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Psychometric Testing: What is it and do you really need it?

Guy Thornton December 01, 2018

The word ‘test’ way strike fear into the hearts of many people, but they are part of life. The reason for this? Tests are a great way to evaluate certain things about a person, from how much they know about a certain subject to their general aptitude.

You have probably given tests to your job applicants or even taken a few yourself. You may have heard the term ‘psychometric test’ being batted around, but do you really know what one is? And do you really need to use them when it comes to expanding your talent pool? We will reveal all.

The Psychometric Umbrella

Contrary to popular belief, there is no single psychometric test. Instead, the term is used to describe lots of different tests, all focusing on different candidate skills. Which tests are administered will depend on the candidate skills most required for a specific role. However, many HR departments and recruitment agencies require their candidates to take tests in the three main subcategories under the psychometric umbrella. These are: - Behavioural

  • Aptitude
  • Assessment

Let’s find out more about each of these areas and what they mean for potential candidates.

Behavioural Testing

Are you assertive? Outgoing? Confident? Or are you non-confrontational, quiet or anxious? It is no surprise that some behavioural traits match certain job roles better than others. Behavioural tests are personality tests and situational judgement exams that assess aspects of an applicant’s behaviour. The most common is the personality test, that helps you see what a candidate’s true personality is beyond what they choose to show you at interview. The other main behavioural test is a situational judgement exam. Although some of the questions may seem similar to those used during interview, the exam provides further insight into how the candidate might respond during different scenarios in the workplace. Do they thrive under pressure? How do they deal with confrontation? This test can tell you what you may be able to expect from this candidate if they join your organization.

Aptitude Testing

Aptitude testing can also be used to see how a candidate might respond in an unfamiliar situation, which they do by assessing logical reasoning or thinking performance. They usually consist of multiple choice questions and tend to include verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning tests.

Assessment Centre Exercises

Although it is important to know how a candidate may react independently in the workplace, it is just as crucial to see how well they interact with others. These tests usually occur last in any series of testing and take place at an assessment centre however, the exact format of the exercises will depend on the employer and what they need to see from their potential talent. Most assessment centre exercises last all day and can include: - Case studies

  • Interviews
  • Group activities
  • Presentations
  • In-tray exercises

Potential candidates are scrutinised on how they respond in the imitation work environment, and assessors can determine why the candidates responded in the manner that they did.

The value of Psychometric Testing

So, why is psychometric testing so valuable to employers? 1. True response can only be measured under pressureIn business, time is money. The workplace should be a high-productivity low-waste machine, and this means that employees need to make fast, efficient responses to situations, and often this happens under some degree of pressure. Aptitude tests and assessment day exercises apply time constraints to potential candidates, and this is the closest you will be able to come to seeing how they truly perform when the pressure is on. 2. Assess response consistencyIn contrast, behavioural tests are untimed and designed specifically so that the candidate has time to think about their responses before they answer. However, behavioural rests often contain quite repetitive questions. This puts candidates under a different type of pressure and allows assessors to measure response consistency. 3. Tailorable to your businessOne of the greatest benefits of psychometric tests is that they can be designed to suit the requirements of your business. This means that you can be sure that you will get the candidates that best fit the skills and behaviours required by your organisation. No two aptitude tests are the same, which means that candidates are kept firmly on their toes. 4. Formats may differ, but the exam remains the sameHow any test is administered depends on the assessment company used by the employer. Nevertheless, any HR department or employment agency should remember that just because you may have administered dozens of psychometric tests before, each one should be treated as if it is your first.

Guy Thornton December 01, 2018

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