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How to Pass Psychometric Tests

Posted on 13/09/2014 by Jo Hodge


When you are being considered for a role, many organisations will ask you to complete one or more tests at some point in the
process.Unlike other, skills-based tests, psychometric tests assess a candidate’s personality and how well they are likely to fit with the role, team and organisation.

What is a psychometric test?

There are two main types of psychometric test: one that assesses your personality and character traits – for example, are you empathetic, communicative or ambitious? The second kind tends to be longer and harder and assesses your reasoning or cognitive ability, ie how good you are at things such as words, numbers, problem-solving or spatial awareness. And sometimes employers will tailor these according to the type of job. The tests are usually done online and most tests are multiple-choice.

Why do employers use them?

Recruiting a new employee can be expensive and employers need to make sure they get the right person. Some characteristics, like team working skills, empathy and the ability to reason are difficult to assess at interview and psychometric tests are a more reliable indicator.

Psychometric tests also have the big advantage of removing any potential unconscious bias on behalf of the interviewer. All applicants, whatever their race, gender or ethnicity are judged on exactly the same criteria, which makes the process fairer for everyone.

Types of test

Personality/motivation questionnaires

These tests attempt to find out how you behave in a working environment, what motivates you and how you work with others. There are no right or wrong answers in these type of tests. They typically take the form of a question with two or more answers. Although you may agree with more than one answer, you are asked to choose the one you most prefer or agree with.

Ability/aptitude tests

These generally test your ability to reason and think logically, rather than any specific skills related to the role. They usually take the form of multiple-choice questionnaires, but this time with definite right and wrong answers. The tests are often timed and may test your numerical, verbal and logical abilities.

How to prepare

Firstly, make sure you know in advance if there will be a test when you are invited to an interview. If you applied through TPP, your Consultant will either tell you or be able to find out for you. It may be worth asking if you can do the test online in advance, to take the pressure off on the day.

Look for similar tests online and practice as many as you can. Although this may not help you answer the questions in the actual test, it should make you more confident about the whole process.

If you have a disability or require any special provisions, make sure you contact the employer in advance (or your TPP Consultant) to let them know.

When you start the test, make sure you read any instructions carefully. Check if you can go back to a question and amend an answer, as some tests will not allow you to do this. If the test has practice questions, make sure you do these before starting the real test.

If there is a set time limit, keep an eye on the time while you work through the test to make sure you’re not taking too long on each section.

Don’t spend too long on an individual question. If you’re not sure about the answer, just move on to the next question. You may be able to come back to it at the end if you have time to spare.

Don’t try and guess the right answer, but give your honest opinion. Most of these tests are designed so they are very hard to ‘beat’ and contain checks to make sure you are being consistent, plus you don’t know exactly what qualities the employer is looking for. You’re better off answering truthfully.

In personality tests, put down the first answer that springs to mind, rather than spending ages thinking about the question. This should more accurately reflect your real opinions.

Don’t worry too much about the tests. These are very rarely make-or-break for an employer, and your interview and CV will usually count much more.

Ask for feedback

When getting interview feedback, ask specifically about test results - the employer should let you see your test results and scores and most will be happy to discuss them with you.

The feedback can be very useful in steering your job hunt and could tell you if you are applying for roles you are not really suited for. For example, if you’re not particularly good at handling stressful situations, becoming an emergency technician is probably not your ideal career path.

Resources and practice tests

AssessmentDay - practice aptitude tests.

Institute of Psychometric Coaching - professional preparation for psychometric tests.

Practice Aptitude Tests

Please note, TPP does not endorse any of these organisations. Some may charge for full services.