Introduction to Psychometric Testing

accounting tests headerWhat 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 or industry-specific tests like chartered accountant or bookkeeper test.

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 field and therefore can include assessments on clerical skills, computer programming or a range of software products like Microsoft Office.

Situational Judgement Tests: In a SJT you will typically be presented with a realistic workplace scenario and asked to respond to it. This scenario may be presented to you in writing, as an animation or even as a film clip.  Typically you will be given a number of different potential courses of action and asked to identify what is, and what is not, appropriate.  Have a look at the following four example situational judgement test questions and answers.

What You Need To Know Before Your 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.

Employers and Recruiters are required to provide you with example/sample questions to try ahead of the event and if they aren’t forthcoming in sharing this information with you, you should politely insist on being able to do so.  Be aware, you might be sidestepped by busy recruitment consultants or people who simply don’t know which direction to guide you, nevertheless, persist in getting an accurate test name and sample information.  Trialing the actual tests is critical to your success.  Simply going online and googling any old ability test, will likely result in you wasting your time getting prepared for the wrong type of test.

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 useful testing websites worth checking out:

Practice Aptitude Tests – a website where job applicants and graduates can take free practice tests or purchase tests.

Institute of Psychometric Coaching – provides an introduction to psychometric tests and offers free samples for practice.

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.

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. – offers a comprehensive set of Accounting and Bookkeeper related assessments and sample questions. – 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, you need to be candid and honest when you’re completing these and think about your preferences from a work perspective.  Most personality tests will pick up on candidates who respond in an overly positive or overly negative manner, which has flow-on effects to the application, future interviews and even development planning.  Basically, you don’t want to harm your application or be seen as evasive and dishonest from the beginning, so it’s best to answer personality questions as honestly as you can.
  • 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.
  • Try to work as quickly and accurately as you can in the time you have available, finishing the test in it’s entirety isn’t everything.  Remember, you can skip questions and return to them later if time allows, but best to note the question numbers skipped so you can quickly return to them if time allows.
  • Do not panic if you do not finish all the timed exercise questions – it is natural to feel under pressure and most candidates do.
  • 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 hiring manager if you are able to receive feedback on your results and what form this will take.
  • Continue your job search!