What is psychometric testing?

Is there a scarier-sounding phrase? Whilst it might sound like you’re about to be attached to some kind of mind-reading device, the reality is far less horrifying. Psychometric testing is simply a series of relatively straightforward questions or tasks, designed to test your suitability for a particular job. If you perform well in the test, the chances are you’ll perform well in your new position.

What does psychometric testing do?

The questions test your numerical skills, your ability to think logically, your spatial reasoning, or they might even test how well you interact with other people. Some questions might not focus on your skills and abilities at all, but are designed to figure out whether you’re a good ‘culture fit’ for the organisation you’re applying to work for; will you get along with the other staff? Will you be a positive influence on your colleagues? Other tests might be tailored to the specific role, for instance, if you’re applying to work as a proofreader, you might be asked to find the hidden mistakes in a piece of copy.

When is this type of testing used?

These tests might be used by your potential employer, or by a recruitment company. Some employers will ask recruitment companies to complete these tests for them beforehand so that they can study a candidate's results at the same time as their CV and cover letter. They might be used to screen candidates for positions that have received a large number of applications, to help in the selection process.

Sometimes, psychometric tests are used early on in the recruitment process. For instance, accountancy firms might give numerical and logical reasoning tests to a large number of applicants, as a way of beginning to find out who’s more suitable (and some people will be put off by the test alone!) In other cases, psychometric testing might come much later in the recruitment process. For instance, if you’re applying for a job as a journalist, you might have a face-to-face interview. Then, if you make it through to the next round, you'll be asked to complete tests that will compare your written skills against those of the other candidates.

Does psychometric testing work?

Remember, psychometric testing isn’t designed to measure a person’s intelligence. You might be a fantastic critical thinker, but terrible at diagrammatic reasoning. All this means is that you have stronger skills in some areas than others. You also might not perform well at psychometrics if you feel nervous or stressed, which is understandable, especially if you’re being timed!

Having said this, one huge advantage of psychometric testing is that it's specifically designed to be objective, unlike a physical interview, where unconscious bias might come into play. Research indicates that psychometric testing is a very accurate tool in predicting how well a candidate will perform in a particular position. So, many employers prefer it, as there’s no way for the results to be exaggerated or manipulated.

How can I prepare?

First, try to find out which type of testing is normally required for the profession you’re trying to enter. For instance, if you’re applying for an engineering position, it’s likely you’ll be asked to complete diagrammatic or spatial reasoning tests. If you’re applying for accountancy positions, you’ll probably be asked to complete numerical reasoning or error-checking tests.

Once you’ve identified the type of testing you’ll be completing, the next thing you need to do is practice. Psychometric tests have a very specific type of logic to them that you'll get better at the more questions you complete. You can also find plenty of example questions online to get stuck into.

You can familiarise yourself with the most common types of psychometric tests and have a go at some practice questions when you enrol on our Job Ready Pack.

How can Oxbridge help me prepare for work?

When a student completes a course with us, we want to make sure they are primed and ready for post-completion. Whether you want to progress onto university with our #UniReady pack or land a position in the perfect role, our FREE BeReady courses will equip you with all the essential advice and knowledge you need to feel prepared for those all-important next steps. Specifically, our #JobReady pack covers topics such as CV writing, interview skills, goal planning and dealing with redundancies. Enrol for free today.