How Do You Prepare for a Psychometric Test?
21th May 2022
The good news is that, in most cases, there is not a great deal of preparation required to do most psychometric tests. It is a very different experience to doing most kinds of exam or even a driving test, where what is being tested is knowledge or experience that you have learned or picked up over a period of time. This knowledge or experience is sometimes called ‘attainment’ but most psychometric tests of ability are looking to pick up on ‘aptitude’(s), skill in areas which come naturally to you without particular practice or learning. Are you naturally good at calculations or understanding mechanical principles? Are you comfortable working with written information or using symbols to code for steps in a process?
Many tests, certainly those supplied by eras, will give you a few practice questions first, before you start the timed test itself. These are to give you an idea of what to expect. Furthermore, a potential employer might send out some practice questions in advance of you sitting down to do the test proper.
The main thing which can unsettle candidates is that psychometric tests are almost always timed, so they are up against the clock. The best way to prepare, therefore, is to introduce a timed element to any practice you choose to do. There are actually many internet sites designed specifically to help candidates ‘get a feel’ for doing tests and many of these have a way of timing you while you practice built in. Just Google ‘Practice Ability/Aptitude Tests’ and you’ll see how much is out there. If the site does not feature a timed element, try timing yourself with a stopwatch. Ultimately, if timing is not introduced, more candidates get more of the questions right, so it is harder for potential employers to find differences in their performance. That’s why timing is so integral to the testing process. It also introduces a key aspect of standardisation so that all candidates are tested fairly under the same conditions.
Many forms of psychometric assessments are not ‘tests’ in the sense of having right or wrong answers, but personality questionnaires such as The Quest Profiler. Here, no practice is required at all. The questionnaire wants to explore how you typically behave at work, so simply answer honestly and instinctively. Don’t ‘over-think’ your responses or you’ll end up not giving a realistic account of the behaviour which comes to you most naturally. Personality questionnaires are not timed, but don’t spend too long over them – by going more quicky, you often give a more realistic account of yourself.
Many personality questionnaires ask you to choose between competing options (Would you rather do this or this? Which of the following applies to you most – and least?). This can be frustrating, and you sometimes feel that you’d like to agree with or reject all the options given. The reason such questionnaires adopt this technique is to ‘tease out’ what is really important about how you behave, putting the things that characterise you most ‘to the front of the queue’ and pushing less important things further back. As long as you answer honestly and instinctively, you should be fine.
In fact, that’s the main message about being on the receiving end of psychometric tests and questionnaires: there are no obvious ‘hacks’ or ‘cheats’ – just give an honest and instinctive account of yourself. After all, who would want to do a job that made them stressed or uncomfortable because they couldn’t behave the way they liked to, or lacked the skills to cope with the job’s demands? In the end, it’s in everyone’s interest (employer and employee) that someone is well matched to the job they do. Psychometric assessment is just a way of helping to make that happen.