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Psychometric and online tests

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Psychometric testing has been used by employers for many years. They assess your abilities in a multitude of ways, from practical skills and competencies such as verbal and numerical reasoning, to technical tests, as well as assessments that reveal the characteristics of your personality, your emotional intelligence, strengths, weaknesses and working style. Testing has become more popular, with many large companies such as KPMG, Microsoft and Barclays using this practice when recruiting.

Nowadays, the majority of these tests are done online, which can be useful for many reasons, for example:

  • The tests can be adapted and / or made bespoke to the specific employer’s requirements.
  • The online tests don’t have to be carried out at the employer’s premises, which is especially favourable if you need to travel a great distance to reach the employer.
  • It’s quicker to collate and compare the results of a test that is carried out online.

What happens to the results?

  • The results may be equally weighted with other factors, such as your performance at an interview.
  • They may be used to help interviewers identify possible areas to explore during an interview.
  • Only those who obtain a certain score are interviewed.

How do the tests work?

  • They can be run under exam-like conditions.
  • Your results will be compared with others.
  • They’re designed so that there are more questions than you can answer in the time allowed.
  • Multiple choice.

Can you practice for a psychometric test?

Yes, many recruiters will have practice tests on their websites. You’ll also find many sites including Prospects and WikiJob will have free assessment for you to try. It’s not possible to practice for a personality test, but answer the questions truthfully and not try to 'second-guess' what the test is looking for.

How to approach a test

  • Practise beforehand if you're not used to taking these tests. Many are timed, which can add to the stress.
  • Try not to let nerves prevent you from listening carefully to any verbal instructions.
  • Ask any questions you have before the test starts.
  • Leave more difficult questions until last.
  • Work quickly while maintaining accuracy.
  • Remember it's the number of questions you get right that counts. There's no point in finishing but getting all the answers wrong.

How to approach these tests if you have a disability

If you've declared disabilities, employers are required to make reasonable adjustments to the selection process, under the Equality Act 2010. So don’t be afraid to ask for these if you believe you have any conditions which may impact on your performance. It's a good idea to speak to a member of the graduate recruitment team directly to discuss your needs as soon as you receive an invitation to an assessment centre. For example, it's often possible to allow applicants with dyslexia around 25% additional time for tests. Other assessment formats could also include an alternative to multiple choice.

See our article on psychometric and online tests if you have disability for further examples of adjustments you can ask for.

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