We are often asked how to prepare for psychometric tests. The answer depends on whether the individual is referring to ability/reasoning tests, situational judgment tests or personality questionnaires. “Psychometric test” is a term often applied to all these, although not all psychometric exercises are “tests”. However, it helps to understand what you are being asked to do and so read on to learn how best to prepare for psychometric tests. First let’s look at the different range of occupational psychometric exercises you might be asked to complete:
Ability and reasoning exercises
These are, indeed, tests with right and wrong answers. Examples of these tests will generally include verbal, numerical, critical thinking, abstract and diagrammatic reasoning exercises to test your ability to deal with such information. All of the reputable publishers of these exercises have sample questions available on their websites in PDF format. So you should ask the employer, or whoever is asking you to complete the exercise, for a practice paper or to let you know which tests you are being asked to complete.
These ability and reasoning exercises can be difficult if you don’t use that particular “skill” frequently. A bit like cryptic crosswords, they get easier with practice and familiarity. So do make sure you get an opportunity to try a range of different ones out. There are also sites available that offer free practice tests – a quick search will find some.
You may also benefit from getting your brain in gear for these exercises, especially if your day job doesn’t call for such skills all the time. Get into the habit of reading more, doing mental arithmetic, crosswords, puzzles and word games to sharpen your thinking and prepare your mind for the test ahead.
Situational Judgement Tests
Situational judgement tests are growing in popularity and usage. There are a number of them published and commercially available – including the Leadership Judgement Indicator – but often larger employers might produce their own bespoke exercises. Situational Judgement Tests present you with a range of “real life” scenarios, usually relevant to the type of job, or industry sector, you have applied for. Each of the scenarios offers several potential ways of dealing with the situation and you are asked to choose which you think is best (and often which is worst). For each scenario, the options provided are scored based on how suitable it would be for that situation.
There is no great advantage in practicing situational judgement tests, other than to become familiar with the format and style – although again there are examples available on line and in the links below. You need to use your judgement and experience to answer. Your responses will usually help the employer decide whether you are likely to be a good fit for the role, so it is best to answer as you would do if faced with a similar situation at work – and not try and answer what you think the company is looking for.
Finally, personality questionnaires are commonly used to help assess “how” you might do the job, rather than “if” you can do the job. They are not tests as there are no right or wrong answers. Instead they look at your likely style and preferences, what you will bring to the job that is different from another candidate.
Personality questionnaires usually ask you to rate yourself on a scale, depending on how much you agree/disagree with a statement about you, or how much you like or dislike something. Other questionnaires are more binary – asking you to indicate “yes” or “no” in response to statements and others make you choose your which statement is “most” and “least” like you – always difficult and often frustrating for people to complete.
Below is step by step guide on how to prepare for psychometric tests:
- Ask the employer/recruiter what exercises you will be doing
Make sure you know whether you will be completing ability or reasoning tests, situational judgment tests or personality questionnaires – and ask which publisher and tests you will take.
You may be asked to complete one, or more different exercises, which can require separate login details.
- Practice psychometric tests and get your brain in gear
Ask the employer/recruiter to send you practice tests or search for them online. Most publishers provide free access to sample questions on their website. There are also many online providers of sample psychometric exercises. Some links to practice psychometric tests are available at the bottom of this post.
Practice using the techniques outlined above – do crosswords, puzzles, word games and mental arithmetic to get your brain in shape.
- Make any disabilities or special requirements known
If there is any issue that might affect your performance or ability to complete the exercise then you should raise this as soon as possible with the employer or recruiter. There is usually some allowance or alternation given to support you in completing these exercises.
- Make time for completing the exercises
When it comes to completing the exercises give yourself plenty of time and find a place where you will not be disturbed. Some exercises are timed, while others are not. Try and make sure you are in the right frame of mind – not tired, rushing it between meetings or thinking of something else so as to give you the best chance of doing well, particularly if it is a test.
Many online psychometrics are best completed using a PC rather than trying to do so on a tablet or mobile. Different screen resolutions can impact on your ability to see all the information easily.
- Read the instructions
After you have logged in to the site and filled in your details you will be given the instructions you need to complete the exercise. Do read these carefully. Take note of how to answer the questions, the rating scale, whether there is a time limit and any other information the publisher provides.
- Completing the exercise
Once the test or exercise starts, it is often best to work quickly without trying to overthink your answers. If it is a personality questionnaire or situational judgment test, your first instinct is usually the best answer, choosing the option that best reflects your style/personality/behaviour etc, as requested. Try to use the full range of options in the scale (often from strongly disagree to strongly agree, for example). But do try to avoid using the “unsure” or “don’t know” option. Show your personality and likely behaviours for what they are – if you’re not a good fit for the job then it’s much better to learn that before you start work.
Ability and reasoning tests are usually timed. Work quickly but accurately. Don’t spend too long on any one question but do aim for the right answer each time.
Whatever the exercise, and no matter how difficult or frustrating it is to complete, keep calm, focused and give yourself the best chance of success.
- Don’t hit the “back” browser button
Unless there are specific instructions allowing this, don’t be tempted to go back to questions again, or look to compare previous answers. Keep focused on the page you are on – use your instinct to answers questions rather be concerned about being consistent. At worst, pressing the back button will kick you off the system and you may have to do the entire exercise again.
- Ask for feedback
You should ask for feedback on the results of any psychometric tests or exercises you complete. It is good practice for employers and recruiters to offer you feedback, but request it if not offered.
Whether you are successful in your job application or not, it is important that you take the opportunity to learn from the results and the process and use the information as part of your own development.
If you want more advice on how to prepare for psychometric tests then the following companies offer practice examples for you to try without charge:
Or contact us – we can offer impartial advice whether you have to complete them yourself or are thinking of using them in your organisation – we are licensed to use a wide range of psychometric tests, situational judgement tests and personality questionnaires.