What are psychometric tests?
Psychometric tests are standardised psychological measurements of knowledge, abilities, attitudes or personality traits. Psychometric tests have been extensively used in commercial, academic and educational settings for centuries and their popularity has continued to increase. Psychometric tests work by recording a candidate's responses to a set of questions, designed to measure a specific psychological construct, such as cognitive ability or personality. These psychological constructs have been found to be related to real-world outcomes, such as job performance, trainability and competence.
In an employee selection setting, psychometric tests provide the ultimate insight into a candidates potential, providing a meaningful and highly valid prediction of that candidates knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics of good job performance. Tests can be purchased by organisations from psychometric test publishers off-the-shelf, or alternatively bespoke psychometric tests may be designed specifically for an organisation.
Traditionally, psychometric tests have been administered in paper/pencil format, but modern psychometric tests now use the internet for delivery. This means that hundreds, or even thousands, of candidates can be tested from the click of a button, and their data can be compiled and reported automatically. Today, the vast majority of psychometric tests are conducted online, leading to massive growth in the psychometric testing industry.
Candidates from all job levels, from entry level staff to chief executives, psychometric tests are highly effective predictors of job performance in any role or selection process. Additionally, employing organisations are increasingly using bespoke psychometric tests, assessments designed specifically for their organisation. This allows organisations to tailor assessments to the role, guaranteeing congruency between the role and its assessments. Scroll down to read more about bespoke psychometric tests and bespoke psychometric testing.
What types of psychometric tests are there?
Generally speaking, psychometric tests for selection and assessment can be grouped into two categories, cognitive ability tests (aptitude tests) and personality questionnaires. Aptitude tests are measures of cognitive ability (intelligence) and personality questionnaires measure specific personality traits (such as the 'big five' personality traits). These two psychological constructs are important to employee selection as they both show meaningful correlations with job performance. Therefore scientifically valid psychometric tests, such as those sold by Test Partnership, can accurately measure these constructs, providing a predictor of good job performance to client companies.
Within cognitive ability tests, a variety of specific aptitudes can be measured and evaluated, using the following:
- Numerical reasoning tests
- Verbal reasoning tests
- Logical/diagrammatic reasoning tests
- Error checking tests
- Numerical reasoning tests
- Critical thinking tests
Personality questionnaires are even more versatile and can measure the following variables:
- Leadership potential
- Development needs
- Competency potential
Other psychometric tests, such as situational judgement tests draw aspects from both cognitive ability tests and personality questionnaires. As a result, many psychologists consider these exercises to be an intermediate between cognitive ability tests and personality questionnaires. Due to the range of tests on the market, it is always advisable to discuss psychometric testing with an expert before deciding on the use of psychometrics in the workplace.
Why do employers use psychometric tests?
Employers use psychometric testing for multiple reasons, some of which are summarised below:
1. Job performance: Cognitive ability tests are the most powerful and valid predictors of job performance available today and cognitive ability tests are over 14 times more predictive of job performance than the average selection interview (Hunter & Hunter, 1984). Well-researched psychometric tests are the most powerful selection tools available today, outperforming all other selection tools significantly. Psychometric test results also show statistically-significant relationships with other workplace relevant variables, such as training success, job knowledge, organisational citizenship behaviours and task performance.
2. Organisational performance: The use of psychometric tests in the workplace has been found to lead to the following workplace outcomes: increased organisational performance, increased employee retention, reduced cost per hire, decreased employee turnover, decreased absenteeism and higher levels of employee engagement/motivation. Selecting top performing candidates and ensuring a high quality workforce is imperative for any organisation and psychometric testing is the ideal mechanism for ensuring this.
3. Convenience: Online psychometric tests can be sent to candidates at the click of a button, individually or by the thousand. As a result, psychometric testing is significantly less time intensive than other selection process, such as interviews and assessment centres. Once a candidate completes their assessment, reports are automatically generated and available for viewing within seconds, requiring little input from staff. This makes psychometric testing ideal for pre-employment screening,-high volume recruitment, or in busy human resources departments.
4. Return on investment: Psychometric tests can be purchased online and Test Partnership allow you to setup tests easily. Compare this to the cost of hiring a poor performing candidate, which has been found to be 3.2 times the individual's salary (Gallop International). Additionaly, high-performing candidates were found to produce on average 43% more revenue than an average performing employee (Hay group). Based on the table below, using cognitive ability testing helps reduce the chance of recruiting poor-performing employees; thus saving organisations money and reducing staff turnover.
5. Objectivity: Selecting employees using well-researched psychometric tests increases the fairness and objectivity of a selection process. This means that employees can be selected on merit using fair and standardised tests, rather than subjective (or biased) selection methods. Unstructured interviews are classic examples of subjective and inefficient selection tools, which may screen out high performing candidates unnecessarily. Fair, standardised, and valid selection tests are a great way to increase the fairness and objectivity of a selection process, helping organisations avoid legal disputes over unfair selection decisions.
Psychometric test advice for candidates
Employing organisations want candidates to perform well on their psychometric tests and research suggests that psychometric tests become more valid once candidates have prepared beforehand. Therefore, candidates looking to practise psychometric tests for an upcoming assessment should use the following advice to maximise their chances of performing to their best:
1. Practise thoroughly: Practice reduces anxiety and helps you perform to the best of your ability. You will be less likely to panic or make silly mistakes if you are familiar with the style of test you will be taking. We have some free practice tests at the top of this webpage.
2. Stay calm: Easy for us to say, but if you can manage to remain calm, you are much more likely to think rationally and have better focus. Try breathing slowly and deeply, and take your test in a quiet, familiar environment.
3. Download an up-to-date web browser: Modern psychometric tests are conducted online via specially designed test platforms. These platforms will often require an up-to-date version of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari or other modern internet browser. Candidates are advised to ensure their operating system meets the test provider's requirements and they have a stable internet connection
4. Reasonable adjustments: It's only fair that all candidates are assessed on a level playing field. If you are entitled to reasonable adjustments do get in touch with the employer. There are lots of reasonable adjustments which can be made including: extra time; adapted input peripherals; screen readers; screen contrast and colour software; and test administration assistants.
5. Brush up on basic skills: Generally speaking; the most complex psychometric tests will only require candidates to have a GCSE level education in mathematics and English. However, this means that candidates should brush up on simple mathematical and verbal abilities as they will be tested extensively under tight time limits. Mathematical abilities, such as percentages, ratios, multiplication and division are all commonly tested in numerical reasoning tests and should be revised beforehand.
6. Choose your testing environment wisely: Candidates taking unsupervised psychometric tests have the choice of when and where they undertake their test. Candidates are well advised to pick a quiet, stress free environment which they will be able to concentrate when completing their test. Similarly, it is very important to ensure that your chosen location has a stable internet connection, as getting cut out half way through the test would not bode well.
7. Don't try to cheat: It may be tempting to get a friend to sit in when taking an aptitude test, but this strategy is doomed to fail. Too many chefs spoil the broth, and you will spend more time discussing answers than answering them. As a result, you are very unlikely to perform better when working as a team. Similarly, with personality questionnaires, publishers build in measures of rating acquiescence and exaggeration, so they can detect when a candidate is trying to lie. Play it safe and play by the rules.
Where can I get more practice psychometric tests?
Test Partnership doesn't offer pratice tests to buy, we mainly just serve companies assessing candidates. But if you are a candidate and want lots of practice psychometric tests you could try www.assessmentday.co.uk.