These tests are used to measure individuals' mental capabilities and behavioural style – aspects often difficult to extract from resumes or one-on-one interviews. Psychometric tests are designed to measure candidates' suitability for a role against a set of predefined personality characteristics and aptitude. They usually seek to identify the extent to which candidates' personality and cognitive abilities match those required to perform the role and fall into two main categories:
Aptitude Tests: These tests identify mental reasoning ability, numerical, verbal, comprehension, and abstract or spatial reasoning skills. These tests are usually timed so the pressure can be intense. There might be 50 questions to answer in 30 minutes. Work quickly but accurately, and don’t be surprised if you can’t answer all questions.
Personality Profiling: This searches for candidates’ key interests and motivations. There are no right or wrong responses, just individual answers which psychologists use to develop a profile to then compare to that of an employer’s ideal candidate.
When and how are graduate and internship applicants given psychometric tests?
You will often encounter a basic form of psychometric testing early in the application process - perhaps as a second stage after you submit your online application. This is usually a simplified version and is used as part of an initial screening.
Later in the process, you may have to complete considerably more in-depth tests. These may be online, at an assessment centre or at the second or third round of the interview stage.
What form do the tests take?
The tests will probably be computer-based: online or sometimes at the interviewing location (particularly if they are part of an assessment centre).
The tests are usually of the multiple choice type, with a set of possible responses to choose from. For personality-style tests, there are no right or wrong answers, but your responses will be evaluated against the employer’s preferred profile.
Is it possible to fake personality tests?
These tests really can’t be practised or faked. The tests often contain a ‘faking scale’ to identify inconsistencies as participants strive to give the ‘right’ answer. Those applicants who are perceived to be ‘faking’ are usually rejected, so you are advised to answer honestly.
How to prepare for psychometric tests
There is nothing you can do to change your personality or shape your answers to what you think will be needed. However, you can prepare to give the best answers that you are capable of giving by doing the following:
- Research the company and job that you are sitting the psychometric tests for.
- Know the culture and values of the employer and the requirements of the job.
- Find out what sort of tests will be used
- Practice sample psychometric tests on specialist online sites or at your university careers centre.
- Be sure that you are rested and fresh before you take the test.