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Career Advice

How to Handle a Psychometric Test

testingSome of you may be scratching your heads and wondering to yourselves “what on earth is a psychometric test?”- this makes you one of the lucky ones since you have obviously never had to take one.

The less fortunate amongst you will already know that a psychometric test is an objective way for recruiters to measure your potential to perform well within a particular role. They do this by giving the employer a generalised view of your key attributes such as intelligence, aptitude and personality which can serve as an indicator of how well you will handle some of the demands of the job.

Psychometric tests will normally take place towards the beginning of a candidate selection process. They are most often used by large employers looking to speed up the process owing to the fact that since they can provide bulk passes and fails.

Generally speaking, psychometric tests can be divided into two distinct categories ‘ Interests & Personality’ and ‘Aptitude and Ability’ which may contain several subcategories including ‘verbal reasoning’, ‘non-verbal reasoning’ and ‘numerical reasoning’.

The tests are completed either with a pencil and paper or on a computer and will consist of a number of sections with multiple choice questions.  There will also be a very strict time-frame in which the test must be completed.

Sounds truly awful doesn’t it?  You might think that there is no earthly way that you could prepare for such an examination, thankfully here at TheEmployable we prescribe to a much more positive mantra!  So here’s a few tips on how to handle psychometric tests.

How to prepare for a psychometric test

  • Revisit some of your basic maths skills – the numerical reasoning section of the test is often the part which people fall down on, not necessarily because they lack the knowledge but because their speed at applying it has reduced from lack of use. As a result, this can put extra strain on their time and cause them to panic and make simple mistakes.

Some of the things which most commonly arise within numerical reasoning include basic arithmetic, number sequences,charts, graphs and data conversions. When revising these mathematical skills it can be a good idea to do some ‘practice exams’ which will get you back into the swing of complete calculations whilst up against the clock.

  • Do practice tests. This is probably the best way that you can prepare yourself for the challenge of psychometric testing. This can be especially useful if you are someone who has been out of education for a while and is no longer accustomed to sitting examinations within strict time constraints.  You needn’t restrict yourself to psychometric testing though, since the style and format of many other examinations such as IQ tests follow a similar pattern to them.
  • Develop a clear understanding of psychometric testing – they say that the best way to win a battle is to know your enemy and same thing goes for psychometric testing.  People tend to have an unnecessary fear of them because they don’t understand how they work or how they are employed.

You should make it your mission to become an ‘expert’ on them, seeking to answer questions like “How are they marked?”, “Who creates them?”, “What is the average pass / fail ratio?” “What are they trying to find out?” “Where do they normally take place” etc. By knowing what to expect you will be better prepared to enter the high pressure situation of the test room.

  • Make sure that you get a good night’s sleep – Psychometric tests require a very high level of mental agility, something which becomes harder and harder to come by if you haven’t had a restful night’s sleep.

Without good rest your mind can become foggy and easily confused which makes for a disastrous combination within a high pressure battle against the clock like psychometric testing.

  • Do not let your attitude towards psychometric testing negatively impact your opinion of the role / the company. There are certain camps which would brand psychometric testing as a dehumanising, psychological corporate tool and whilst it can feel this way it is important to remember that the company doesn’t necessarily hold a corresponding ethos.

By approaching a psychometric test as if it were an ‘affront to your humanity’ you risk allowing your disaffection to spill over and negatively affect your results. You should try to view the test as a challenge which is to be overcome – after which you can show the employer what a brilliant, amazing and multi-talented person you are.

aptitude testSome tips for during the test

  • Listen very carefully to the instructions which are given to you – Yes, we know this is a very simple point, but from experience we also know that it’s easy to be swept away in the adrenaline rush which occurs before the test and end up missing some very valuable pieces of information.
  • Don’t take your time getting started – the temptation can be to ease yourself into the test but remember that every second you spend preparing to begin is one less second that you have to answer the first question. You must maintain a sense of controlled urgency throughout the test, keeping a regular eye on how much time remains.
  • Keep your eyes down – Not that we are suggesting you would attempt to cheat, but rather we find that in such situations it can be a good idea not to pay much attention to those around you. You might notice, for example, that the person sitting next to you is several questions ahead – which can make you feel as if you are working too slow and need to catch up. In a situation like this it is best to totally ignore the progress of those around you, but if you do happen to notice them, pacify yourself with the thought “They are probably just guessing”.
  • Set yourself some chronological targets and stick to them. It will be easy to work out how much time you should be spending on each question and you will often find that test makers have allocated an average of one minute per question. You too should give yourself a timescale for each question and, if when the time is up, you are not close to reaching an answer, guess it and move on. There’s no point in allowing a failure on one question to bring down the rest of your test with it.
  • Move on quickly – Once you have answered a question, move on to the next one, even if the time you allotted yourself hasn’t run out yet. Checking your work at this stage is a waste of precious time which could be better spent ensuring that you get the opportunity to answer every question.
  • Don’t let yourself get bogged down by the details provided – Most verbal reasoning tests will provide you with much more information than is necessary to answer the questions. Therefore whilst reading the provided material for the first time, you should skim read it, picking out key words which you can easily refer back to once you’ve read the questions.
  • Dont Panic – One of the key attributes which psychometric tests are designed to assess is your ability to work swiftly and accurately under significant pressure – in short they are designed to panic you. This is why making sure that you stick to your allotted time for each question is so important – it prevents one poorly answered questions from creating a domino effect and damaging the rest of your test.

Hopefully you have found these simple tips on how to handle a psychometric test useful, why not check out some of our other recent posts including;

Job Application Follow-up Etiquette

Advice For The Additional Information Section on an Application Form

Top Tips For Completing Application Forms



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