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Top 5 tips for surviving psychometric testing

Erin Delaney

Careers Commentator
Lots of grads expect that because they’ve been taking tests for, let’s face it, years, they’ve more than likely got any other kind of test you could throw at them in the bag.

This ain’t no regular test.

Companies that use psychometric testing, usually blue-chip and professional services organisations, are looking for a particular set of skills and values when they test potential employees. Once reserved for executives and senior managers, this type of testing is gaining traction in the workforce as roles become more demanding and nuanced, and the skills needed to fill them more specialised.

The key to achieving a top score is practice, preparation and consistency. Familiarity with the format is the best way to give yourself a competitive edge, but be careful not to try and ‘game’ the test: they’re designed to highlight the consistency and integrity of responses. If you answer favourably to something in one section, and negatively in another, the score may reflect that you’ve tried to portray yourself in an overly positive manner. It’s best to stick to your real values, or at worst the values of the company you’re applying to. Don’t get too clever or it could backfire spectacularly, capiche?

Tip 1: Get into shape, Rocky-style

You’re gonna need a trainer, a mountain and a montage. No, but really, you’re going to need to be in superior mental shape, so give yourself a couple of really good nights of rest and if exercise helps clear your mind, hit the treadmill!. Do some exercise, drink some water and really focus on being ready for the mental labyrinth you’re about to try and find your way through as fast as you can. Make sure the room you take the test in is nice and quiet, and you won’t be disturbed for the duration.

Tip 2: Find out the type of test you’ll be taking

If you can figure out what kind of test you’ll be taking, you can get online and practice, practice, practice! Speak to anyone you know at the company, try and track down other grads from uni that have already been through the application process or even jump online into a grad group on Whirlpool and see if anyone has posted about it.

Tip 3: Use the tools available to you

If the test pack says you can use a calculator, make sure you have a calculator! If you’re allowed to do a practice question ahead of time, do the practice question! It might seem simple, but oftentimes these little opportunities to get ahead of the curve are lost in the flurry of nerves and excitement at sitting the test. Take it slow and use every advantage you can find.

Tip 4: Familiarise yourself with the different types of test questions

Get to know the types of psychometric test questions you could come up against for a distinct advantage when it comes time to be tested.

The typical types are:

  • Verbal and numerical aptitude: usually multiple-choice questions that must be answered as quickly as possible. Topics covered can range from marketing, human resource management and economics to science and the environment.
  • Abstract aptitude test: a non-verbal test that uses shapes instead of letters and numbers. You don’t need to know anything about these ahead of time, but practice will take you a long way towards answering these quicker than you would otherwise.

Tip 5: Plan your time carefully

All psychometric tests are timed and are designed to be pretty much unfinishable (except on the odd, rare occasion by some very clever people who should really be building rockets and doing brain surgery anyway). But don’t worry! You don’t have to complete all the test questions to get a high score, and the easy questions are scored just as highly as the hard ones. So, work your way through with a plan in mind for how far along you need to be at different points in time, finishing all the easy questions you can. If you have time, you can always go back to complete the harder questions.

The importance of practice can’t be stressed enough, so get plenty of it to familiarise yourself with the format and content ahead of time. You can’t game the tests as such, but you sure can give yourself a competitive advantage.

Websites for test practice