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Psychometric Tests: What, Why & How to Prepare

Psychometric Tests: What, Why & How to Prepare main image

Guest post: Richard McMunn

If you’re getting ready to leave university and start applying for graduate jobs, you’ll face plenty of new challenges. There’s the hunt for job opportunities, professional networking, applications writing and choosing outfits for interviews, and in some cases you’ll also be required to take psychometric tests.

Never heard of these before, or just not sure what to expect or how to prepare? Keep reading...

What is a psychometric test?

Psychometric testing is one of the most scientific methods employers have to ensure they find the most suitable candidates for any positions available. In countries such as the UK and US, psychometric testing is commonly used to assess applicants for a whole range of career paths, industries, and positions. Due to the global nature of business, this trend is likely to grow in usage in other countries around the world.

So, just what is a psychometric test? It typically comes in two parts. The first is the ability section, designed to measure a candidate’s aptitude and skills, logical reasoning and deduction. Normally, this sort of test will be multiple choice in nature, but set under a strict time limit such as having to answer between 20 and 30 questions in a half hour. The questions posed will be used to gauge a candidate’s verbal abilities, numeric capability, as well as abstract and spatial reasoning.

The second part of the psychometric test is used to determine a candidate’s personality. This is done through a series of questions numbering anywhere between 50 and 500 depending on the job being applied for and the type of employer. Again, these questions have answers which are multiple choice in nature, although the time limit is not normally so strict.

Why is psychometric testing used?

There are a few different reasons why employers use psychometric testing to assess new job applicants, but the fundamental one is that they want to find the most suitable employees in the most efficient way possible.

By screening job applicants through psychometric tests, employers can eliminate those they believe will not fit in with the business or current workforce. Although it may cost more money initially in the interviewing process, these employers believe that by investing in psychometric testing, they will end up with the best staff, and that over time this choice will easily repay itself.

Candidates should also view psychometric testing in a positive light. If, as a result of the testing a business or company deems them to be unsuitable and does not give them the job, this should be viewed from a positive angle. The chances are that if they had won the position, they may have ended up pretty miserable and hating every minute of working there!

Psychometric test questions: How to prepare

For some, the words ‘psychometric test’ can produce feelings of fear and panic, especially for first-time takers. This does not need to be the case, though, and there are many different methods of preparing for psychometric test questions.

Websites such as How2become.com offer different types of practice psychometric test questions for a number of careers, whether they be military, law enforcement or industrial. Although this site is focused on careers in the UK, the principles of these online tests can be applied anywhere in the world.

As with anything, the more you practice answering psychometric test questions, the better you’ll become. Knowing what to expect in any given situation always offers an advantage over entering a situation blind; and in today's competitive job market, this edge may be all that is needed in taking the first steps along a career path that will be fulfilling in every way.

Richard McMunn is the founder How2become.com. Richard spent 17 years in the UK Fire Service and now provides specialist recruitment training for those looking embark on a public sector career. You can also connect with How2become on Twitter.

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