At some stage of your job search it’s likely you’ll be asked to undertake a psychometric test. It can seem daunting but by understanding the pros and cons of psychometric testing you’ll have a better idea of what’s involved and how to prepare.
Psychometric testing can be unsettling, especially if you’ve never experienced these tests. But it’s just another tool in the armoury that hiring managers use to narrow down the ideal candidate, and knowing the pros and cons of psychometric testing can help to settle exam day nerves.
While some psychometric tests highlight a candidate’s innate strengths such as literacy or numeracy, they can also assess your personality, helping a hiring manager determine whether you will be a good fit for a particular team.
A study by the London School of Economics found as many as 70 per cent of companies use psychometric tests, so chances are you will encounter them at some stage of your career. But psychometric tests come with factors that every candidates need to be aware of.
Psychometric testing takes away human bias
Psychometric tests are designed to assess the abilities and natural talents of a candidate, giving a more reasonable and accurate insight into how well-suited a person is for a particular role. In this way, they help to eliminate human bias, which can otherwise play a role in the selection of a successful candidate.
By way of example, a bright and bubbly candidate applying for a senior accountant role, may have all the right background details on paper and present well at an interview. However, a psychometric test may reveal the candidate has relatively low mathematical ability, and could prove disappointing in the role despite ticking all the boxes in terms of personal appeal, academic record and career history.
If you’re the sort of person who don’t always perform well at interview it’s good to know that well-validated tests generally return reliable results, and can demonstrate that you have what it takes to be successful in a position even if you don’t necessarily shine in the interview stage.
You can prepare for the test
The idea of sitting a test can be a source of anxiety. But don’t let nerves get the better of you. This could lead to a false negative result whereby the test doesn’t reflect your true ability and talent.
One of the pluses of psychometric testing is that you have the opportunity to study some standard tests to get a feel for what to expect. In fact, a wide range of psychometric tests are freely available online to practice on. If you opt for practice tests, be sure you are studying the appropriate test for the type of role and level of seniority you are applying for.
Psychometric tests are developed and validated using sample populations that have no reason to be dishonest. Job applicants, on the other hand, are motivated to tell hiring managers what they want to hear, not what the candidate really thinks or believes.
It can be tempting to second-guess the ‘correct’ answer but experts recommend being honest in a psychometric test. Sure, it can help to speak to the recruiter ahead of the test, or carefully review the job advertisement to get a better idea of the personal attributes the company is looking for. Ultimately though, avoid overthinking each response, answer truthfully and let your personality and talents shine to achieve consistent results.
Fatigue can impact results
All tests demand that you at your best to achieve good results, and psychometric testing is no different. Fatigue can damage your scores in the Intelligence or Aptitude tests, so make sure you are well rested the night before a test.
The potential for cultural bias
As psychometric tests can be difficult to standardise across languages, they can contain cultural bias. This may put people from different cultural backgrounds at a disadvantage. If that sounds like you, it pays to read widely to expand your vocabulary. Newspapers can be especially useful to develop a grasp of local language nuances.
Some preparation for your psychometric test won’t go astray but it also helps to bear in mind that a skilled hiring manager won’t put too much weight on a single test result. Psychometric testing works best when it is combined with interviews, role-playing exercises and reference checks. Aiming to perform well in all three is more likely to land you the job than focusing on just one aspect of the hiring process.
Take a look at our job interview page for more interview tips and advice.