature of the test, or to be panicked by the time pressure.

Personality questionnaires

These are used to see how you react to different situations. They measure a variety of personal qualities, usually characteristics such as how determined you are and your social skills. The questionnaires are usually untimed, but you will be asked to put down your first reaction to the questions and not spend time pondering their meaning.

Some tips

You won't know exactly what personal qualities the selectors are looking for. Quite often they are looking for a variety of different personalities rather than just one 'profile'.

Many employers want candidates with a balance of different personal qualities: for example, being able to get on with people, take charge and organise, be persistent and determined.

The particular requirements of the job you are applying for might give a clue to the qualities the employer seeks. For example, a sales job may look for people who enjoy meeting new people, while a job where you have to analyse information may favour those who like paying attention to detail. These differing requirements might be reflected in slightly different profiles which the employer will look for.

However, don't be too clever. There may be checks within the questionnaire to detect whether you are giving a false picture of yourself. In addition, the employer is unlikely to be looking for just one personality type. The best advice is probably to 'be yourself'.

Further information

  • How to Pass Graduate Recruitment Tests, Kogan Page

  • How to Succeed in Psychometric Tests, Sheldon Business Books


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