What is a psychometric test?
As organisations place more emphasis on cultural fit, psychometric assessments are becoming more common during the selection process.
Psychometric tests examine an individual’s capabilities and preferences, to provide data that can help assess a candidate’s “fit” for a role and organisation.
At Hudson, we emphasise the importance of having data-driven insights, because a person’s resume cannot tell the whole story about who they are and whether they may be right for a role. Along with other information such as your cover letter, resume, interviews and references, psychometric assessments help employers get the full picture of the candidate’s personality and abilities for a role.
Psychometric tests might sound intimidating, but they are simply a standardised way of gathering information about you, the job applicant. The applicant’s responses are assessed by someone who’s trained in psychometric assessments, so that the employer can understand and contextualise your test results and compare it to others’ results.
There are two main types of psychometric tests:
Examine how you are likely to behave in the workplace, for example your interpersonal style, task management preferences and how you like to structure your time. There are no right or wrong answers here.
Look at different abilities like your numeracy skills, your ability to understand written information and your ability to tackle abstract concepts and general problem-solving skills. These tests do have right and wrong answers and a time limit for answering the questions.
Depending on the organisation, you might be doing a psychometric test at the very start of the application process, in conjunction with an interview, or perhaps between your first and second interviews.
Common misconceptions about psychometric testing
Since many are unfamiliar with psychometric testing, there are certain myths and assumptions that need to be debunked:
Myth: There is one perfect personality
Different roles and organisations call for different personalities. Not every employer is looking for an extrovert who wants to lead the business.
For example, an analyst role may require someone who is less vocal and more analytical, while a role that focuses on stakeholder management will need someone with exceptional communication skills.
The “right personality” will be the personality type that is right for the role. Thus, it’s important to be yourself and answer honestly so that the potential employer can get an accurate gauge of who you are in the workplace. It's also better for you to answer honestly, as if you are a natural fit for the role you are more likely to enjoy it.
Myth: It’s psychoanalysis
Despite its name, psychometric tests aren’t about revealing personal or private information that can be used against you.
The test won’t dig deep into your psyche and childhood, but is simply about gauging your workplace preferences.
For example, do you prefer to work collaboratively or alone? If successful in your application, your results might also feed into how you are managed within that role.
Before the psychometric test: setting yourself up for success
There are plenty of things you can do to optimise your experience of taking psychometric tests. Whether you’ve taken a test before or not, you can set yourself up for success by doing the following:
- Optimise your environment
The environment is a key consideration when taking a psychometric test. Bearing in mind that ability tests are timed, you need to make sure you won’t be interrupted or distracted.
Make sure your computer has the right browsers and that you are somewhere it’s unlikely that the internet will drop out.
- Practise, practise, practise
Practising will allow you to get a handle on the format and style of questions you’ll be asked, and how you might respond to them. This is especially important for ability assessments (where there are right or wrong answers and a time limit).
When you sit the real test, you will have an opportunity to take a few practice questions, but it’s highly recommended that you take a full practice test in timed conditions and look up examples, too.
Practising puts you in the best position to feel relaxed and comfortable and reduce nerves (which are very normal in this situation). This in turn allows you to give your best performance when you take the real test. You can be the best version of yourself if you’re feeling relaxed and prepared.
- Allow plenty of time
Ability tests are timed, check how long the ones you have been asked to do will take. Personality tests usually take about half an hour.
When you’re calculating how long you’ll need, add in time for reading instructions and doing the practice questions too.
- Study your resume
While we can be scrutinising with other people’s resumes, we often don’t pay enough attention to our own. As you prepare for your test, take another look at your resume and think of the experiences accumulated as well as the insights you’ve uncovered about yourself from each role.
You might see a pattern that you gravitate towards certain kinds of roles or organisations, for example an informal or agile environment where you get a lot more autonomy, or a structured organisation with established processes. This will be helpful as you look to answering questions about yourself.
After the psychometric test
If you have completed psychometric tests, you are entitled (and highly encouraged) to receive verbal feedback from a trained assessor. Treat it as a development opportunity and a chance to gain some insight into yourself and your work style, whether or not you are offered the role.
If you feel like you could have done better, don’t panic: it won’t necessarily exclude you from consideration for the role.
While you can’t re-sit a psychometric test, it’s just one piece of information that will be assessed, alongside your track record, experience, qualifications, CV and interview.
For more job application tips, download our eBook: 35 Ways to Master the Art of the Interview.