Psychometric testing is often used by employers as part of the application process so it is important to be aware of what it involves and how to prepare for the various types of tests.

Psychometric tests aim to objectively measure attributes like intelligence, aptitude and personality. They are often used by employers as part of the selection process for graduate programs to assess whether your abilities and personality meet the requirements of the position, and to determine if you will be a good ‘fit’ for the organisation.

The tests comprise a series of multiple choice questions administered online or using paper-and-pencil. You may be asked to complete them at home or at a central location; they may also constitute one of the activities at an assessment centre.

It is a good idea to do some practice tests similar to the ones you are likely to be asked to complete (if possible, try and find out from the employer the types of tests you will be asked to do). There are a number of online resources available to help you become familiar with various types of tests.

Psychometric tests are generally used after the first screening (i.e. after a recruiter has looked at your application). They are usually one of a variety of assessment methods and may be done at different stages of the selection process. For instance, testing may be done online after submission of your online application or you may be asked to do some tests as part of the activities at an assessment centre.

Types of tests

Different types of psychometric tests may be used in the selection process. Each has their own purpose and you may be asked to complete more than one.

Ability or aptitude tests

These tests measure intellectual abilities as well as your potential to learn and understand new information in a limited time frame. They may measure your numeric, verbal, spatial or problem solving abilities.

Aptitude and ability tests have ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ answers. The tests are usually timed so you need to work quickly and accurately. If you are having trouble with one question, move on to the next and return it later if you have time.

Personality inventories

Personality inventories may be used to evaluate your personality, motivation, values and/or interests. They can provide a useful insight into your behavioural style and preferences, and how you perceive yourself.

Personality inventories have no right or wrong answers. They are usually untimed and often have lie detectors built into them to detect socially desirable responses. It is best to answer honestly and to not think too much about your answers when completing them.

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