This topic has been written in conjunction with a psychometric specialist in the recruitment field so we hope there are some invaluable and helpful insights for you.
The words ‘psychometric or personality tests’ scares most people, from Graduates to skilled workers.
Remember they have not been designed to set you up to fail! They have been designed to ensure you are the right cultural and personality fit for the organisation and/or possess the cognitive, numeric, abstract, verbal or situational skills the company is looking for.
As with any kind of test (also known as assessments), you can improve your performance by knowing what to expect and by practicing. As long as you’ve done preparation beforehand, you can approach psychometric tests confident in the knowledge that you’re as well placed to succeed as anyone else.
Psychometric tests are standardised and employers integrate them into a recruitment process as a fair and non-biased way to compare the strengths (and development points) of the candidates. In graduate recruitment processes, you often find them towards the start of the process to help quickly and effectively reduce a high volume of applicants. There is nothing wrong with this approach and is quite common. On average you may be asked to complete 2 different tests/ assessments, sometimes it’s just 1 or sometimes 3 or 4.
Below we are going to highlight 4 different types of tests that you may be asked to complete. Please note this list is a selection of the typical tests that are used in Graduate recruitment, however depending on the company or country, this may vary.
- Aptitude/ Ability tests
- Situational Judgement tests
- Personality test
- Motivational test
Aptitude/ Ability tests
Used to measure mental reasoning ability and an excellent predictor of future work performance. These tests are usually in the form of verbal, numeric, abstract, comprehension, or spatial reasoning.
Aptitude/ Ability tests are usually timed and often more questions than you can answer in the allocated time. Most involve multiple-choice or true/false answers.
The results compare your ability levels to a ‘norm’ group chosen by the employer or test provider (this could be the results of a group of previously successful applicants, people typical of your level of education, or the general public). You MUST take this stage really seriously, as you won’t get another go just because you felt you weren’t happy with the outcome, the amount of times we have seen this request is too many to mention, needless to say, you only get 1 chance, so make the most of it.
Situational judgement tests (SJT)
SJT assess candidates’ natural responses to given situations and allows employers to see the way you may behave in the workplace.
You will be presented with realistic scenarios and have to identify or rank the answers as you feel suitable. These tests are typically self-reflective and allows graduates to evaluate themselves, therefore you need to be honest in your answers and to yourself.
Before answering a question, ensure you understand the scenario properly and only use the information given.
Unlike aptitude tests, the outcome is not based on norms and measures suitability rather than ability. Therefore if you don’t get through this stage it may be because the employer does not feel that you are a good match for the company in a cultural or values based way.
Personality tests examine how likely you are to fit into the role and company culture based on how you would respond in various situations. It reveals aspects of your character and therefore allows potential employers to match this up with required characteristics for particular jobs/ companies.
Don’t try and presume what an employer wants to see /how they expect you to answer as you may have this very wrong. Just be yourself and be consistent in your approach. Consistency is assessed during most personality tests.
Behavioural tests allow employers to get an insight into an individual’s strengths, weaknesses, motivators, attitudes, learning ability and communication style. The test will comprise of questions that see how you will interact with others, how you approach problems and respond to processes and rules.
There are no right or wrong answers in the assessment and similar to personality tests is used by employers to gain an insight into whether you represent the right behavioural profile for the job and for the company.
Don’t test well? Then practice! There are multiple test providers that companies use and there are also multiple sites for you to undertake practice tests prior, I recommend doing at least 2 if you are confident and a few more if you are not.
Practice psychometric tests sites:
Practice personality test sites:
Wear a watch so you can keep track of the time if there is no clock in the room.
If you have a disability that may affect your performance, contact the recruitment team before the test day. Giving the recruiters sufficient notice will enable them to make appropriate arrangements for you.
Listen to instructions and follow them carefully. Make the most of the practice questions at the start as every test is different, this will allow you to see the layout, structure and wording.
Find a quiet, comfortable place away from possible interruptions, this includes putting your phone on silent- every second counts. You can’t start the test, then stop and come back to it later. It’s also important to have a reliable internet connection so it doesn’t drop out.
Do your best with every question, but it’s important to be aware of the time you have remaining. Don’t let yourself blindly click your way through the questions in a mad frenzy, just to have an answer for everything.
Stay calm and don’t let yourself stress out too much or over think the assessment, this will only hinder you to think clearly.
Be yourself and answer honestly. Don’t answer accordingly to what you think the assessor wants to hear, as that is impossible to work out.
PRACTICE, PREP and PREP!
UC GRAD RECRUITER