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The use of Psychometric Testing for Candidates


Psychometric Testing

Oh No; I hear you cry help! Well you shouldn’t. Psychometric testing is becoming more and more popular now to vet potential candidates and you can use these in your favour. If you’ve never taken one before it can be a little bit worrying. It’s a bit like going back to school and sitting an exam doing those multiple choice questions with puzzles. These needn’t be a worry and they are not, once you understand what they’re for, how they work and what they are set out to achieve. In my experience it is really no surprise why companies have taken to using these tests to gauge applicants. Nowadays there are some very well qualified applicants for each job. If you were to interview them all you would be there until doomsday. These tests are a good way to assess which candidates are most likely to be the best for the job. If you are the right person for the position then it will just give reassurance to the interviewer and you will be in a good position. On the basis that you have never sat a psychometric test, or heard of one for that matter, I will give you some brief information about them.

A psychometric test isn’t really a test. This is because you cannot really fail one. It is called a test because, well in all honesty, how else can you categorise something where you are asked to carry out a task which you will then be assessed on. What these do is ascertain how you think and whether you think in the same format as the company you are applying to. These tests don’t tend to be used on their own in the interview and selection process. Basically psychometric tests are split into four areas and can include one or all of the following; An Ability Test, A Personality Test, An Aptitude Test and Motivational Test. Each test speaks for itself really. The ability test is looking to assess your overall general ability, the personality test is assessing what type of personality you have, the aptitude test is carried out to test the skills you have that are specific to areas of the job that you are applying for and the motivational test is set to find out what motivates you. If you are on your way to an interview and you suddenly get a thought go through your head like “oh no I wonder if I will be asked to sit a psychometric test at this interview” don’t panic. It is very unlikely, if you haven’t been informed this test will form part of the interview, it will be sprung on you. After all, that would be a bit of a dirty trick to play on an unsuspecting candidate. These tests are often carried out on the same day as the interview but generally speaking you will be given advance warning if this is going to form part of the day.

Should you be asked to sit a test as part of the interview then the chances are your interviewer or the HR manager will brief you beforehand as to what the test is about, what you need to do to complete the test and which type of test you will be asked to complete. If they do not brief you, which is fairly unlikely, then you might want to ask them a few questions about the test. Things like; how will the test be taken? What type of test will it be and what will the information be used for? There is plenty of information readily available about psychometric tests on the internet, so if you want examples or more information on this subject just go to Google and search for “psychometric tests”. If you know you are going to be taking a test then make sure you have everything you need before attending otherwise it will be just like going into an exam without a pen or your glasses. Make sure you are prepared. You don’t want to add to your worries by leaving something important at home that’s going to hinder you. You should use the same type of formula when taking the test as you would if you were taking an exam. For those of you have been left school or University for a while and forgotten then here are a couple of pointers:

1. Sit down, keep your cool and follow all of the instructions given on the paper. Read them thoroughly and take them in. If you rush you may misunderstand the way in which the test is being set and end up answering questions incorrectly.

2. If at the start of the test there is an area that you are unsure of or do not fully comprehend then ask the assessor for help.

3. As with any exam you need to answer as many questions as possible correctly so be careful of the time spent on each question. If you are not sure of the answer or don’t understand the question, don’t get flustered, leave it and move on.

4. Finally, when you have reached the end of the questions and there remain some unanswered ones go back and have another go. If you still don’t know the answer just guess, you might come out lucky!

I will now try and give you some insight into what you can expect from the different types of tests and how to answer them. I am no expert at the end of the day so I can only go off past experience and information I have read up on the subject.

Ability/Aptitude Tests:

Ability and aptitude tests are set to assess your specific skills. You will sit the test and the result you get will indicate to your future employer your overall level of ability. The content of the test may be general questions set to see how you think, how you deal with specific circumstances and what type of logic you are using to come up with your answer. These tests are frequently designed using multiple choice questions, or what we called multiple guess questions in my day at school! Sometimes these tests will be set using far more questions than can possibly be answered in the allotted time but it is quality not quantity the examiner will be looking for as your overall score will be a percentage of the right questions answered, not how many questions have been answered. It is fairly easy to do some preparation for aptitude tests. Most of these tests are based around logical thinking. This is something we all do in everyday life. If you really want to try and increase your logical thinking you could try the doing the daily crossword in your newspaper, Sudoku which you can get from most local shops, or even play it on the internet for free. You could try buying one of those puzzle magazines from the newsagents. What I am getting at here is that you need to get your mind working in a logical thinking way. By carrying out exercises that involve mathematical puzzles and problem solving you will give yourself a good start. Remember the more practice you get the better you will become at doing these tests.

Motivation Tests/Personality Tests:

Motivation questionnaires are set to specifically analyse what “motivates” or “drives” you as a person and how you are likely to integrate that into your work. Also how much stamina you have or how much enthusiasm you dedicate to a project. These tests are set using a question, followed by several possible answers. Personality tests are very similar to Motivation Tests and are designed to assess what type of person you are, unlike Aptitude tests which are created to analyse what type of logic you use to address problem solving. There is no right or wrong answer for Personality tests because everybody thinks differently. These tests are designed to see if you will fit in with the company’s way of thinking or into the type of job you will be doing. Generally speaking there will be no time limit set at a personality test so they are not as pressurised as aptitude tests. It is not possible to analyse what sort of information the employer is looking for when you take a personality test as different employers will be looking for different qualities and they may be aimed at how well you are going to fit in with their team and company. However, the general type of areas your employer may be looking to quantify are what your attitude is to your work life and personal life, how well you communicate with others, what drives you and how you deal with sorting out and solving problems.

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