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Psychometric Testing

7 Jan 2016
Michelle Lownie

Guide to Psychometric Tests

Whilst job interviews may fill you with dread, psychometric testing kicks it up a notch. And why should you care about psychometric tests? Well over 70% of organisations are using them during the recruitment and selection process to ensure that they get the best candidate for the role.


It's likely to be something that most people will face at some point in their career, but don't panic this article will set you in the right direction to fully prepare for your test.


Testing takes people back to their studies where exam anxiety set in. For many preparing for an exam is something that they have not had to do for a number of years so the brain needs "warming up" to get into testing mode again. Like many things the reality is far less fearful than the actual and a little homework in advance will make all the difference.


Good practice dictates that your potential employer should provide you with some initial information, including:

  • The actual tests they will be using
  • Online / paper based practice questions
  • Where and how they will use them in the process and what weighting they will hold
  • Feedback on your results.


Psychometric tests fall into two main types: Personality Tests & Ability / Aptitude Tests


Personality Tests

Personality questionnaires are concerned with your preferred style of behaviour and how you like to do things and the way you interact with others. There is no right or wrong answer with this type of questionnaire and they are broadly approached in two different styles:

  • Forced Choice: most like or least like (which of the options you have an affinity with)
  • Rated: from very strongly agree through to very strongly disagree


There are many different types of personality questionnaires and the number of questions range from 20 to 300 looking at different dimensions and elements of preferred styles of behaviour in the work place. Typically they will look at motivations, controlling, outspoken, conscientious, optimistic, and competitiveness. These tools typically have a shelf life of 18 to 24 months and contra to popular belief your style and behaviours change over time.


Ability Tests: Verbal, Numerical, Abstract Reasoning, Spatial Ability, Data Entry

There are literally thousands of ability tests on the market, they tend to be online, timed and multiple choice. The tests are designed to measure your abilities in relation to the role, they may be concerned with measuring your speed and accuracy in the processing of verbal, numerical or logical information. Unlike the personality tests there is usually a pass or fail element. Preparing for ability tests is essential and there are a number of free online tools you can use, for example:

Ensure you know exactly what type of test you are going to be sitting, look at the number of questions versus the amount of time you have been assigned and then work quickly and accurately through them, some multiple choice answers may be easily eliminated. Don’t waste precious time if you come across a difficult question move on and if time allows at the end come back to it. 

The key to all of the above is to be prepared. Do your research and ensure you know what is expected of you and practice, practice, practice!

Now that you're ready for your psychometric test, make sure you prepare yourself for competency based interviewing.


Michelle Lownie
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