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Jun 092009
Participants completing daily psychometric tes...

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Psychometric testing has become commonplace in today’s sophisticated selection and recruitment world – but what is it, and what does it mean to the average job candidate?

In a nutshell, psychometrics is the field of psychology concerned with the design, administration, and interpretation of quantitative tests for the measurement of psychological variables like intelligence, aptitude, and personality traits. Originally developed for use in educational psychology, this type of testing was quickly adapted by occupational psychologists as a selection tool for screening job candidates.

It’s a method that’s growing in popularity. Psychometric testing is now routinely used by more than 80% of the US Fortune 500 companies and more than 75% of the UK Times Top 100 companies. Many Irish employers have also integrated psychometric testing into their selection process. So, if you haven’t run into them already, you probably will before too long.

Psychometric tests come in a variety of “flavours”, and are generally multiple choice format. They fall broadly into two categories: aptitude and ability tests (the traditional IQ test falls into this group), and personality and interest questionnaires.

Aptitude & Ability Tests

These tests analyse your reasoning ability, how effectively you think on your feet and solve problems. They can include a variety of question types – numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, abstract reasoning, mechanical reasoning, spatial awareness and data interpretation– but the two you’re most likely to encounter in the recruitment process are numerical reasoning and verbal reasoning questions.

Aptitude and ability tests are usually multiple-choice format tests that you will be asked to complete on paper in a given time limit under typical test conditions. Increasingly you may be asked to complete these tests on a computer.

  • Questions are generally short, and have only one correct answer.
  • Although you can’t really study for these tests, you can get more comfortable with them by practicing.
  • In the run up to the test you can “prime” your mind for logical thought by tackling as many word and number problems and puzzles as you can get your hands on.
  • The actual tests are designed to be difficult to complete in the allotted time. It’s important to pace yourself, and not to waste time. Read each question carefully, give it your best shot, then move on to the next.

Personality & Interest Questionnaires

These tests are designed to assess the “fit” of your personality and interests with the organisation and job. They typically provide the employer with a “personality profile” for each candidate, which they then can then compare.

  • Unlike Aptitude and Ability tests there is no one right answer here. Answers are typically aranged on a “sliding scale” (e.g. from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree).
  • Remember that althought there are no “right or wrong” answers, the employer is obviously looking for something – otherwise why give you the test?
  • Be honest, but remembere that you’re undergoing a selection process. You may want to consider what the employer wants and the job you’re applying for as you answer each question – but if you do make sure you apply the same approach consistently throughout the test.

Find out more

You’ll find plenty of information on psychometric testing, along with free practice tests, on the internet. Simply type “Psychometric Testing” into your favourite search engine and browse through the results.

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