Ten ways to succeed in psychometric tests

15 Apr 2015
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Finding the right staff has always been a challenge for employers. Choosing the most highly qualified candidate is often not enough, it’s also a question of finding someone with the right temperament and qualities for the role, and one who fits in with the corporate culture – subtle factors which are hard to determine at an interview.

It’s not surprising then that psychometric tests have become a standard part of the selection process in many organisations. These tests aim to provide a more objective way to assess a candidate’s skills, aptitudes and personality traits order to choose the applicant who is the best match for the job.

If the prospect of undergoing psychometric tests sounds daunting, take heart. Bear in mind that the results are not meant to be a reflection of your value as an employee or your career potential, but rather your suitability for a particular role.

While you want to cast yourself in the best light, attempting to disguise fundamental aspect of your personality can be self-defeating as you could end up in the wrong job.

However, in terms of assessing your abilities, it is possible to improve your score through practice and preparation. Here are some tips on how to prepare for a psychometric test.

1. Try to ascertain what the company is looking for

The job description should give you an idea of the skills and qualities they require, but you can gain further insight by asking the recruiter.

2. Learn to identify the different types of questions

Examples of psychometric tests are freely available on the internet but try to choose ones with the right type of questions and at the right level for the job. Become familiar with the different formats, such as multiple choice questions on general knowledge or business subjects, non-verbal tests which use shapes and numerical tests.

3. Brush up on your maths

If you haven’t done mathematics since your school days, refresh your knowledge of concepts such as fractions, percentages and decimals. Unless you deal with figures regularly, practise using a calculator and familiarise yourself with the different functions.

4. Practise, practise, practise!

Practising tests online will help you to build confidence, develop your skills and become faster and more accurate in your responses. IQ tests, quiz questions, crosswords, Sudoku and puzzles are also useful in improving reading, comprehension and pattern recognition skills.

5. Try to beat the clock

Always use a timer and learn to gage short periods of time. Get used to answering questions in 15-20 seconds and try to speed up your response times. Tests may be deliberately designed so few people can complete them in time so don’t be discouraged, just keep trying to get faster.

6. Look out for ‘red herrings’

Psychometric tests often include trick questions to identify candidates who are inconsistent or not strictly honest. Beware of statements at one extreme or another, such as ‘I never’ or ‘I always’, and don’t be tempted to make unrealistic claims to avoid admitting weakness, for example, ‘I am never late for meetings’.

7. Aim to be relaxed and alert on the day

Stress and fatigue can affect your reaction times and reasoning and reduce your scores. Make sure you have enough rest, wear an outfit you feel comfortable in, plan the route in advance and arrive in good time.

8. Read the instructions carefully

Ensure you know what is required and how long you have to complete it. Make sure you’ve not missed any pages or sections by accident.

9. Don’t waste time on one question

Move through the test at a brisk pace and if you don’t know the answer, move on – you are likely to pick up more marks by answering the questions you do know. You can go back to it at the end. If you still don’t know, then make an educated guess.

10. Ask for feedback afterwards
Even if you are unsuccessful, the test results are a valuable opportunity to gain insight into your personality type and aptitudes. They can also reveal areas for self-improvement which you can work on to improve your results next time.

Contact the Careers and Recruitment Centre for any advice or help careers@bel.uq.edu.au