Psychometric testing

Employers are using psychometric tests more frequently to assess candidates’ abilities and aptitudes in certain areas. The results are presented in a standardised way, which helps employers make accurate and objective comparisons between you and other candidates.

What are tests looking for?

Tests vary from one company to another and will usually be carefully constructed to test skills that are relevant to a particular job or working environment. They might assess one or more of the following:

  • numeracy
  • verbal reasoning
  • spatial or diagrammatic reasoning
  • logic
  • literacy

Many tests will include a selection of maths, English language and logic exercises to test your ability to work quickly and accurately.

Psychometric tests are often used in conjunction with other selection methods and it is your overall performance that matters. Many employers use online psychometric tests both prior to and at an assessment centre, as part of a range of selection activities.

How do they work?

Tests can be computer or paper based. You might sit them individually or in a group. You might also work one to one with a trained administrator.

Questions are often multiple choice, with definite right and wrong answers. They may also get more difficult as the test progresses. Tests are strictly timed and there may be more questions than you can comfortably answer in the time available. Manage your time well, answering as many questions as possible without sacrificing accuracy. Negative marking, where incorrect answers are deducted from your total of correct answers, is uncommon. But pay attention to all instructions so that you are clear on how the test will be marked.

There is usually no pass or fail mark as such, but selectors will have in mind a norm for the type of candidate (eg student or graduate) or job. Your mark will be assessed in relation to this norm.

Sitting some practice tests will help you to feel more comfortable with the real process. There are links to resources below and in the Find out more pages, but your careers service will also be able to help. Some employers will send out some sample questions before your interview.

Download this document to find out more about Careers & Employability’s Practice Tests:

Psychometric Test Practice

Revision can help your confidence in dealing with questions and your speed in tackling them. In particular you might need to revise some basic mathematics, particularly if you have not recently studied a numerical subject. Practise general arithmetic and calculating percentages and ratios, as well as reading charts and graphs.

Tips

  • Practise online.  Careers & Employability has a typical test battery, available free of charge
  • Use the range of sample test books available in Careers & Employability.
  • Read or listen to instructions and questions carefully.
  • Keep an eye on the time, allowing for questions to get harder as the test progresses.
  • Use a simple and reliable calculator, if allowed.
  • Try eliminating wrong answers if you are having difficulty finding the right one.
  • Don’t spend too long on any one question. If you’re stuck, move on and return to the question later if you have time.
  • Don’t worry if you don’t answer all the questions.

If you have a disability and may need additional support or extra time to sit a psychometric test, let the employer know as soon as possible. Employers will then be able to make suitable arrangements in advance to ensure that you have a fair chance to perform well in the test.