An introduction to psychometric testing

5 min read

A key stage of many recruitment processes, psychometric tests are used to assess some element of a candidate’s cognitive ability or personality. 

It is likely that you’ll come across psychometric testing when applying for degree apprenticeship, placement/internship and graduate opportunities, as many Gradcracker employers use this method of assessment to help select the right people for their organisation. 

Why do employers use psychometric tests?

Psychometric tests are a relatively quick and easy way to screen candidates prior to interview. They are particularly popular amongst companies that recruit large cohorts through programmes or schemes – and are on the lookout for future leaders. 

Identifying those that fit the core competencies required for the role at this early stage saves recruitment teams a lot of time – and it prevents you preparing for an interview for a job that isn't right for you. 

Psychometric tests are particularly popular because they enable employers to assess potential as well as current ability. They not only ensure you're a good fit for the company and the role, but also provide valuable insights that enable employers to predict your future behaviour and performance.

“We use psychometric testing to gauge whether you would fit into our workforce and whether you have the right mindset to succeed with us” – BOC

Employers also incorporate psychometric tests into their recruitment processes as a way of removing unconscious bias. Governed by predetermined questions and data-driven skill metrics, the tests assess candidates solely on their suitability for the role.

Psychometric tests can increase your self-awareness.

Why you should jump at the chance to complete a psychometric test 

Psychometric tests assess ability and potential, and while employers may be looking for certain competencies, the main aim is to find candidates that are a good fit. Therefore, you should see psychometric tests as an opportunity to find out whether the role is right for you – and, if it is, you can enter the next stage of the process with confidence. 

Psychometric tests also measure your natural (as opposed to learnt) behaviours because these are what we tend to revert back to under pressure. This means that, to 'succeed' in these kinds of tests, you merely have to respond naturally. Being aware of this can help reduce anxiety and should make the experience more enjoyable.

Psychometric tests are also an opportunity for you to show your strengths beyond the CV. Depending on the test format, you might be able to demonstrate your skills in action – e.g., through a games-based assessment

And finally, psychometric tests can increase self-awareness by providing valuable insights into the way you think and work. We all like to think we know ourselves quite well, but our self-perceptions are most often determined by our past experiences and social circles – which aren't always the most reliable sources of information. 

The most popular psychometric tests in recruitment have been developed by psychologists and undergo thorough analysis before being released onto the market. They compare candidates against a larger and more representative norm, meaning your results will very likely paint an accurate picture of your abilities, traits and behaviours. 

Remember to ask for your results if you aren't automatically provided with them; being aware of the way you naturally think and act will enable you to identify future opportunities that are a good match for you, and will also help you sell your strengths during interviews and assessment centres.

How can I prepare?

To start off, you might like to consult this article to learn more about some of the most common psychometric tests in graduate recruitment

Some psychometric tests require more preparation than others. Numerical and verbal reasoning tests, for example, can be particularly challenging, so it’s important that you hone your skills beforehand. Practice tests are also highly recommended for these kinds of tests; your recruiter will often supply you with a practice version, but standard practice tests are also readily available online. 

Personality and behaviour tests assess your natural responses and therefore require less preparation. That said, you should still familiarise yourself with the format of the test as this will help you perform under pressure – particularly if the test is timed. It will also help you to identify what the test is measuring and how you can best approach it. 

During the test itself, make sure you are in a quiet setting, free from distraction, where you can concentrate on the task at hand. Remember to gather any necessary equipment, such as a pencil and paper, calculator and a glass of water. You don’t want to have to leave your computer screen during the test – particularly if it is timed.

And last but by no means least, don’t try to cheat the system. It’s important to have a good idea of what the employer is looking for and what the role requires prior to submitting your initial application – otherwise you’ll waste your time applying for roles that aren’t a good fit for you. However, it’s equally important that you don’t use that information to give unauthentic responses. You want to find your ideal role, as much as the employer wants to find their ideal candidate – so try to be as true to yourself as you can be. It’s that simple!

“We want to see your true self (that is what we are assessing) so approach the tasks in a way that feels most natural to you.” – Colas Rail


     Key take-aways...

  • Psychometric tests allow companies to screen candidates during the recruitment processes.
  • There are various different types of psychometric tests, but all measure some element of cognitive ability or personality.
  • These kind of tests are used to identify people that are a good fit for the role and the organisation.
  • Use practice tests (found online) to hone your skills and/or familiarise yourself with the format of the assessment.
  • During the test itself, make sure you are in a quiet setting, free from distraction, with any necessary equipment to hand.
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5 popular psychometric tests in graduate recruitment
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