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Psychometric Tests: Everything You Need to Know

For many employers, the process of finding the right candidate for a job vacancy is becoming more than a simple interview to assess a candidate’s skills and work experience. Rather, many employers are turning to psychometric tests. These tests allow candidates to demonstrate their numerical and verbal reasoning, as well as their personality traits in an unbiased format. This can seem daunting at first but it shouldn’t be – practice is the key to success with psychometric tests. To help, we’ve put together some of the facts to help you ace your next psychometric test.

What is a psychometric test?

Psychometric tests allow employers to objectively test candidates by measuring their cognitive and reasoning abilities, personality, and general intelligence. These tests are considered objective because they do not factor in a candidate’s prior experience or background. Interviews can understandably place candidates under a lot of stress, making it more difficult to gauge whether they would be a good fit for a company, or how they would fare in a customer-facing situation. Psychometric tests are often the answer to this as they can be useful in assessing personality traits by asking candidates how they would behave in various scenarios. There aren’t always right or wrong answers for psychometric tests because they are often used to measure personality traits.

What are the different types of psychometric tests?

There are two main categories of psychometric tests: aptitude tests (also known as ability tests or cognitive tests) and personality tests (also known as behavioural tests).

Aptitude tests

Usually conducted at the beginning of the interview process, aptitude tests are designed to evaluate a candidates cognitive and reasoning abilities, and how well they can perform tasks which may be necessary for the role. Aptitude tests are usually completed online, but some employers may require you to complete the test on a printed answer sheet. Aptitude tests are often strictly timed with standardised results, meaning that answers will be compared against other candidates who have taken the same tests.

Examples of aptitude tests include:

  • Diagrammatic reasoning – also known as abstract reasoning tests, this type of test involves shapes and symbols. Candidates will be asked to either identify the missing symbol or carry on the sequence.

  • Situational reasoning – Situational reasoning tests present candidates with hypothetical scenarios, usually with the task of resolving the problem using multiple choice answers.

  • Numerical reasoning – These tests evaluate a candidate’s logic and reasoning through the use of statistics and graphs.

  • Verbal reasoning – Candidates will be asked to read a piece of text and answer some questions about it, often in a ‘true’ or ‘false’ format.

To prepare for an ability-based psychometric test, ensure that you thoroughly read the job description first. Figure out which skills and attributes are most important to the employer – for example, if the role requires excellent conflict resolution skills, there’s a high chance you may be asked to demonstrate this during the test. There are a vast number of free practice tests available online to help you prepare before taking the actual test. Take as many practice tests as you need to feel comfortable and prepared.

Personality tests

Unlike aptitude tests, personality tests have no right or wrong answers and there is rarely a time limit. Employers use personality tests to gain a better understanding of your personality traits and how you might fit into the workplace. Personality tests usually ask questions about how you prefer to work, often asking the same question in several different ways. This is to ensure that you aren’t answering how you believe you should answer and to give consistency.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which employs the psychological theories of Carl Jung, is the most commonly used personality test. This test is extremely popular online, so you can take a test in advance if you feel this is necessary. However, there are no right or wrong answers for these tests so it isn’t necessary to prepare in advance or perfect your answers. The employer simply wants you to answer honestly and give an accurate representation of how you would behave in each hypothetical scenario.

When faced with a personality-based psychometric test, it’s crucial that you avoid trying to predict what an employer wants. Stay focused on being yourself and making your characteristics and motivations clear throughout the test. Don’t be tempted to give neutral answers; part of answering truthfully is not being afraid to say something wrong. How you fare in personality-based psychometric tests won’t be enough to decide your fate when applying a job, so don’t be afraid to let your personality stand out.

Preparing for psychometric tests

The only sure-fire way to prepare for psychometric tests is to take some online practice tests. There are several sites online where you can practice aptitude-based psychometric tests, such as Practice Aptitude Tests, Assessment Day and Job Test Prep. Taking these tests before the actual assessment will allow you to get a sense of the format, style of questioning and how you need to manage your time efficiently. Ensure that you complete your preparation well in advance and give yourself a night to relax before the test. If you’re feeling stressed, give some of these mindfulness techniques a go.

We’re here to help and support you throughout your job search journey – if you would like to get in touch with our team to discuss job opportunities you can do so by calling us on 028 9099 5808, or you can browse our latest vacancies here.


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