Introduction into Psychometric Testing & Assessment Centres

Welcome Students! 

Being a new graduate can be an exciting time. One chapter of life is closing and another is just beginning. But, in many ways, finding work is a job in itself. Making that transition from student to employee is not always easy.

We’re here to support you on your journey and have outlined our best tips in relation to psychometric testing and assessment centres, which will help you understand what you can expect starting down the path to gainful employment.

Getting Selected to Interview for a RoleSales Recruitment

If a hiring manager is interested in getting to know more about you and your qualifications, they’ll contact you to discuss their recruitment process.  Once you are selected, you’ll need to prepare yourself for some common candidate experiences such as psychometric testing & assessment centres.

 Introduction into Psychometric Testing

 What are psychometric tests?

Psychometrics literally means ‘measurement of the mind’ and these tests are designed in a way to measure your suitability for a role based on the required personal characteristics and cognitive abilities. Essentially, they seek to find how you process and reason information, and how your preferred working style and personality drives your behaviour.

Tests are divided into the following broad categories:

Aptitude/ability tests: these tests usually measure your cognitive ability and assess areas like verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning and abstract reasoning.  These tests can be general in nature and others will measure your ability to apply critical thinking in these areas.  Critical thinking tests assess your capacity to conceptualise, analyse and reason when presented with a specific scenario. There are also technical tests such as mechanical & spatial reasoning and visual acuity.

Personality tests: these assessments work out your workplace behavioural style and preferences. Review some sample personality questions here.

Interests/Motivation tests: These tests focus on your values and motivations measuring the factors that stimulate and energise you.

Skills-based tests: Skills-based tests usually require prior knowledge of concepts associated with a particular industry and therefore can include assessments on accounting, IT skills, sales aptitude, etc.

Before the Test

Make sure you know whether the tests are to be supervised and conducted at the employer’s offices, or unsupervised, in which case you complete them in your own time.

Supervised Testing Sessions

  • Where the tests are to be supervised, confirm the location and timing for the testing session with the person who is managing the testing session. If you are not certain of the location, get specific instructions from them so you know exactly where you are going on the day and can arrive in good time.
  • Find out the type of tests you’ll be taking and the amount of time you’ll need to dedicate to the session.
  • Check out the website of employer you are applying for. Some organisations offer free demo material of the psychometric tests they use to help you prepare.
  • If you don’t receive a set of practice questions to prep for the day, ask for them.
  • Familiarise yourself with the types of questions you’ll be assessed on, spend some time practising with sample questions. When you know what to expect, it becomes much easier to manage stress and decide how much time you will need for each question considering you will be working on a strict timeline.
  • The night before the testing session, try to get a good sleep.
  • If you require reading glasses, remember to take them with you. Also ensure you have a working calculator with you.
  • Plan to arrive ten minutes early. Remember to allow time for transport and parking.
  • If for health reasons, you do not feel able to perform to the best of your ability on the day of testing, please inform the test administrator before commencing the tests.
  • Turn off your mobile phone before you enter the building.
  • Make a good first impression and be professional, positive and polite.
  • Read the instructions on how to complete the test carefully before commencing.
  • Try to remain calm and relaxed. Remember that this is only one part of the selection process.

Unsupervised Testing Sessions

Some employers will ask you to complete tests in your own time and send you the link to access the online system to complete your testing session.

Preparing for unsupervised tests should include:

  • Ensuring you can complete the tests in a quiet place where you will not be interrupted for the duration of the assessment. Under no circumstances should you attempt timed ability and skills tests in noisy environments prone to interruption by others or to your internet connection.
  • If you require reading glasses, find them before starting. Also ensure you have a working calculator with you.
  • Read the instructions on how to complete the test carefully before commencing.
  • Complete the example questions before starting the actual test.  The example questions not only give you a valuable look at the type of questions in the actual test, but also how to navigate the test before you start the actual timed test.
  • The tests are an assessment of your current knowledge and skills. In an unsupervised setting, this requires you not to seek support from other people or the internet. Subsequent discovery of taking steps such as these to achieve a higher score could result in termination of your employment.

Here are some testing websites worth checking out:

  • CareerHunter – consists of aptitude tests, personality and interest tests providing a full report on suitable careers taking into account your skills and personal characteristics.
  • CUBIKS Online Assessment – offers ability tests (Logiks Intermediate and Advanced), personality assessments, situational judgement test and assessment and development centres exercises.
  • Psychometric Success – provides the ability to take free psychometric tests from each type/category and assesses technical and clerical ability.
  • Open Psychometric Test Resource – offers insightful information for each type of tests e.g. mechanical, critical thinking, inductive reasoning amongst others, and allows you to practice for free.
  • People Central Limited – Offers insightful information for each type of test e.g. critical thinking, personality profiling amongst others and has practice questions to review.
  • Practice Aptitude Tests – there is the option to take tests for free either to practice or check your overall score.
  • Assessment Day – has free practice tests but also premium packages for which you can get 12 months online access and practice for SHL, Kenexa, Saville, Talent Q and Cubiks tests.
  • Job Test Prep – offers online preparation for assessment, free practice tests and aptitudes tests that are specific to a profession/industry.
  • Institute of Psychometric Coaching – provides an introduction to psychometric tests and offers free samples for practice.
  • Assessment-Training.com – offers 18 free practice tests, including diagrammatic reasoning and spatial reasoning.

 During the Test

  • Read each set of instructions carefully.
  • Use rough paper to work out calculations.
  • Don’t try to throw a curveball at personality test, go with your gut and think about your preferences from a work perspective.
  • Plan your time effectively – you’ll need to allocate time for each question.
  • Don’t spend too long on a question. If you don’t know the answer, just move on to the next one and come back to the one you skipped if you have time at the end.
  • Do not panic if you do not finish all the timed exercise questions – it is natural to feel under pressure and most candidates do.
  • Try to work as accurately and as quickly as you can in the time available.
  • Let the employer know if there was an issue.
  • Find out the next steps in the hiring process & who will make contact with you.

After the Test

  • Check with the test administrator or recruitment manager if you are able to receive feedback on your results and what form this will take.
  • Continue your job search!

Introduction into Assessment Centres

What is an Assessment Centre?

An assessment centre is an event held by a company to determine whether a candidate’s skills and personal attributes are a good fit for the business and role they have applied for.  They usually last for 1 full working day, but sometimes they can by 2 days long.

Before the Assessment Centre

  • Find out what to expect – what exercises will take place on the day and allocated timing for any presentations. Here’s a list of the most commonly carried out exercises:
  • Aptitude and psychometric testsare a brutal, but increasingly common form of testing. The most frequent types are numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning and logical reasoning. For some roles there will be tests that assess abstract reasoninginductive reasoning and even spatial reasoning.
  • Presentations: This exercise will assess your ability to create, display and deliver a presentation. How clearly can you communicate a message?
  • Group exercises: Here you will be assessed on your ability to interact in a group setting. These exercises are competitive and nerve-wracking. Success in group exercises is a delicate art.
  • Role-plays: You’ll be expected to play a part in an imaginary scenario that will closely reflect one which could appear in the role you have applied for.
  • In-tray exercise: This exercise is a simulation and it will be your task to act as a staff member dealing with a typical workload.
  • A technical/skills-based test, dependent on your area of expertise.
  • Interviews: You will face a series of competency-based/experience-based/skill-based and hypothetical questions to gauge your suitability for the role.
  • Gamified assessments: You’ll play a “game” that is based on robust, scientific psychometric assessments, but creates a more engaging and contemporary looking online test. Focus will be on progressing through levels, earning points, or getting badges.
  • Plan what you’ll wear – make sure you look professional. Even if the role will require you to dress casually, wear business attire to any interview or meeting with the hiring manager.  A shirt and tie or skirt and blouse and professional shoes, is best. Make sure your clothes are neat and wrinkle-free.  Be sure that your overall appearance is neat and clean.
  • Plan what you’ll bring – a notepad, pen, extra copies of your CV, qualifications, flash cards with notes for your presentation, list of referees, information you might need to complete an application ie. Driver’s license, samples of your work, if relevant.
  • Drive to the assessment centre location so that you know where you’re going the day of the interview – take note of where you’re able to park. Plan to arrive 10 minutes early.
  • Prepare for at least 3-4 of these exercises (focus your time on practicing example questions from psychometric assessments, reviewing competency-based interviewing, the presentation and another area)
  • Prepare a presentation and practice giving it to a friend, making sure to complete it within the allocated timeframe.
  • Research the company to better understand their ethos and what drives them. You’ll need to know a bit about their history and plans for the future.  If you can, speak to someone within the company to get the inside scoop.
  • Prepare some intelligent questions for the interviewer and bring them with you.
  • Know the role’s job description like the back of your hand.
  • Get enough sleep the night before the assessment centre.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast that will keep you full throughout the day and try to exercise before the event if you have time – this will help to burn off nervous energy and keep your brain functioning at full capacity.
  • Check out the website of employer you are applying for. Some organisations offer information about their assessment centres & advice on how you can best prepare.
  • Watch this short video for more tips on how to prepare for an assessment centre.

During the Assessment Centre

  • Expect your day to start with some kind of welcome talk or presentation, then the assessment exercises will begin.
  • Listen to the instructions carefully.
  • Remember that you are always being assessed – whether you’re taking part in an exercise or eating lunch with fellow candidates, you are being assessed and observed.
  • Remain polite, professional and positive at all times, not just during the exercises. Don’t ‘let your guard slip’ during breaks periods.
  • Network with other candidates, get to know them a bit and develop a sense of camaraderie.
  • When participation is required, participate, be active and vocal during question and answer sessions and during group work.
  • Make sure that you have questions for your interviewer – do not be a passive object.
  • Transition between assessments quickly, if you think you’ve performed badly, try not to dwell on it. Keep in mind employers will look at your scores from all psychometric tests, exercises and other activities you were required to carry out.
  • Cover information not discussed or clarify a previous topic — do not ask for information that can be found on the organisation’s website.
  • Find out the next steps in the hiring process & who will make contact with you.

After the Assessment Centre

  • Follow up with an email to the hiring manager. Keep it succinct, thank them for the opportunity to take part in the assessment centre, supply any additional information and ask if you are able to receive feedback on your results and what form this will take.
  • Connect with the hiring manager or interviewer on LinkedIn
  • Alert your references that they might receive a call or email and summarise the job in bullet points for them – add in any points you want them to stress.
  • Continue your job search!