Everything you need to know about psychometric tests

Including what they are, why they're used and how best to prepare for them.
Grace Harris
Grace Harris
online tests

Applying for graduate jobs can be stressful and hard – let’s not sugar coat it. The process is often long and competition is fierce; and now, some graduate employers have started implementing psychometric tests.

We know what you’re thinking: what on earth is a psychometric test?!

Don’t fret – we’re here to help dispel the myths surrounding psychometric tests and put your mind at ease.

Girl confused by psychometric tests

What is a psychometric test?

Putting it simply, psychometric tests measure aspects of your mental ability and personality to determine if you’re a good fit for a role and company. The word actually relates to a branch of psychology known as psychometry, which basically focuses on the measurement of mental states and processes.

They test intelligence, aptitude, cognitive ability and personality to extract information about a candidate that a standard face-to-face interview may not.

Psychometric tests are rarely used in isolation; when applying for a job you will more than likely still go through the usual application process – sending over a CV and cover letter, filing in an application form, having a face-to-face interview etc. – but a psychometric test may well form part of the final hurdle before being offered a job.

Why are psychometric tests used?

No matter what you might think, they are not included in the recruitment process simply to freak you out. Psychometric tests are unique in their ability to reveal a candidate’s suitability for a role. They can provide an objective and unique measure of your intelligence and personality, but they are also useful when it comes to reducing HR and recruitment costs, as they ensure hiring professionals only spend time interviewing the best of the best.

They also help avoid high employee turnover as they can actually improve your experience in a company. Candidates can rest assured that if they have successfully passed through the recruitment process, including a psychometric test, and been offered a job at the end of it, then it means they are not only a good fit for the role and company, but perfectly suited in every aspect.

With the recruitment process now so rigorous and competitive, businesses are looking for new ways to ensure the best fit for them makes it through, so despite how scary a psychometric test may seem, they are used for your benefit.

What can I expect from a psychometric test?

They are generally split into two main parts: aptitude tests and personality tests.

Aptitude tests: These tests assess your reasoning and intelligence levels. They generally include tests such as numerical, spatial and verbal reasoning, as well as error checking and potentially abstract reasoning, too.

You will usually have a set amount of time to sit these tests and will get an objective score at the end of it. As there are distinct right and wrong answers for these tests, timing and accuracy are crucial in being successful.

Man confused by numerical psychometric tests

Personality tests: These are a little more complicated, as they attempt to turn a candidate’s’ thoughts, feelings and behaviours into a score that can be measured quantitatively – despite there technically being no right or wrong answer. You will usually be presented with different statements, and potentially some bizarre questions, detailing different scenarios and actions you could take or feelings you may have, and be asked to select an answer truthfully.

These rarely have a time limit and aren’t often undertaken in exam conditions. The answers are often presented on a scale of agreement or disagreement, in which you must answer truthfully.

Psychometric tests about personality

How can I prepare?

Each of the above two sections of a psychometric test require a very different approach to revision.

Aptitude tests: there are plenty of practice tests online that you can do, and practice does make perfect when it comes to these types of tests. These are usually done online, rather than on paper, so finding and completing some on the internet will stand you in good stead for the real deal.

You may be presented with graphs, tables, charts and almost definitely a LOT of numbers, as well as short passages of text you may need to analyse. So get yourself used to all of these with lots of research.

Also be sure to read instructions carefully and have any equipment you may need to hand – a calculator (if you’re allowed), pens, rough paper and a watch so you know how much time has passed.

Personality tests: Calculators will almost definitely not be needed here, and your approach to a personality test should be very different. Whilst it is advisable to seek out practice personality tests online, it is impossible to tell what questions and scenarios you will be presented with when you get down to it.

The best approach is to take a deep breath and take your time – as stated previously these are rarely timed and there are no right or wrong answers, so it’s best to stay calm, read the instructions carefully and remain honest. Taking the test in a quiet environment is best.

It is also important to carefully read the job description in question and really analyse what kind of person they are looking for beforehand, so you have an inkling as to what the questions may relate to.

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