All you need to know about Psychometric Testing

Love them or hate them, psychometric tests are increasingly being used by companies and recruiters, as a means to work out the suitability of potential employees. If you haven't already undertaken a psychometric test, the chances are extremely high that you will at some stage. Knowing how to succeed in psychometric testing will help dramatically in obtaining a position in your chosen field.

Psychometric tests are not just about luck. Prior preparation will improve your scores and make it easier to focus on what the recruiter is looking for in the testing process. Psychometric tests focus on certain aspects of your knowledge, such as verbal and numerical reasoning, as well as on your personality traits.

To achieve your best results possible in these tests, you'll need to do some preparation in advance. However on the positive side, there are numerous opportunities for you to practice, so treat this as a positive challenge rather than something that will hold you back.

Companies want to know more about job seekers these days. They want to discover their core competencies through the selection process. Conducting psychometric testing helps to give companies a benchmark to work to in terms of objectively measured abilities. It can challenge the company’s initial perceptions that can often be influenced by candidates who answer questions where they tell the interviewer rather what they think they want to hear, than the real truth. It gives the recruiter an opportunity to explore other avenues of concern. This can be done by arranging further interviews where they take a more in-depth look at certain areas. Or by focusing on specific areas when doing reference checks, based on the test results and findings. Psychometric testing will also give the recruiter upfront information on the candidate's strengths and limitations prior to hiring, thus giving the recruiter to opportunity to know how to manage the candidate, according to their strengths and weaknesses.

Psychometric tests are not only used on job seekers. They often also used on existing employees. The reason for this is that they can also shed light on things such as intellectual stretch and capabilities that cannot be measures by current job performance. This is particularly useful when the employee is being considered for a more senior role or one outside their core or known competency areas.

To try to prepare yourself as best as you can for these psychometric tests such as aptitude tests and personality tests.

What are Personality Tests??

The Personality tests measure your behaviour styles, opinions and motivators. For example whether you work better on your own, or in a group. Whether you are leader or a follower. Personality tests will also measure personal attributes, such as temperament, career interests and your personal value system.

Why is a Personality Test important??

A personality test is a questionnaire designed to reveal aspects of an individual’s character or psychological makeup.

We all have our own unique personality, and psychological makeup, which defines how we respond to other people, or to a specific situation or event. Your personality may very likely affect your success in a role. For example, if you are outgoing, and comfortable dealing with people, you are far more likely to succeed in a people orientated role such as a management role, or a business development role, than a person who is introverted and does not interact well with people. The same principle applies, that if you are methodical, systematic and pay a lot of attention to detail, you are more likely to be suitable for engineering roles or accounting roles where attention to detail is important.

For employers it is important and valuable to know how you are likely to behave over the months and years that you are with their company.

The personality test is different to the aptitude test in that a personality test has no right or wrong answer, a personality test is not timed. Your responses to the questions in the personality test allows potential employers to make predictions about how you will respond in the work environment, and therefor assist the potential employer in measuring your suitability to the role and company. This is not only in terms of your ability to do the job, but also importantly, how you will fit.

There are currently over 2500 personality questionnaires on the market.

What are Aptitude Tests??

Aptitude tests are also known as ability tests. These tests provide information about a person’s ability to perform tasks and will also indicate the person’s ability to learn and understand new tasks and information. Aptitude tests measure abilities such as verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning. The main difference between Personality tests and Aptitude tests is that with personality tests there is no right and wrong, whilst with aptitude tests there is a definite right and wrong answer. You are also given a certain amount of time to complete the aptitude test. You will need to work accurately and fast in order to complete the test on time.

The most commonly used aptitude test is that of reasoning. Mental reasoning involves a number of facets and the assessment is likely to measure:


Ability – includes spelling, grammar, ability to understand analogies, and follow detailed written instructions. These questions appear in most general aptitude tests because employees usually want to know how well you can communicate.

Numeric Ability

– includes basic arithmetic, number sequences and simple mathematics. In management level tests it may be more complicated and include charts and graphs, that you will need to be able to interpret. These questions also appear in most general aptitude tests because employers usually want some indication in terms of your ability to use numbers. Numeric ability tests are primarily tests of reasoning ability and the maths needed is relatively straightforward.

Abstract Ability

– measures your ability to identify the underlying logic of a pattern and then determine the solution. Because abstract reasoning ability is believed to be the best indication of fluid intelligence and your ability to learn new things quickly, these questions appear in most general aptitude tests.

Special Ability

– These measures your ability to manipulate shapes in two dimensions or to visualise three dimensional objects presented as two dimensional pictures. These questions are not always found in an aptitude test, unless the job specifically requires good special skills, such as for Architecture and in some branches of maths and sciences.

Mechanical Reasoning

– these tests are designed to assess your knowledge of physical and mechanical principles. Mechanical reasoning questions are used to select for a range of industries and jobs, including technical, trade, emergency services personnel and engineering occupations.

Fault Diagnosis

– these tests are used to select technical personnel who need to be able to find and repair faults in electronic and mechanical systems.

Data Checking

– these tests measure how quickly and accurately errors can be detected in data and are used to select candidates for clerical and data input jobs.

Work Sample

– these tests involve a sample of the work you will be expected to do. These types of tests can be very broad ranging. They may involve an exercise using a spread sheet or word processor, if the job is administrative. Otherwise it could involve giving a presentation, if the job is at a management or supervisory level.

How do you prepare for these tests??

Most importantly find out which of the above tests you will have to do, if you don’t know, ask.

You can significantly improve your scores in aptitude tests by practicing the types of questions that you will face. Use information on the website to get some idea about the types of questions you will be asked. Download a sample of each type of question and practice, so that you have some idea as to what they involve.

If you have never done a psychometric test, or have only been out of formal education for a while, practice can be an important introduction to the things that you'll be expected to answer. As soon as you're told to attend for the tests, start practicing. Practice is the best chance that you have for succeeding, especially when you work with materials that are similar to those you'll be tested on.

Ask the potential employer for examples of the questions expected. If you receive any, this will give you an opportunity to work out the type of questions you'll need to practice. Find websites and books that have practice tests. Do as many as you can before your own testing day.

Focus on your areas of weakness. If you are good at spelling, grammar etc. but battle with maths and number skills, rather focus on the areas where you are weakest. This will also help to improve your confidence.

Challenge yourself and push past what you cannot do. Practice will only be effective when you force yourself to do that which you don't believe you can, or have not done previously.

It’s very important, that you practice against the clock. As most of the aptitude testing, part of psychometric tests is timed, it pays to practice under pressure. Practicing this will get you used to answering a lot of questions in a short space of time and to learn to balance speed and accuracy. Use a timer to practice with; a good time period is to allow yourself about 20 seconds per question before moving on the next one. Use the time allocated on the practice tests as a guide line.

Remember when taking these aptitude and personality tests to be honest as possible. Usually your first instinct is the right one.