Career Basics Lesson #4 - Psychometric Testing
The very term psychometric testing has an intimidating ring to it. No-one enjoys tests and when your future career might depend on them for some people they can be an intimidating prospect. What people tend to worry about most is simply not knowing what to expect. In a nutshell these tests are simply about establishing your suitability for a role based upon a set of established competencies. They help an employer build a profile of your characteristics and personality; how you react in given situations and whether you have the necessary tools to excel.
1. It's all relevant
Psychometric tests are designed to be appropriate to the position for which the employer is recruiting. Someone going for a managerial role is unlikely to face the sort of mathematical rigours put before a merchandiser. It is extremely unlikely that you will find yourself facing psychometric assessments that put you way out of your depth.
2. Not the be-all and end-all
You are unlikely to be rejected solely on the basis of a test score - they form part of your application profile. There are exceptions to this rule of course: if you utterly bomb a test questions may be asked - especially if your failure occurs in an area of particular significance to the role. A merchandising candidate crashing and burning on a mathematical reasoning test should not expect to be taken on.
3. The tests - personality
Personality tests are really the ones about which you need worry least, as they require only that you are honest in your responses. The employer will be looking for key success indicators in factors such as your motivation, interpersonal skills and work style. Honesty really is the best policy with personality tests. If you did somehow successfully second-guess your would-be employers with your answers, you would be cheating yourself as much as them - ending up in a job that calls for skills and attitudes that you don't possess.
4. The tests - ability
Ability tests are used in order to measure your verbal, abstract, spatial and numerical skills. Verbal reasoning tests assess your ability to understand and interpret written information and test your critical reasoning skills. Numerical tests are the ones many people worry about, largely because most folk haven't sat a maths test since they were back in school and feel rather rusty.
The complexity level will be appropriate to the job for which you are applying. Spatial and abstract reasoning tests measure your ability to reason logically and find patterns. You are likely to be shown a series of diagrams and asked to identify the next logical image in the series.
Aptitude or competency tests may include much the same sort of test material as ability tests or they may cite less abstract and more vocational questions and situations.
5. Prepare and practice
The first step in your preparation for a psychometric test is to ascertain precisely what sorts of tests you are likely to be facing. Ask the person who invited you to interview, be that a retailer or a consultancy, what tests they plan to set and see if they hold any practice sheets they can send you. Even if they don't, getting an idea of what is coming arms you with some useful information on what to practice. The internet is filled with information on psychometric testing, including practice tests of all varieties.
6. On the day
Usual story, turn up on time, appropriately attired, having had a decent night's sleep. Listen carefully at the beginning of the test as you're talked through the format. You will usually be allowed time to do some practice questions before the test begins and if you are not 100% certain about how to proceed make sure you ask. On the test paper itself read the instructions slowly and carefully and take note of any time allocation.
As with pretty much every aspect of the selection procedure, if feedback on your test performance is available you should pursue it. Whether or not you landed the job, getting an idea of how you did and where you scored less well on the psychometric tests will enable you to work on those areas for the next time.