They sound a bit scary but the main rule is to relax – these are not to see if you’re really a serial killer, as one candidate suggested to me! Forget brain power and concentrate on being yourself. Try to be clever by giving them what you think is the right answer and you will normally be exposed as playing the system – just what you don’t want! Psychometric tests don't require right answers - they just require you to respond honestly.
In reality psychometric tests are used to identify a candidate's aptitudes, personality or abilities. These tests have been developed over many years and are an established technique which produces accurate results. Tests are often used for preliminary screening prior to an interview, or they may be used between first and second interviews.
Most psychometric tests are performed online and with a time limit – if you answer honestly without overanalysing the questions, you should have plenty of time.
Types of psychometric test
Personality tests aim to identify a personal type and there are no 'right or wrong' answers. They often take the form of paired items or pictures that you are asked to choose a preference. For example, would you rather read a book or go to a party?
To prepare for a personality test:
- practise using tests so that you are familiar with the style and format of questions
- answer questions honestly and without trying to guess what the 'right' answer is
- omit any questions that you do not understand
Aptitude or ability tests are those that are designed to assess your reasoning or cognitive ability. Aptitude tests are usually timed and include:
- verbal tests
- numerical tests
- spatial reasoning
- subject / job-specific tests
To prepare for an aptitude test:
- practise as many tests as possible
- try to find out whether there are particular tests for your type of job or industry
- ask your careers or employment service about which tests are best for practice
How do I pass a psychometric test?
Remember, there are no right or wrong answers in personality tests, and aptitude tests are often used as a starting point for recruitment. When taking these tests, make sure you:
- read the instructions carefully
- work through briskly and accurately
- don't try to guess the right answer
- answer honestly
- practise so that you're not distracted by the style or formatting of questions
- pay attention to what you're being asked but don't dwell for long - move to the next question if you're unsure
Where can I practise psychometric tests?
Career and employment services may provide training or practice in a range of psychometric tests. Larger organisations may also provide practice testing and coaching on the website. A quick internet search will also provide a whole range of companies offering practice opportunities but many of these will charge!