Psychometric Testing & 7 tips for success

If you’ve been through an interview process in the last 5 years then you’ll perhaps have noticed how much more common place Psychometric Testing is as part of an organisations recruitment process. Like the vast majority of the population, the thought of being tested/ analysed in areas like Numerical & Verbal competence, Situational Judgement, Personality Profiling can be a frightening thing. However, below is some useful information that will help you understand what they are all about – and hopefully even help you to become better at them!

So what are Psychometric tests?

Psychometric tests are an objective way for Employers/ Recruiters to measure the potential of candidates to perform well in a job role. The power of psychometric testing is that there is a strong correlation between test scores and job performance, i.e. if you score highly in a psychometric test, the chances are that you are going to perform well in the job. As an employer, their predictive qualities make psychometric tests very attractive. Add the fact that they can be administered quickly and efficiently on a large scale and you can see why psychometric tests have become the norm.

7 Tips for success

Tip 1: Practice, Practice, Practice

Often you’ll be allowed to practice a series of example questions to give you an idea of what the test questions will be like. Take these example questions seriously; they are your best chance of familiarising yourself with the particular type of psychometric test you are taking. Of course, the questions on the real test will be different, however by practicing you’re familiarising yourself with what’s to come and you’ll reduce your anxiety.

Tip 2: Who’s behind the Psychometric Tests

Most organisations/ recruiters will outsource to a specialist test publisher e.g. SHL, Saville Consulting, TalentQ, Thomas International etc. As soon as you find out which company has designed the psychometric test you can go directly to their website and find out even more information about that specific test, such as the time limit, whether negative marking is being used, and whether they have example test questions.

Tip 3: Plan your online test session

If your psychometric test is online you will be able to choose where and when you take it. So think about when you work best: is it in the morning or later in the day? Also, choose a quiet time when you are least likely to be disturbed. Turn off your phone and any other distractions before you start the test. Use a computer you like to work on and make sure you have everything you need before you start your test: a calculator, pens, paper, Carol Vorderman if she’s available etc. Oh and make sure you’ve been to the loo before your psychometric test starts as some psychometric tests can take up to an hour!

Tip 4: Understand the question

Understanding the question is different from reading it. Perhaps read the question, think about your answer and then re-read the question to check you are about to attempt what is intended. During your psychometric test it is very easy under the pressure of time to dive head-first into answering a question only to find half-way through that you’ve misunderstood the question.

Tip 5: You probably don’t have time to double-check answers

During exams you may be used to double-checking your answers. Whilst this is admirable in some test scenarios, in a psychometric test the time limits are so tight that the time you spend checking an answer is probably better spent answering another question. Most people don’t get to the end of their psychometric test within the time limit. There is obviously a balance to be struck with checking answers during your test. Rushing through your test to the end is too fast, and double-checking every question is too slow. A good balance might be to pause at the end of each question and look back at the question; does it look right?

Tip 6: The speed vs. accuracy

Your psychometric test score is not always about how many questions you get right. The results of your aptitude test will include accuracy and speed ratings showing how many of the attempted questions you got right and how quickly you answered those questions. If you rush through your test you might score highly for speed but low on accuracy. Different companies place different weighting on the importance of speed and accuracy, so have a think about the type of company you are applying to and what sort of person they are looking for. In most tests the company will be looking for both speed and accuracy.

Tip 7: Ask for feedback

If the company is following industry-standard best practises, they will provide all candidates with feedback after their test, even to candidate who is unsuccessful. These best practises are guided by the British Psychological Society and all psychometric test administrators should adhere to them (although they are not legally bound to). Feedback is useful for finding out how to improve your test performance next time.

In summary, Psychometric testing is common place across most industry sectors and at all levels. Therefore, if you enjoy doing them then great. However, if the thought of them keep you awake at night with worry then learn to love them. Get good at them and embrace them. It could be the difference in securing that all important dream job!

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