Demystifying Psychometric Tests

When looking at the word “psychometric” you might be tempted to think that these are tests aimed to gain a metric (measurement) of whether or not you are psycho! Not so!

“Psychometrics is the field of study concerned with the theory and technique of psychological measurement, which includes the measurement of knowledge, abilities, attitudes, personality traits, and educational measurement.

The field is primarily concerned with the construction and validation of measurement instruments such as questionnaires, tests, and personality assessments.

It involves two major research tasks, namely:

  • the construction of instruments and procedures for measurement; and
  • the development and refinement of theoretical approaches to measurement.”


This article is aimed to provide you with a background to psychometric testing and how to be better prepared for what is becoming a standard step within a recruitment process.

What is the role of psychometric tests during an interview process?

Psychometric tests may be used on their own, before or at the end of an interview process.

It is a method of screening a candidate in addition to interviews, CV’s and reference checks.

Psychometric tests are also an attempt to measure whether or not you have the specific skills or the appropriate personal qualities required for that job.


Two types of tests

Psychometric tests can be broadly categorized as either:

  • Tests to assess how well you perform, aptitude tests.
  • Tests to assess why you perform or behave in the way you do, personality tests.

Aptitude tests

Aptitude tests generally require correct answers to questions.

They are timed and administered under strict examination conditions and it is normal that the test is set so that you are unlikely to finish all the tasks within the given time limit.

In many tests that you may take, the questions or tasks become more difficult so they take longer.

Aptitude tests include:

  • Ability;
  • Intelligence;
  • Performance;
  • Problem-solving;
  • Skill;
  • Specific skills relative to the job;
  • Verbal or numerical reasoning


Ways of improving test scores:

  • Practice tests
  • Try puzzle books
  • Brush up on maths, such as fractions, percentages, charts and tables.
  • Search the internet – there is a wealth of on-line and free tests available.

Personality tests

These tests are designed to give an insight into your preferred outlook, way of thinking and behavioural style.

There is no ‘right answer’

Personality tests include questions on:

  • Personality;
  • Values;
  • Interests and
  • Motivation

Advice for personality tests:

Be yourself! With personality tests, you will probably be bombarded with questions asking you the same thing in many different ways. So if you are not being entirely honest, by the time you get to question number 200, say, it becomes difficult to remember prior answers!

On the other hand, if you are not honest, your profile may end up helping you get a job for which you are not really suited or a personality report with inconsistent trends!

If in doubt, use the answer that feels most right to you! “gut feeling.”

Never try to give an answer that you think your employer is looking for!

General Points for preparing for the psychometric test

Remember that you are essentially being ‘interviewed’ by a trained psychologist. So like you would for a normal interview, you need to prepare and present yourself in a professional manner.

Apart from providing your potential employer with a report on your psychometric results, the psychologist is also making an independent assessment on you!

Below are some guidelines on preparing for a psychometric test:

  • Get directions to the assessment centre!
  • Get organized and dress smartly.
  • Relax and stay calm. Panic will not help your performance!
  • Eat a good breakfast! On average a psychometric test can last anything from 3 to 6 hours – you are going to need the fuel!
  • Plan your journey and get there on time.
  • Smile and be friendly.
  • Your professionalism is on display!

 Before the test starts:

  • Sit comfortably
  • Ask questions if necessary
  • Read and obey the instructions exactly. If it asked of you to tick boxes, tick the box and don’t cross or shade them in!
  • Don’t make assumptions. If you are not sure, ask for clarity.
  • If there are any sample or practice questions, use your opportunity to complete them and make sure you do so correctly.

Surviving the tests:

  • Work through the questions in order.
  • Check out the paper for length.
  • Pace yourself.
  • Record your answers as instructed.
  • Work quickly, but don’t rush.
  • Make sure you answer in the correct place on the answer sheet.
  • Don’t agonise over a question that you cannot do, but on to the next question.
  • Don’t waste time double checking easy questions.
  • Keep track of time.
  • Ignore other people.
  • Take deep breaths and look up.

Getting feedback

You should always be offered feedback on the results of your test from the assessment centre.

This is usually available two to five days after you have completed the tests.

Remember that you will not be provided with the full report that was sent to the potential employer, but the psychologist will take you through the overall results and let you know where did well and which sections you struggled in.

The feedback will help you to prepare for any future psychometric tests that you may have to attend.


In conclusion:

Psychometric testing, like the interview, is a process to get to know you better, performed by qualified psychologists who provide an independent viewpoint to the employer.

So instead of fearing psychometric testing, view this process as another way for you to understand yourself to allow you to grow your skills and capabilities.