Psychometric Testing – What You Need to Know

Written by: Jennifer Feldman

In today’s metric–based society, psychometric testing has become a standard part of the recruitment process. For those that don’t work within the human resources field, this word can be confusing for you. This is primarily because different companies and positions use the word psychometric test to refer to completely different assessments. I am here to walk you through the basics on everything you need to know about psychometric testing.

What is a Psychometric Test?

A psychometric test is an umbrella term used to refer to any assessment used to evaluate a possible candidate’s performance. Every industry might use a different assessment to gain insight to whether a candidate has the aptitude to be successful within a given position. Depending on the industry employers might test a candidate’s technical skills, cognitive ability, personality, or situational judgment. The term psychometric test can be subdivided into three primary categories: aptitude tests, behavioural tests, and assessment centre exercises.

What is an Aptitude Test?

An aptitude test is any test which measures an individual’s potential to complete a task without previous training. The most common aptitude tests are numerical, verbal and logical assessments. The term aptitude test is also used to refer to technical and skills–based exams. In this genre of technical tests, the point of the exam is to make sure a candidate has the technical hard skills needed to complete the job. Engineers, technicians, mechanics, and skilled workers are often required to take an aptitude test before getting hired for a job. The last form of aptitude test is a skill–based test. This type of exam usually evaluates a candidate’s computer and clerical skills.

What is a Behavioural Test?

A behavioural test is used to by employers to ensure a candidate displays specific traits that are well-suited for the role they are applying for. There are two types of behavioural assessments given by employers to evaluate potential candidates: personality tests and situational judgment tests. A situational judgement test requires candidates to answer questions on how they might respond to different work-related scenarios.

What is an Assessment Day?

The assessment day is often the final component of the recruitment process. It is usually a day-long activity given either at the employer’s office or a designated assessment centre. The assessment day is typically made up of a series of exercises used to give the employer an understanding of a candidate’s skills and work potential. The assessment day may include any of the following exercises: interview, work related role play, group activity, project, or case study. Employers use this day to try and simulate work scenarios—they want to see how candidates work in a group and interact with others.

Are Psychometric Tests Timed?

Unfortunately, both aptitude tests and assessment day activities are timed. The point of these tools is to give an employer a picture of how you perform under pressure. That being said, behavioural tests don’t usually have time constraints. It is important that you know that most personality tests are fairly long. You want to make sure you don’t get tired while taking the exam and answer questions carelessly. The questions might seem repetitive, but they are created in this manner on purpose. You might feel like you can go into a personality test without preparing because there are no right and wrong answers. This is a common misconception. There is a clear personality profile which matches each profession.

Why do Companies Use Psychometric Testing?

We live in a result–driven culture. Like with everything else in life, employers use psychometric testing to obtain exact data on a candidate’s work potential. This gives them a quantifiable tool to use when comparing candidates. Employers have learned that replacing a bad hire can cost as much as one and a half times the cost of his or her initial salary. Therefore, it is worthwhile to invest more time and money into the initial recruitment process. This comprehensive testing seen during the recruitment process may also be helpful for you as a candidate. The recruitment process, can give you an overview of the role you are applying for, and if it is a good match for you.

How Should I Prepare Prior to the Interview?

Gone are the days of walking into an interview and winging it. We are currently experiencing one of the most competitive job markets. It is essential that you minimise the amount of stress you feel on the testing day and make sure you present your best self. It has been proven that stress has a negative impact on test results. Practising online allows candidates to experience the exact conditions and time constraints they will experience on the testing day. Before the test, make sure you ask your employer which assessment company they are using. Each assessment company has a unique style exam. Once you know which company they are using make sure you prepare using preparation materials for the appropriate assessment company test. If the company does not provide this information, take a look a look at this list of practice tests and assessment company exercises tailored to different employers. For better or worse, with each passing year it is becoming increasingly more difficult to land the job of your dreams. As the competition increases, it is become more and more important you come prepared for each part of the hiring process.

This article was contributed by Jennifer Feldman. She is a speech and language expert and blogger at JobTestPrep. She specialises in writing about the employment hiring process.