Getting to grips with psychometric tests

Getting to grips with psychometric tests

18th October 2016

Author: Lewis Prescott


Many companies and organisations now use psychometric tests as part of the recruitment process. Lewis Prescott explains what they are, what to expect and ways to prepare.

Purpose of psychometric tests

Psychometric tests are designed to give an overall picture of how you may be suited to a particular job or working environment. They can help identify character traits such as laziness that may not be revealed during an interview.

Test results are often considered alongside your performance in other areas, and form part of the selection process.

Test types

There are two main types of psychometric tests: aptitude tests, which measure skills and ability; and personality assessments, which examine behaviour. Both types of test show how you are likely to act in different situations, rather than simply assessing your intelligence.

Aptitude tests are often split into three categories:

  • verbal reasoning – your ability to work with written information
  • numerical reasoning – your ability to work with numbers and graphs and
  • diagrammatic reasoning – your ability to work with abstract information, such as diagrams and flowcharts


Personality assessments identify aspects of your character, and may score you against certain traits such as inventiveness, efficiency and confidence.

What to expect

Most psychometric tests ask how you would behave in certain situations. For example, you may be presented with the following statement about a working scenario:

“You keep working at a task until it has been completed, even when other people have given up.”

You could then be asked to rate the response on a scale of 1 to 5, ranging from “most like me,” to “least like me.”

Be yourself

Psychometric tests are designed to detect when candidates are answering questions untruthfully and often there is no right or wrong answer. Try not to second guess what personality traits an employer is looking for – choose answers that best reflect you, rather than what you think you should answer.


Make sure you are aware of the time scale to complete the test, focus and remove all distractions. Tests are typically done on a computer, and the clock will not start until you click ‘take test,’ so make sure read the instructions thoroughly first. You may get penalised for incorrect answers in some types of test, so ensure you understand the question rather than rushing through to finish quickly.

Lewis Prescott works for Skillsarena, who help both candidates and businesses with employment testing through a range of tools and skills testing resources.

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