Psychometric Testing: how to approach it in a job interview

By: Lisa Spiteri

In the current economic climate competition for jobs is intense. Employers are often faced with the seemingly impossible task of trying to identify the best candidate for the job amongst a large pool of high calibre applicants – all with equally impressive CVs, many of whom are likely to be well qualified to fulfil the job role.

Securing a job is no longer just about having the right credentials or a good track record: employers want to feel confident that they are choosing someone who will fit well within their organisation and possesses the necessary motivation, personality and attitude for the position, which is why psychometric testing has become increasingly popular as a means of assessing the suitability of candidates.

Different tests are used to assess different personal qualities and range from verbal and numerical reasoning tests (for which there are definitive answers) to personality and motivation questionnaires (for which there are no right or wrong answers), and you may not be given any prior indication of what type of test you will be given – if you are given any warning at all.

Preparation, preparation, preparation!

Not all employers will tell you that you will have to take part in a test, so the best advice we can give is to expect the unexpected and be prepared just in case. The more knowledge and understanding you have, the more you are likely to perform well in a formal test environment. Familiarising yourself with typical test formats will help you keep calm and relaxed, and practising sample tests will help get you into the right way of thinking – and you should be able to improve your score as a result.

Tests such as verbal, numerical and spatial reasoning are designed to assess your ability to process information accurately. Practicing these tests will hone your skills and help you achieve a higher percentage of correct answers.

Personality and motivation questionnaires are more tricky because they are so much more subjective. You may be faced with statements such as ‘I like to take risks’ and asked whether you strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree. Be as honest as you can in how you approach these tests; your assessor will be looking to see whether you are consistent or contradictory in your answers (and in amongst the 50 or more questions with which you’ll be faced there will be plenty of chances to slip up!) and build an overall picture of your character from your responses. Practice tests give you the opportunity to analyse the results yourself – put yourself in an assessor’s shoes and think critically about whether your responses highlight any weaknesses. And then work on turning them into positives.

Practice makes perfect

A quick Google search will throw up many websites on which you can find practice tests. A good place to start is SHL. You can try sample questions or take a free full-length practice test, for which you will receive a detailed feedback report that provides hints and tips for improving your performance. And if you want to get general advice on different types of tests, visit Thomas International – the site includes background information about psychometrics, guidance on tests, sample reports and video clips.

Download our free Interview Questions Factsheet

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