Psychometric testing is regularly used as part of many organisations’ recruitment process, including for graduate and internships, so it’s important to be ready for them, understand what they are and ultimately what you need to do.
What exactly are psychometric tests and why are they important?
Psychometric tests are a method used to measure your mental capabilities and behavioural style, which provides job relevant information about you. They help organisations objectively assess whether a candidate has the necessary attributes and skills for a job and company. Often, you’ll be asked to take a test after completing an online application form and will usually get around 48 hours to finish it.
Some recruiters will look at test scores alongside your application form and resume, others – where there are a lot of candidates for example – will reject everyone who falls below a certain score. Which is why you should take them seriously.
What will a psychometric test show a potential employer?
There’s more than one way to skin a psychometric cat, here are the most common tests and their purposes:
Typically there are three areas aptitude tests cover:
Abstract and conceptual reasoning – your ability to identify and interpret patterns and rules in data, shapes or images and how quickly you can do it, often by identifying what comes next in a sequence. This is a skill that can be improved, so don’t panic if you struggle at first. Practise.
Numerical reasoning – your understanding of statistical data and your ability to make logical deductions using it. The level of difficulty will vary between roles – a banker is likely to face tougher questions than someone going into HR – but what is tested will be similar, for example: percentage calculations, cost and sales analysis, rates and trends analysis, graphs and tables interpretation and currency conversions. Don’t be daunted, techniques can be learnt, but do pay attention to details such as units, scales and labels on graphs during the test.
Verbal reasoning – your ability to quickly understand a body of text about a random topic. You’ll be asked to read a text and decide whether a statement relating to it is true or false, or if you cannot say. It’s important to base your answer only on information provided in the question, not on preconceived knowledge, even if you disagree with it. Some trick questions may ask about things not mentioned in the text, but if the information isn’t there you should use the ‘cannot say’ option.
Personality tests and situational judgement
The data from a personality test will help recruiters understand how you work and how you might fit into a particular team or organisation. These tests will often ask how you would react in certain situations. Don’t try and second guess what the best response is – there is no wrong answer and being honest will provide a better picture of who you are.
Large companies such as KPMG, Deloitte and Telstra are increasingly using gamified test during graduate recruitment. These games are interactive, engaging and provide the same insights as traditional aptitude tests. They’re harder to prepare for but you can research which tool a company uses and become familiar with it. For example KPMG uses Revelian’s Theme Park Hero.
Prepare. Practise. Repeat
As we’ve mentioned you can, and should, prepare for these tests. There are mountains of free and paid for practise tests online that you can take advantage of which provide answers and detailed explanations. Here are some to explore:
And bear these tips in mind when you take a test:
- Find yourself a quiet spot with a strong internet connection.
- Use a mouse – you’ll be needing to move and click speedily.
- At the beginning, check how many questions there are and how long you have. Work out approximately how much time you should allow for each answer. Effective time management is crucial.
- If you are struggling on a question, guess and move on. Getting hung up on one question could ruin your overall score and these tests are not usually negative marked, which means you don’t lose points for incorrect answers.
- Read questions carefully and understand what you are being asked to do.
- Don’t get help from friends. You may be asked at an assessment centre to retake the tests and they’ll notice if your scores dip.
The more you do them and the more you practise, the better you’ll get. Good luck!