When a company wants to learn more about its people, or potential new recruits, it will often turn to psychometric testing. As these tests allow employers to look at the employees and applicants on an objective level that is otherwise inaccessible, they are now regularly being used in the recruitment process. For jobseekers, this can feel like another hurdle to get over, but this feeling is usually based on normal anxiety or misunderstanding the purpose of the tests.
Patrick Bell, Managing Director of Genesis Associates tells us how to prepare for a psychometric test:
As Managing Director of a specialist recruitment consultancy, I’ve conducted and received reports on a wide range of tests for an even wider range of roles. We recommend these tests to our clients and recently published Psychometric Testing Explained, a detailed resource aimed at teaching jobseekers and hiring companies about the varieties, advantages and misconceptions of these tests. One thing it didn’t cover, however, was test preparation.
While there is no method to guaranteeing you pass these tests, if there’s even a pass boundary to aim for, there’s plenty to do in terms of preparation. Knowing the expectations and requirements is one thing, but being prepared can be the difference between a stressful or a stress-free experience.
Before even considering the content of the questions, it’s important to adopt the right mentality. First off, there is no reason to be intimidated or anxious about taking a psychometric test. It’s a simple task that is quick and easy when compared to the academic examinations you’ll have already done. The questions and multiple choice format don’t require in-depth revision or detailed answers and the outcome won’t stay with you for life.
Start your preparation by understanding their purpose and approaching them correctly rather than seeing them as a must-pass. Scoring well on a psychometric test won’t guarantee you a position, it is a contributing factor alongside your CV and interview. Even if you shape your answers to what you think the test wants and pass, all you’d achieve is being considered for a role that you are possibly not suited to. You shouldn’t hide or change who you are for a test.
The first tests given to applicants will typically be personality or aptitude focused. Knowing the type of test you face is also important and can help to settle any nerves. Personality tests are often not timed and have no ‘correct’ answers, but aptitude tests check logical, verbal and numerical reasoning in a timed scenario. They are used to identify culture suitability and potential job performance respectively.
Regardless of a specific test’s purpose, they tend to focus on right answers rather than penalising incorrect or unsuitable ones. This is particularly true of personality tests where there are no strictly right or wrong answers – only better matched ones. Rather than looking to impress by rushing or giving answers you think they want to hear, take your time and put your emphasis on giving right answers over fast or calculated ones.
Know the Format and Details
When taken in person, the tests are commonly completed on a computer or simple booklet. In traditional pen and paper form, the test often comes with a question booklet and a separate answer sheet that contains boxes to be marked for each possible answer. They work similarly when done on a computer, but the questions and answers often sit on one webpage. Clear instructions should always be provided by the company responsible for the test, so don’t worry too much about the layout or procedure.
Psychometric tests can also be given as online assessments. While this is common sense, any online test should be done to fit around your preferred schedule in a location where you’re comfortable working. It is common for applicants to feel under prepared at this point, but all you need to really know is the same as you would for an interview. You will be given notice and a deadline for online assessments, just know how long a test is likely to take before starting it.
While revision is unsuitable, you can practice and develop your test taking. Practice tests are available online, but the company holding the psychometric tests will often have practice materials for you to complete before the day itself. Whether you are supplied with them or find them yourself, use these questions to become familiar with the style of the test. This will be particularly vital to timed aptitude tests.
What a test looks for and examines ultimately depends on how the company is using them, so preparation is not a tick box process of revision or knowing what marks to hit. Revisiting the job description and company about us page before taking a test is a good idea, as both can hold clues about desired skills and traits, but just be yourself.
It’s better to see these tests as learning exercises rather than a decisive moment. Your personality and skillset may be just what a company are looking for, but if not the role probably isn’t the best for you anyway. If you have the talent and put some time into preparation, psychometric tests are nothing for you to worry about.