What is a psychometric test, and how do you practise (with examples)?
There’s no need to worry about psychometric tests.
Last updated: 24 May 2023
What you’ll learn:
- What is a psychometric test?
- Why do employers use psychometric tests?
- How to practise for a psychometric test
- Examples of psychometric test questions
Applying for a job in New Zealand can feel like a long process. From searching for roles, to writing your CV and cover letter to attending interviews, you’ll probably feel pretty tired by the end of it.
And, just as you’re getting to the end of it, you’re hit with the psychometric test. These two words have the ability to strike fear into many of us, often because we don’t know what they are, and what will be involved.
To show you that psychometric tests are nothing to be afraid of, here, we’ll break down what they are, and how you can prepare for them.
What is a psychometric test?
Psychometric tests are tests designed by psychologists, and are often used to help determine whether a job applicant is a suitable personality and intellectual fit for a role.
Typically, the type of psychometric test you might face as part of a job application will be multiple choice, and could consist of aptitude questions and/or personality questionnaires. Aptitude questions could involve identifying the next shape in a pattern, while a personality question might be along the lines of ‘I have trouble standing up for myself’, and ask you to rank how true this is for you from one to five.
Psychometric tests are what’s known as standardised tests, in that the questions you’re asked, and the way that they’re scored, is the same for everyone. For example, this means that the personality questions you’re asked will have nothing to do with how you’ve come across during an interview, and will likely be the same for all applicants going for the role.
Psychometric tests help emplolyers decide whether a job applicant is a suitable personality and intellectual fit for a role.
Why do employers use psychometric tests
Every stage of your job application offers an opportunity for the hiring manager or recruiter to evaluate how well suited you are to the job they’re advertising, and a psychometric test is just part of this. Specifically, because psychometric tests are scored, it gives them some tangible data to include in their decision-making process.
For example, being good at non-verbal reasoning (a type of aptitude question) can demonstrate to an employer that you’re good at thinking on your feet and making decisions quickly. It also shows an ability to think logically, and is particularly valued in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) fields.
The personality question side of psychometric tests allow the hiring manager to assess how well they think you’ll fit into the culture. Unlike the aptitude side of the test, there’s no correct answer to these questions, but, of course, if you were coming across as someone with little regard for those working around you, it might ring alarm bells for your potential employer.
Example psychometric questions
For this side of the test, you might be asked to rank, on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree), 2 (somewhat disagree), 3 (neutral), 4 (somewhat agree), 5 (strongly agree) how well the following match your personality/working style:
- I enjoy working with others to complete tasks
- I am comfortable providing constructive criticism to colleagues
- I take constructive criticism well
- I panic when things don’t go to plan
- I find it difficult to talk to large groups of people
- I enjoy brainstorming sessions
- I am comfortable talking to strangers
- I am confident when faced with a new or unfamiliar task
- I often get upset when someone questions how I approach my work
- I get frustrated when others aren’t pulling their weight
- I like to take the lead on projects
These will vary more depending on the type of role you’re applying for, but generally fall into a number of categories:
- Numerical reasoning: this might involve being presented with a graph and having to interpret it in your answer.
- Non-verbal/abstract reasoning: this could involve a series of changing shapes or patterns, where you need to identify the next in the sequence.
- Verbal reasoning: here, you could be presented with a short text and be required to, for example, correctly determine whether a statement about the contents of this text is true or false.
- Inductive reasoning: here you might be asked to draw a reasonable conclusion from a couple of observations. For example, you might be given a specific statement such as ‘I observed a seal eat a fish’, then a pattern statement ‘all records of seal diets include fish’ and be asked what conclusion you can draw from this. Here, a reasonable conclusion would be, ‘all seals eat fish’.
Personality based questions aim to understand what you'll be like to work with.
How to prepare for a psychometric test?
Preparing for the personality questions
These questions don’t require much preparation, as you’ll be answering honestly according to how you feel about each statement. It’s important to remember that, while you want to come across well, there’s no such thing as a perfect personality, so don’t heap too much pressure on yourself.
The best things you can do to prepare for these tests are:
- Read the company’s values beforehand if you can
- Be well rested before
- Come in with a positive attitude
- Give yourself enough time to complete the whole test
- Attempt every question
Preparing for the aptitude questions
Of course, you won’t know until the day exactly what questions you’ll face. However, the good news is that you can definitely develop your mental readiness by taking practice psychometric questions online. The types of questions asked in the aptitude side of the test often follow similar formats (e.g. finding the next shape in a pattern), and actually doing these (as long as there are also answers supplied) is always the best way to prepare.
If you’re going for a role in a STEM sector, you may want to dedicate more time to numerical and non-verbal reasoning, while someone applying to a marketing or journalism job might be more inclined to look deeper into verbal reasoning. However, our strong advice is to get used to all of the different types of questions you might face, so there are no nasty surprises on the day.
There are also more fun ways you can prepare for the aptitude test, by doing things like brainteasers, word games, crosswords and reading widely.
On the day itself, our tips for the aptitude test include:
- Reading the instructions carefully!
- Not spending too much time if you get stuck on a question.
- Attempting every question.
- If you have no idea, guess! It’s multiple choice, after all.
- Check your answers if you have time left over.
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