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What are psychometric tests?

Psychometric tests are widely used by organisations to support selection decisions and employee development.  Many of us may have taken psychometric tests but what exactly are they and what makes them different from Buzzfeed quizzes?

Very simply, psychometric tests are standardised tools which have been developed specifically to assess individual differences in terms of skills, ability or style of behaviour. Standardisation means that they are developed, administered and scored in a systematic way. Psychometric tests have been tested on various groups of a different age and background and individual performance is always interpreted in relation to appropriate comparison group. Employers use psychometric tests to gain quantifiable information which may be difficult to extract from CVs or traditional selection methods, including interviews.  Psychometric tests are also impartial, thereby minimising the chance of bias influencing hiring decisions.

Different types of psychometric tests

Psychometric tools can be divided into two general categories; personality profiles and tests to determine ability or aptitude.

Personality profiles

The psychometric approach to personality assessment is based on the assumption that personality attributes can be quantitatively measured using techniques such as self-report questionnaires. There are no right or wrong answers, instead, questionnaires look at different characteristics which make up an individual’s personality. Personality questionnaires are used to add value in recruitment or development settings as they can provide insight to a candidate’s typical work style and interpersonal behaviour or how they may be best motivated.

Ability measurement

Ability tests measure processes such as verbal, numerical reasoning. They assess the candidates’ potential to work with verbal or numerical information to a specified level. Other work related tests, such as error checking or proof reading assess candidates’ potential performance in a role where these skills are essential.

There is a wide range of ability tests available. Below is a description of the most commonly used tests in recruitment:

Numerical reasoning

Numerical Reasoning tests assess numerical ability. They can measure basic calculations skills or at a more challenging level candidates’ ability to analyse tables, charts and diagrams or solve complex numerical problems.

Job roles which require a high level of numeracy, such as accountants, sales representatives, engineers or bankers often feature a numerical reasoning test as part of the selection process.

Verbal reasoning

Verbal reasoning tests assess candidates’ ability to comprehend, interpret and analyse verbal information. Verbal reasoning tests typically involve a passage of text and a number of statements relating to the text, which candidates are required to evaluate as “true”, “false”, or “cannot say”. Verbal reasoning tests range from basic administrative level of language use to complex verbal reasoning tasks for graduates or manager level candidates. Verbal reasoning tests are used in recruitment for a range of positions including: Marketing, public relations, publishing, human resources.

Diagrammatic reasoning

Diagrammatic reasoning (often called abstract reasoning) tests assess logical reasoning skills.  In recruitment they are often used to indicate a candidate’s ability to solve complex problems or manipulate information according to a given set of rules. Candidates applying for roles which require high level of logical reasoning or problem solving ability, in areas such as management consulting, engineering or information technology are likely to encounter a diagrammatic reasoning test.

If you would like to take advantage of any of these tools or learn more about which psychometric test to use, please contact us. We are happy to discuss your specific needs and recommend appropriate assessment. We use a range of reputable psychometric instruments including ability tests, aptitude tests and personality questionnaires. Our assessors are BPS accredited and have extensive experience in assisting organisations to add genuine, practical value to their talent management processes.