Preparing for a Psychometric Test
Mike Bryon, expert in psychometrics and training solutions, outlines how to give yourself the best chance of success as soon as you find out you are taking a psychometric test.
If you face a psychometric test as part of a recruitment process for a job or course of study, then it is reasonable to assume that lots of people have applied and there are fewer vacancies or places than applicants. Some organizations attract as many as 40 applications for every vacancy. The employer or college relies on the test to identify the more suitable candidates in as fair and objective a way as is economically possible. Every applicant will be invited to take the test and the results will be compared to decide who should be invited to the next stage of the recruitment process.
Psychometric tests may be taken online, with paper and pen or when performing a task in a workplace. Whatever the task, it will be designed so that a score can be awarded, usually decided by how many questions were completed correctly.
The test will allow the test administrator to draw comparisons between candidates, and the whole point, when used for recruitment, is that it will allow the administrator that candidate A got a better score than candidate B and that candidates F, G, H, I, J and K failed!
There are many types of test in use. Some are specific to a particular role or profession, others are general. They may involve a questionnaire completed online or a series of sub-tests taken one after the other over a number of hours at a test centre with only a short pause between the papers. They may be designed to test your stamina and endurance as well as your interests, personality and abilities. Examples include:
- Verbal reasoning;
- Numerical analysis;
- Mechanical and technical reasoning;
- Diagrammatic and abstract analysis;
- Work sample tests;
- In-tray exercises;
- Trainability tests;
- Personality questionnaires;
- Situational awareness questionnaires;
- Interest and motivational inventories;
- Fault diagnosis;
- Data interpretation
These are very broad headings and each would include many different styles and types of question. A questionnaire will not normally have a time limit, while a test will be strictly timed.
As soon as you realize that you need to pass a test or complete a questionnaire, go about finding out as much as you can about it. The internet is a great source of this kind of information but the organization that has invited you should provide you with, or direct you to, a description of the test and some sample questions. You will not be able to get hold of past papers or real copies of the test.
After the test, the organization should be willing to provide information on your performance, although you may have to ask for this. It should indicate the areas in which you performed strongly and areas in which you might work to improve. Most organizations will be willing to discuss your score with you over the telephone and this is often the way to get the most valuable feedback.