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What are psychometric tests?

This is the term applied generally to both ability tests and personality questionnaires, which organisations will often use during their assessment of students. You may be asked to complete other selection tests including situational judgement tests.

Personality questionnaires

Personality questionnaires do not have 'right or wrong' answers, and you should answer truthfully. They are used by organisations to gain an insight into your personal preferences, working style and likely behaviour within potential roles, and for them to see if you will be a good fit for their organisation. Your results might be compared to the profiles of existing employees doing similar jobs 'fully and well'.

It is unlikely that this will be a significant deciding factor in whether you are offered the job or not, but may highlight areas for them to look out for during the day or discuss with you at interview.

Ability tests

Ability tests, usually of verbal, numerical or logical thinking, require you to reach a certain level or score in order to 'pass'. The results are then viewed alongside feedback from interviews and other activities you might be asked to undertake during your assessment.

Those most commonly used in graduate recruitment are verbal, numerical and diagrammatic reasoning tests. Employers are interested in your innate ability in these areas.

When you are told you are to be assessed, try to establish which tests or questionnaires are going to be used - there are many! It is good practice for an organisation to provide example material for you to practice in advance of a test or personality questionnaire session.

Results from ability tests are standardised. This means that your scores are compared with those achieved by a large group of similar people who did precisely the same test under the same conditions. So, they have to be administered using formalised procedures and have the same questions or items, the same time limit and be marked in the same way, as all those used for comparison.

These procedures are almost exclusively delivered using online testing, as part of the overall selection process. It is not unusual for organisations to ask candidates to retake a test as part of a randomised procedure, to verify that it was really them who took the test in the first place.

Disability and psychometric testing

There are guidelines to be followed by organisations when testing people with disabilities (which includes dyslexia). Good practice is that you should be asked about any disability and how it is coped with, and provision should be made for the testing to be effectively carried out (including providing you with additional time if required). For a full description of what organisations should consider doing see the SHL website.