Psychometric & Other Tests

Employers are increasingly using psychological evaluation as part of their assessment procedures – both for selection of staff and for development and counselling. Psychological evaluations can help you:

•    Demonstrate your strengths
•    Be assessed objectively against other candidates
•    Select a career path for which you are best suited
•    Find out more about your strengths and limitations

To help you prepare for the tests, we have included the following tips of the Psychological Assessment process.

Some hints to help you during the assessment process

•    Preparation for the assessment is not necessary. Just try and have a good night’s sleep the night before and ensure you have eaten (you may wish to take some snacks with you if the testing session is long).
•    If an unexpected or upsetting event occurs prior to the assessment, consider postponing your appointment until you feel more settled.
•    When booking in for testing remember morning is better for most people as you won’t have the day’s stresses behind you.
•    If you need glasses to read or to see a computer screen remember to take them with you.
•    During the timed tests, both accuracy and speed are important. So don’t spend too much time on any one question. If you are struggling with an item, skip it and come back to it if you have time.
•    During the un-timed tests remember to be yourself, avoid the middle or unsure responses as much as possible and work as quickly as you can.
•    Try not to stress about the assessments – remember this is only part of the process and we all have strengths and areas for development – no one is perfect!
•    Regardless of the outcome of your assessment, you should call for feedback once you have received the outcome of your application. This will allow you to learn about your strengths and areas for development.
Interviewers can identify a lot by observing and speaking to you, the job seeker. Psychological assessment as an extended form of interview confirms assumptions made about you during the actual interview.
Much time and money are invested by employers in training a new employee; essentially they want to make sure they are hiring the right person for the job in terms of skills, attributes and knowledge.

Types of Psychological Tests Used

•    Aptitudes. These are timed tests that look at your reasoning skills. They can be abstract, numerical, verbal, etc.
•    Motivation. It is an un-timed questionnaire that identifies what aspects of work are important to you. It also identifies what motivates you to work.
•    Personality. It is another un-timed test that gives an insight on your behavior, values, and ethics. Most questions are true or false, yes or no.

Preparation for a Psychological Assessment

There’s nothing much you can do in preparation for a psychological test. However, you can remind yourself few things:
•    You cannot fail, but will only find out more about yourself by the end of the session.
•    If by unforeseen circumstance something happens to you that may affect your performance, or you are suffering from stress or illness, inform the administrator or reschedule your appointment.
•    Get a good night’s sleep.
•    Plan to get there on time so you are not hurried before starting the test.

How Test Administrators Know if You’re Telling the Truth

Most psychological tests have built-in lie detectors called a ‘social desirability scale’. This measures the accuracy of your answers and can be easily identified. The only reason applicants would lie in a psychological test would be to paint a good picture of themselves to be more appealing to an employer. To help minimize this, personality questionnaire designers have incorporated questions that target people doing this. Psychologists are informed to exercise a degree of caution when interpreting the results.

The Validity of Psychological Tests

The contribution of the test towards the overall application and the amount of emphasis placed on the results will differ depending on the importance of a particular skill or quality in a role you are applying for. Psychological tests are registered and tested for accuracy from a Psychological Assessment Board. They must meet a certain criteria of accuracy.

What Results Reveal about You, the Applicant

Psychologists interpret the results and compile a “feedback report” which gives a clear description of what skills, knowledge and personal qualities you, the applicant, have. They will then see whether you “fit” the role.
There is no ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ rating. However, you maybe unsuccessful in obtaining the role you’ve applied for. The reason for that is the employer is looking for a person they believe will ‘fit’ into the role, team and organisational culture of the company. If the fit is incorrect, there is a strong possibility of you leaving the organization within the first three months, assuming they’ll give you a go.

What does psychometric even mean?

The word psychometric comes from Greek; psycho meaning mind and Latin metric meaning measurement. Psychometrics includes the measurement of knowledge, abilities, aptitudes, and personality traits.
Over the last 50 years tests have been developed for educational and psychological measurement. Examples of such tests are: Intelligent Quotient (IQ) Mental agility, Manual dexterity, Aptitudes, Occupational Interests and Personality.

How can you benefit from taking psychometric tests?

If you are unhappy in your job or if you are unsure of the career direction you are heading in, taking a reliable psychometric assessment for career choice and development can help you to cut through the doubt and focus on the areas that will be most important for you to consider.

It will also help you to become aware of your highest aptitude and where that can be best applied. This will be the one that you find easiest and which, even on a bad day, you can still do better than the other aptitudes. Your interests and aptitudes can be further investigated with a qualified consultant and a particular job identified. Psychometric tests aim to give you the personal insight that will help you make a positive and successful career step as you choose a new job and work environment.

A psychometric test consultancy service is designed to provide you with all the information you will need to make a positive start, to have something to look forward to, and essential back up when you need it.

What is a personality test?

Personality profiling or Personality Assessment is the most prolific of all the tests and assessments available.

There is a vast variety of personality tests that measure our behavioural traits and characteristics against ʻnormal behaviour’. One of the earliest was a test of Extroversion – Introversion developed by Hans Eynsenck. He developed a scale which showed how extreme E scores were found in people who were wildly extrovert with little concern about their social behaviour and as a consequence, were likely to be institutionalised. At the other end of the scale, were those who were so introverted that they were socially isolated.

Today’s modern tests measure anything from 5 to 50 personality traits predicting behavioural characteristics under various circumstances. Personality tests are used widely in commercial organisations for staff selection and development and organisations such as hospitals, schools, universities and prisons.

Personality profiling is particularly valuable in career development as it is used to measure traits which will determine where your personality characteristics could be an asset e.g. are you organised, would you like to work with a small group of people or in a large open office, are you are even tempered, eager to please, and a host of other traits which will assist you to find the right type of work as well as the right type of environment that would be best suited to your personality allowing you to thrive.

How can you tell the difference between a good test and a poor test?

If a psychometric test is good enough to pass The British Psychological Society standards you can be assured it is reliable. Reliability is important because you will want results you can trust to allow you to make important decisions about your future. A poor test will not offer reliability or consistency.

What about online tests?

Some are not even good enough for practice sessions because the results are not reliable or consistent! However there are a number of test distributors who are excellent, some of whom may design and sell tests to individual qualified consultants and qualified personnel in organizations. SHL, Team Focus and the Psychological Consultancy are among the top test providers. Many universities also offer on-line tests. The British Psychological Society has a register of qualified consultants.

Popular tests and what they provide

FIRO B – Helps people understand their own behaviour and that of others in interpersonal situations. It explores three basic interpersonal needs (Inclusion, Control, and Affection) along two dimensions (Expressed and Wanted)

Myers Briggs – Explains why different kinds of people approach a problem in their particular way, prefer different kinds of work, and sometimes why they find it hard to understand each other.

Cattell 16PF (16 Personality Factors) – The way we see ourselves will be influenced by our upbringing and education and over time we will have learned to hide or express our feelings. The 16PF help us to understand our personality and therefore our strengths so we can utilise them to best advantage.

Hogan Personality Inventory – Designed for the workplace, it matches individuals to a role where they will be effective by playing to their natural advantages. Although it is only a five-factor model it is derived through eliminating all areas of less importance concentrating on those needed to find the best match.

Type Dynamics Indicator (TDI) personality type questionnaire

The TDI will generate a career report identifying your own preferred behaviour and some fundamental ways in which you differ from other people and some suggestions for areas of personal development.

Aptitude tests

Aptitude tests are timed; anything from 10mins to 30mins each and the results are usually given in percentiles not percentages. A percentile score will measure your results against a particular group eg. Graduates, Professionals, Administrators, Mechanics etc. Some large companies have their own percentile scales for Graduate selection.

Aptitude tests fall into 3 main categories for career development.

•    Critical Reasoning – a measure of how strong you are at problem solving; reasoning, and being rational
•    Numerical Reasoning – mathematical problems to solve, usually performed without the use of a calculator
•    Abstract Reasoning – measures how well you recognize abstract patterns and their logical relationship

Occupational Interests Tests

There is no pass or fail, these tests are designed to establish your highest interest across a whole range of occupations. You are usually asked to score your interest level in a number of tasks, eg. would you like to organise events, would you like to be on stage, would you like to work with children. There are hundreds of questions asked and when all your high scores are collected you will have a short list of areas to explore with your consultant. There is also another benefit in that you can stop wasting energy on thinking about all the areas you marked lower down the scale that no longer come into the equation.