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Psychometric testing

Alejandra's article about a new aspect of the employment and application process.

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Psychometric tests are commonly used by employers to cut down the number of suitable candidates in the selection process. In this article, Hotcourses’ student editor, Alejandra Diaz Camacho tells you what these tests are about and how you can prepare yourself to get closer to the job you want.

One of the hidden aspects of the job application process is what it is known as psychometric tests. This term is generally applied for both aptitude/ability tests and personality tests. Many employers use them as assessment devices with a pass or fail threshold which are commonly used at an early stage to whittle down the number of appropriate applicants for a role.

 The ability tests are usually verbal and/or numeric (sometimes enlarged by diagrammatic or logical reasoning) and can be taken on line or in paper in a class room setting. These are designed to test whether or not a candidate is able to reason analytically and logically in a particular situation.

On the other hand, personality tests include informait6on about your character and decision-making abilities. These questions are designed to evaluate whether or not the candidate fits into their working atmosphere and whether they have the basic attributes needed for success.

The first type is the aptitude/ability test. These are formal tests of multiple choice questions, which could be taken either online or by filling in a printed answer sheet. The tests most commonly used in graduate recruitment are:

  • verbal tests - such as verbal reasoning, analysis and word sort;
  • numerical tests - such as reasoning, analysis and sequential tests;
  • diagrammatic and spatial reasoning - testing your sense of logic and ability to deal with shapes;
  • Specific tests - for example syntax for computer programming, data checking or mechanics.

When taking the exam, you will be given full instructions before you start the test and there will be some example questions to try, with no time limit. It is advisable that you pay attention to the instructions carefully and ask for clarification if you are unclear about the questions or the procedure.

In addition to this, if you have any type of disability (e.g. dyslexia) it is important you make the company or the evaluator aware of it so they may be able to make allowances. There is nothing wrong with recognising any type of disability in the job application process. Instead, you should make sure you have a different type of assessment according to your needs, so you can guarantee that you are not facing a disadvantage from the start.

Nowadays, you can find many online preparation tests that you can try before taking the exam. For more detailed information and some free tests please follow the links:

Aptitute tests

Assessment Day

Shl direct - one of the UK's largest test publishers.

A second type of evaluation is the personality test and contains questions regarding behavioural response and personal choices. Even though this mode of testing is considered as inaccurate and highly controversial by some, many experts support the use of these methods as a useful tool to find out the likely behaviour and situational response of candidates when placed in particular situations in the workplace.

As several psychological experiments have shown, human beings are product of their environment and have an innate ability to adjust their behaviour according to circumstances and experience. Employers, with the help of innovative computer programmes, are aware of the multiple situations that a future employee may be placed into and evaluate the possible reactions based on the answers supply in these tests.

Unlike the ability tests, marked with a fail or pass based on the average response of a number of individuals put in the same exam situation, personality tests do not have ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer. However, many employers based their criteria on a particular type of individual that they want to recruit as part of the office culture and expectations they have develop over the years.

Some websites where you can find more information are:

Jobsearch

Psychometric success

The high competition for jobs and the increasing number of suitable graduates that annually join the workforce of their countries have made psychometric tests more common in candidates’ selection process. However, do not be daunted by these tests. These are usually only part of the overall assessment procedure. Employers will use them alongside interviews, application forms, references, academic results and other selection methods, so test results will not usually be the only information looked at. When you are told you are to be assessed, do try to establish which tests or questionnaires are going to be used. The best way to overcome your fears is by practicing.

In this sense, a piece of advice is offered: always try to be yourself during the whole job application process but also do a bit of practice along with a bit of research about the company ethos beforehand, so you can identify the type of candidate that each employer is looking for. Remember that job-hunting is a double-sided process: employers are looking for suitable candidates but you also want to fulfil your job expectations. Good luck with your applications!

 

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Aspiring journalist and Cambridge University graduate, Londoner 'by adoption'. Tweeting for @hotcourses_Abrd

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