Whilst job interviews can be anxiety-inducing at the best of times, psychometric testing kicks things up a notch. Why should you care about psychometric tests? 75% of The Times' "best companies to work for" and 80% of Fortune 500 companies use these tests in their recruitment processes. They're a popular and important tool in many HR departments' arsenals and, with anything while job hunting, forewarned is forearmed. It's likely to be something most people will face at some point in their career, so we've highlighted a few things you should know before you tackle these fiendish foes.
For many people, sitting a test will take them back to their school days and exam preparation which, understandably, isn't always a welcome regression. It may also have been quite some time since they've studied for a test, so the brain needs "warming up" to get into the right frame of mind again. Like most things, the reality is far less terrifying than nightmares you concoct in advance. A little homework and preparation 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; and
- Feedback on your results.
Psychometric tests fall into two main types: personality tests and ability / aptitude tests.
Personality questionnaires are designed to detemine your preferred style of behaviour and how you like to do things, including the way you interact with others. There is no right or wrong answers in this type of questionnaire and they are usuall approached in one of two 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, all of which probe different dimensions and elements of your preferred styles of behaviour in the work place. Typically, they will look at motivations, methods of control, outspokenness, conscientiousness, optimistism, and competitiveness. These tools typically have a shelf life of 18 to 24 months and, contrary 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 the speed and accuracy in your 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:
- Assembly Day Numerical Practice Questions
- Practice Aptitude Tests Verbal Reasoning Tests
- SHL Practice Questions
- Psychometric Success Practice Questions
- Practice Reasoning Test
Make sure you know exactly what type of test you are going to be sitting and do as many practice tests as you can. When you start, look at the number of questions versus the amount of time you have been assigned and then work quickly and accurately through them. You might be able to complete some multiple choice questions quickly and easily to get you into the rhythm of the test. Don’t waste precious time pondering for too long over difficult questions; move on and, if time allows at the end, come back to them.
The key to any kind of testing is to be prepared. Do your research and ensure you know what is expected of you. Practice, practice, practice!
Most organisations won't use psychometric testing in isolation - make sure you prepare yourself for competency based interviewing as well.