When you apply for a job one of the steps you may face is a psychometric test.
Many employers use these tests as a way to screen candidates at varying points in the recruitment process.
On a basic level a psychometric test is a method of assessing a candidate to find out whether they are:
- A good immediate fit for the job
- A good fit overall for the employer and their work culture
- A likely good fit for career advancement within the organisation
The specifics of the test will depend on the job you apply for but areas it will generally assess include cognitive skills, situational judgement and personal behaviours and tendencies.
Preparing in advance for a psychometric test is always to your advantage, ensuring you perform more effectively on the day and reducing any test anxiety you may have.
How to Prepare for Employer’s Psychometric Tests
Psychometric tests can rarely be revised for but you can still build a level of familiarity with the test format and the type of questions you may be asked. In fact preparation is key to providing yourself with the best chance possible of a good result.
So how exactly can you prepare for an employer’s psychometric test?
1. Who Is the Test Provider?
Find out who the psychometric test provider is so that you can:
- Research what you will be tested on
- Source practice papers and sample questions
- Familiarise yourself with the test format
If the test provider is not mentioned in the letter or email you receive from the employer take the initiative and ask them.
2. Practice Tests
Once you know who the test provider is, source a practice test from them. They may also offer sample questions.
Practice tests may be provided free of charge, or you may have to pay for them.
Taking your time to sit practice tests has multiple benefits:
- It builds familiarity with the question formats
- It shows you the kind of areas you may be tested on
- You can use the results to find out where your weaknesses lie
- It allows you to work to the test time limit
- It reduces pre-test nerves
3. What Is Being Tested?
Once you know who the test provider is and have sourced a practice test, have a look at what exactly is being tested.
There will generally be a section of the test that will assess your personality through several ‘more like this/less like this’ questions and possibly situational judgement questions that ask what you would do in a particular scenario.
In addition to this, an employer’s psychometric test will also include aptitude questions on areas like literacy and numeracy, problem-solving, and logical reasoning.
Once you know exactly what you will be tested on, you can improve your skills in those areas.
4. Do Your Research
Researching the employer and the job you are applying for are always advised, but especially when you are faced with an employer psychometric test.
First, by researching the employer you can begin to build a picture of their work culture and ideology.
- What are they looking for in an employee, regardless of the job?
- Which of their values are in line with your own?
- What type of career development do they offer?
Second, by researching the job you can find out what qualifications, skills and experience are needed or desirable.
This will tell you why certain test areas are being assessed, for example, to ascertain whether you have good communication and team-working skills.
5. Familiarise Yourself With the Question Types
Use your practice test to familiarise yourself with the type of question you will face in the employer’s psychometric test.
This could be:
- The areas that will be assessed, such as problem-solving
- The format of the question, multiple-choice or written answer, for example
- The logic of the questions, for instance, choosing the best and the worst options in a situation, instead of simply choosing the best thing to do
Become accustomed to reading the question instructions carefully. This will guard against unnecessary mistakes on the day.
6. Practice Against the Clock
The employer’s psychometric test may be timed so use the practice test to assess how long you can spend on each question.
The employer may recommend a time limit for each section. If they do, work strictly to it. A recommended time limit may suggest that an employer favours speedy responses.
7. Assess Your Strengths and Weaknesses
You may already know your strengths and weaknesses; for instance, your attention to detail which makes it easy for you to pick out the relevant points in a question at speed, or that you have weak numeracy skills. However, taking practice tests can point to the areas that you need to improve too.
In the run-up to the psychometric test, find ways to improve your weak areas. This could be by taking multiple practice papers, improving problem-solving skills with puzzle books, using literacy and numeracy study guides, or reading widely.
8. Use Stress-Busting Techniques
Familiarising yourself with the psychometric test through practice and researching the employer and job should go some way towards reducing your pre-test anxiety but there are plenty of other stress-busting techniques you can develop in the run-up to the test:
- Focussed breathing can bring your attention back to centre by concentrating on your breathing for a few deep breaths in and out.
- Similarly, scattered thinking can be tackled by using your senses; for instance, noticing one thing you can see, one thing you can hear, and one thing you can smell or touch.
- Meditation, as a regular practice, has been shown to improve aspects of cognitive function and reduce stress.
- Spending time in nature can calm a frazzled brain and provide perspective.
- Exercise, whether that means going for a walk, swimming or a game of badminton, improves your health and reduces stress and anxiety too.
Find the stress-busting technique that works best for you.
On The Day
When the day of the employer’s psychometric test arrives, give yourself the best chance possible of a good performance by following these four tips.
1. Make Sure You Are Feeling Your Best
Do your best to get a good night’s sleep before the test. Eat a healthy, nutritional meal, but not so much that you feel bloated and tired. Drink plenty of water to guard against dehydration. Use your chosen stress-busting technique to focus your thinking.
2. Make Sure You Are Prepared
Before you begin the test, make sure you have everything you need to hand.
Take the test in a location where you will not be disturbed. Turn off distractions such as your mobile phone and notifications. Close any other tabs that are open on your computer or device.
Make sure your internet connection is reliable. If you are using a laptop or device powered by a battery, make sure it has sufficient charge to last for the duration of the test.
3. Divide Your Time Between Questions
The practice papers should have given you an idea of how much time you can spend on each question or section of the psychometric test. Keep to this and do not spend too long on any one part of the test.
4. What to Do if You Don’t Know the Answer
If you do not know the answer to a question, you have two options.
First, you can leave the question unanswered for now, move on to the next question, and come back later if you have time.
The second option is to make your best guess. Either way, do not spend so long on that question that you do not have enough time to finish the test.
The use of psychometric tests to find the best candidate for the job is becoming an increasingly common part of the employer recruitment process.
You may not know in advance exactly what the test questions will ask, but you can work towards a top performance by taking full advantage of practice papers, working on your strengths and weaknesses, and fully researching both the job and the employer.
Article by WikiJob - Providing Interview Tips & Practice Aptitude Tests since 2007