A psychometric test is used to measure your capacities and qualities during the application process. In the past, only large companies used a psychometric test. Nowadays you can almost always expect a psychometric test. A psychometric test consists of: aptitude test, personality test, interview and a role play / practical simulation.
The assessment center method, a name used for psychometric testing, is used in job applications. The assessment often takes one or more days. In some cases you can make a number of parts at home. Then, for example, you take the aptitude test and the personality test at home. If these scores are good, you can continue to the interview, role play and a practical simulation.
Psychometric test in four steps:
The aptitude test, also called an intelligence test, is often the first part of the assessment. In that case you have to make a number of questions and if your score is high enough, continue.
You have to fill in a questionnaire that shows your personality. Enter this honestly. After all, an employer wants to build a good team with different personalities.
The interview elaborates on your personality and motivation for a position. That interview is often conducted by a psychologist but also by HR employees or managers.
Role play / practical simulation
The role play or the practical simulation examines how you react in a situation that you may encounter in the workplace. You are therefore confronted with unexpected situations.
The aptitude test is an important part of the psychometric test, or assessment center method. The aptitude test consists of several categories:
Abstract or logical reasoning
With abstract or logical reasoning you will be shown a sequence of figures. These figures are often abstract: squares, circles or triangles. The size, shape, colour, and border of these figures may differ in the sequence. It is then up to you to determine which figure logically follows the given sequence.
Numerical reasoning is an often used part of aptitude tests. There are several forms of numerical reasoning, for instance: basic numeracy, word problems, and tables and graphs. In each case you will need to perform calculations quickly, often without a calculator, to determine the right answer. Tables and graphs also contain data sufficiency tests: you will need to determine if the calculations can be performed.
An important part of your career is communicating with colleagues and customers. You will also need to be able to interpret verbal information correctly. Hence, verbal reasoning is an important part of aptitude tests. Verbal reasoning has several categories, for instance: analogies, syllogisms and reading comprehension.
The personality questionnaire is an important part of every psychometric testing procedure. Most test publishers have developed their own personality test. However, most of these tests are based on the same tests.
Big five personality test
The big five personality test, also known as the five-factor model or OCEAN model is a taxonomy for personality traits. Based on statistical data this model uses five terms to describe personalities:
- Openness to experience.
The DISC assessment is based on the DISC theory by William Moulton Marston and then developed into a behavioral assessment tool by Walter Vernon Clarke. The DISC assessment uses four dimensions to assess a candidate:
Myers-Brigss Type Indicator (MBTI)
The MBTI was developed by Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers based on the work of Carl Jung. In this theory, there are four categories, leading to 16 total unique personality types. The four categories are:
- Introversion versus extraversion.
- Sensing versus intuition.
- Thinkgin versus feeling.
- Judging versus perception.
You will find that most publishers use one of the above or a version of one of the above. In general, you are best off answering a personality questionnaire truthfully. By lying you may end up in a work environment unsuited to you.
The (assessment) interview
The assessment interview, as part of the psychometric testing procedure, focuses more on you as a person. It has a lot of overlap with a normal job interview. But the assessment interview will focus on your personality, ambition, motivation, competences, hobbies, and interests. Because of this, the interview will often be conducted by a psychologist working for the test publisher. But it may also be conducted by an HR employee, managerial level or even partner or director.
Based on your personality questionnaire you can expect several questions. Make sure to answer the questionnaire truthfully because a psychologist will most likely see through your exaggerations or even lies.
Ambition & motivation
Based on your CV and cover letter you can expect several questions about your ambition and motivation. What would you like to achieve at the company you are applying to? Where do you see yourself in five years? Make sure you know your CV and cover letter and prepare answers for expected questions.
What are your strengths and weaknesses? Make sure you have an example of both. Do not be afraid to name a weakness. But, try to explain a weakness you have and how you manage to overcome that weakness. For instance: I am easily distracted. That is why I like to work with my headphones on so I get less distracted. Or I ask my colleagues to not disturb me by putting up a note.
Hobbies and interests
It is always nice to talk about your hobbies and interests. Try to have hobbies not everyone has and give examples. For instance, if you like to go out: I like craft beers and try to taste and learn about them. As of now, I am really into Belgian beers and I like … Also, do not be afraid to name (maybe) strange hobbies. Do not forget the interviewer often has these talks every day. He will most likely remember the candidate that built a 20 feet Eiffel Tower from matches than someone that likes to work out.
Role play / practical simulation
During the role-play or practical simulation you will be faced with a real-life example of a known problem or situation of the company. It is important to take the simulation seriously. Always try to include other candidates or actors in your thought process. It is often not about the right answer, because you can make mistakes, but if you can come to a logical conclusion that is good as well. There are several common types of role-playing.
A common problem will occur and you will have to solve this problem. For instance, a customer likes to return a product after the return policy date. It is not about the “right” answer. It is about finding a solution that you support. For instance, someone might have missed the return date because of an accident. You can then decide to still accept the return. Make sure you mention your considerations and why you decide to still allow or not allow the return.
Intray / etray exercise
In this case, you will have returned after a long vacation and find a large amount of mail or email. You then have a set amount of time to handle the mail. Often, candidates will start from the top and will only be able to address 10% of the mail. This is wrong. You will have to make choices and determine what to do with the most important emails: forward to a senior, delegate to a colleague, reply yourself. Each exercise is different, so make sure you know what your possibilities are and try to use the right ones.
Why are psychometric tests used?
Psychometric testing is used to determine the capabilities of a candidate for a job function. Because psychometric testing consists of four categories: aptitude test, personality questionnaire, interview and role-playing a complete profile of you can be made. Based on this profile the company you are applying to will determine if you are a fit for the job function.
There are several reasons psychometric tests, and in particular aptitude tests are used:
- Relatively cheap.
- Objective and anonymous.
- Proven indicators for a successful career.
Instead of having to interview several hundred or maybe even thousands of candidates companies now use aptitude tests to quickly separate the good from the bad. Because of the use of norm groups, companies can use the aptitude test to quickly dismiss 50% of the candidates. This saves them a lot of money.
Objective and anonymous
Since everyone has to take the same test, the score is set objectively. Also, interview bias is lessened by using online tests. Even after extensive training and years of experience HR employees may still be biased when choosing a new employee. Companies often end up employing similar people.
Proven indicators of a successful career
If you have a high score on your aptitude test, there is a good chance you will be successful in your career. However, this is a case of correlation and not causation. Research shows that directors and managerial level employees often scored high on their tests. This does not, of course, mean that scoring high on your test ensures you will be a director or manager at the company you apply for.
How to prepare for a psychometric test
To get your dream job, it is important to prepare for your psychometric test. As you now know, the psychometric testing procedure consists of four parts: aptitude test, personality questionnaire, interview, and practical simulation.
Prepare for an aptitude test
Make sure you know which aptitude test is used by your future employer. Knowing which test you have to take, makes all the difference. You can then prepare for the right questions. This saves a lot of time and your score will be higher.
Aptitude tests use a norm group. In most cases, you need to beat at least 50% of the norm group to pass the aptitude test. By practicing you will have a higher chance of beating 50% than you have without practicing.
The first step to finding out which aptitude test is used by your employer is by checking your invitation. Usually, you will find the name of the test publisher or the name of the test written out. If not, try our company overview to see if we know which test you can expect.
If the test publisher or test name is not mentioned you will often see the names of the various topics in the test. For example analogies, numerical reasoning, and inductive reasoning. You will then have to prepare broadly for these topics.
Prepare for a personality questionnaire
Always try to be honest about your personality questionnaire. You will probably not gain anything by lying on your questionnaire. If you claim to be an extrovert that likes to work with people you might be placed in a similar team, personality-wise. That might lead to a lot of unhappiness later on in your career.
Also, remember that large companies like to have a diverse workforce. They are not looking for ten extrovert leaders. They are looking for a team that has different people, so everyone brings something to the table. For some jobs, they might be looking for different personalities as well. Therefore, always be honest.
You can, however, prepare for personality questionnaires by reading up on them. Look at the website of the test publisher to see what you can learn about their personality test. Maybe you can take a practice test. This way you will get a feel of the type of questions and design of the test. That way you are less likely to make mistakes.
Also, remember that it is okay to give “extreme” answers. If you have to use a scale from one to five to answer questions about yourself, do not be afraid to enter a one or five. All too often, people fill out nothing but threes and fours. Effectively saying nothing about themselves. If you really are dependable or trustworthy, let it show.
Prepare for an interview
If you have the results from your personality questionnaire compare them to your cover letter and CV. Are there any obvious questions? For instance, if you claim to be open to other cultures, does the CV show you have been abroad? Or if you claim to be precise, are there any spelling mistakes on your CV?
It might be helpful to ask a friend, parent or sibling to help you prepare. Let them look at your CV, cover letter and questionnaire and let them ask questions. It might seem a bit uncomfortable but you will quickly find questions that might arise during the interview.
Prepare for a practical simulation
If you are invited to an assessment day you will have a role play / practical simulation. Always try and ask the recruiter or HR employee if they can tell you anything about this assignment. This will help you prepare.
If you do not know which sort of role play you can expect, try to prepare broadly. There is a large number of practical simulations possible:
- Management conversation: firing someone, yearly review, budget meeting.
- Customer conversation: angry customer, frequent customer, known problems.
- Presentation: yearly report, new concept, idea pitch.
- Fact-finding: solve a problem based on limited data.
- Intray exercise: email, physical mail.
- Group assignment: budget allocation, presentation.
Who are we
Our aim is to help you get your dream job. Aptitude tests are used by most employers nowadays and are a major hurdle to candidates. As many as 50% of the candidates do not pass their aptitude test. We find this unfair.
By preparing for your aptitude test you can easily pass the test. You are not cheating, you are getting prepared. If you have never solved number sequences or never even seen a figure sequence you will not get a high score on your test. You may even fail. By practicing, you will be familiar with such types of questions. Now, you can actually take the test.