Psychometrics - Why there's nothing to fear


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Richmond Solutions' quick guide to preparing for psychometric and personality tests.

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Psychometrics - Why there's nothing to fear

  1. 1. Psychometric tests:Preparation and whythere’s nothing to fearby Heidi Nicholson, Richmond Solutions andStephenie Curnock, Amber Occupational Psychology SolutionsLet’s begin >> PERSONAL CAREER ADVOCATES R RICHMOND +44 (0)20 8835 7082 S
  2. 2. Be yourself...There’s a lot less to remember .In our time we have been asked by friends, “so how do I make A recent CIPD survey showed that 35% ofmyself look really good in these tests?” The spur for the businesses now use a combination of interviews andquestion is invariably that someone has been confronted by psychometrics when recruiting for a role and researchhaving to do psychometric tests for the first time. They are an suggests that this combined approach increases theunknown, and as a result the people posing the question are likelihood of employing the best candidate.fearful that the tests will reveal a side to their character they Psychometrics are typically used to corroborate otherwould rather not discuss or, worse still, that they will not be parts of the selection procedure, not supersede it.offered the job on the strength of performance in the testsalone. The second bit of good news is that effective preparationPsychometrics assessments fall in to two main categories – can help.aptitude tests, which assess cognitive capacity such as numericaland verbal reasoning ability, and personality questionnaireswhich assess behavioural and motivation characteristics.The first bit of good news is that it is highly unlikely that youwill lose a job opportunity on the strength of the psychometrictests alone. PERSONAL CAREER ADVOCATES R RICHMOND S BACK HOME NEXT
  3. 3. Improving your performanceon aptitude testsAptitude Tests comprise of multiple choice Therefore with several factors different affecting shown to reduce errors made when completingquestions, each question having one correct answer. performance on aptitude tests, the strategies you subsequent tests. Reducing test anxiety means thereThey are designed to measure an individual’s employ to help you perform at your best will largely is more ‘mental energy’ available during the test forcapacity to think logically and solve problems depend on the time you have before the test. It may reasoning activities rather than being wasted onindependent of prior knowledge (such as abstract not be practical or possible to change your emotional worry. Feedback on relative strengths andreasoning tests) and the capacity to learn from past educational background in the short term, however areas of weakness from practicing tests can also helpexperiences and apply this to new situations (such there is always benefit in the medium term to ditch to target your energies beforehand so that youas numerical reasoning and verbal reasoning tests). the calculator and complete lots of Sudoku puzzles focus your preparation on the areas where you needWhen assessments are conducted scores are or crosswords in order to exercise those critical to.derived for actual ability (as opposed to ability reasoning skills or brush up on the mentalrelative to other candidates) and are established by arithmetic. However if the test is looming and you’re By practising thesecomparing scores to a “norm group”. A norm group short on preparation time, in the short term, tests, not only will youconsists of scores collected from a comparison practicing actual psychometric test under similar increase yourgroup of individuals of a similar level of attainment. test conditions presents the best gains in helping confidence when it you to perform at your best. comes to the realIn the case of aptitude assessments, research thing, but you will beindicates that several factors influence performance Research has also indicated that practice with high able to develop youron these tests - such as level of attainment and the quality test materials in a similar form these tests test-taking strategiesrecency of completing formal education, the are delivered (e.g. timed and online) also helps to and, having gained anfrequency of using critical reasoning skills on a day reduce test anxiety. Test anxiety is made up of insight into yourto day basis, previous experience of taking several factors – such as emotional worry, performance, work onpsychometric tests and familiarity with the types of unfamiliarity and lack of confidence. Reducing test improving your results.questions and information these tests include. anxiety through practice and feedback has been PERSONAL CAREER ADVOCATES R RICHMOND S BACK HOME NEXT
  4. 4. Improving your performancein personality profilingAlongside the ability based test, the other major how their motives and talents may interact with your answers and to what extent you have tried topart of psychometric assessment is personality other factors such as the organisation’s culture, key present a favourable impression. With so manyprofiling. This is conducted through completion of a aspects of the job and the working environment. integral checks, trying to present a certain image canquestionnaire (usually online these days) followed up This all helps to determine the potential result in a confused or distorted profile and will actby an interview or feedback session. performance and competency in the role. as ‘red flags’ to the trained eye. So when answering personality questionnaires, it is always best toPersonality assessment helps to establish a profile of Where ability tests have clear ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ answer honestly based on accurate self-reflection ofindividual behavioural preferences, needs and talents. answers, this is not so with personality assessments, your typical behaviours.This can include motivation and perceived so you can’t necessarily ‘improve’ your performance.effectiveness and, since these are self-report However in the case of personality assessments it isquestionnaires, it is important that the data gathered rather a situation of gaining a greater insight intois validated through discussion with an individual your own strengths and limitations through priorwho is trained to accurately interpret the profile self-reflection in order to help you prepare for your(such as a Psychologist). Personality questionnaires feedback session or interview.are considered to be fair and objective tools with anestablished reputation for predicting performance. It is important to point out that when responding to personality questionnaires don’t try to second guessSituational factors may impact on a personality what you should say: much research has beenprofile and the feedback session can help establish carried out into response styles. The more robustwhy an individual has responded in a particular way. and reputable assessments have now incorporatedThe root cause can then be identified and discussed. multiple checks to measure response stylesProfiling provides an interviewing panel with a throughout the questionnaire. These response styledeeper understanding of what drives a person and scales measure how consistent you have been in PERSONAL CAREER ADVOCATES R RICHMOND S BACK HOME NEXT
  5. 5. The benefits for preparingfor these tests▪ Gaining an understanding of how different ▪ Developing strategies to address likely areas of ▪ Understanding the structure for challenging and behaviours, needs, motives and preferences might limitation - demonstrating strength of character questioning the findings of personality profiling interact with aspects of an organisation’s culture, and self-awareness to an employer. during feedback. the job and the work environment. ▪ Being prepared for what aspects of your ▪ Getting an insight into how personality profiling▪ Being aware of key factors that are likely to inhibit personality a psychologist may be particularly can influence questions asked at the interview or enhance your success in a particular role. interested in. stage, so that you are as prepared as possible to face any panel.▪ Being aware of the pitfalls of attempting to second-guess desired traits in a personality questionnaire.▪ Understanding your strengths and how to use them to the full.▪ Being aware of the pitfalls of ‘overplaying’ certain key strengths and how to reduce their potential negative impacts. PERSONAL CAREER ADVOCATES R RICHMOND S BACK HOME NEXT
  6. 6. ConclusionThere is really no mystery to psychometricassessment.You may hear that preparation is noteffective but research has shown that severalfactors contribute to effective performance andpractice can help. Being prepared can not onlyimprove your familiarity and reduce errors but willincrease your confidence. Since they are anincreasingly popular part of selection processes,being prepared for them is an important part ofthe job hunting process. PERSONAL CAREER ADVOCATES R RICHMOND S BACK HOME NEXT
  7. 7. Some of the most commonly used tests:Personality Profiling• Wave® Professional Styles and Wave® • OPQ32r® (SHL) • 16PF® (OPP) measures 16 traits that describe Focus Styles (Saville Consulting) provides detailed information on 32 specific and predict a persons behaviour in a variety of is a powerful measurement of personality. It personality characteristics which support contexts. It looks as an individual’s whole measures an individual’s motives, talents, performance on key job competencies and is personality, revealing potential, capacity to sustain preferred culture and competency potential in a designed solely for use in a business performance, and helping identify development single questionnaire. It enables employers to environment. It measures aspects of behaviour needs. look at an individual’s job fit and organisation fit crucial to performance potential which cannot and provides information on factors that be identified through other means, such as a CV enhance and limit performance. The profile is or an interview. It offers a clear, simple split into 4 clusters, and provides detail in up to framework for understanding the impact of 108 different facets. The Wave® Focus Styles is a personality on job performance. shorter version of the Wave® Professional Styles questionnaire.• NEO PI-R™ (Hogrefe) is a highly-regarded, well-researched assessment of personality. It concisely measures the five major domains of personality (the five factor model) along with traits or facets that define each domain. PERSONAL CAREER ADVOCATES R RICHMOND S BACK HOME NEXT
  8. 8. Some of the most commonly used tests:Ability/Aptitude tests• Saville Consulting Aptitude • SHL Verify™ is a range of online Assessments includes a range of tests for (unsupervised) ability tests which are followed Directors, Managers, Graduates and up by a short (supervised) verification test at an Professionals designed to measure different interview or assessment centre. The tests aspects of an individual’s aptitude. These tests measure an individual’s ability to evaluate the come in a variety of formats (online and hard logic of various kinds of argument presented in copy) and assess an individual’s ability to evaluate written form, the ability to draw inferences and complex written information, evaluate numerical understand the relationships between various data and evaluate processes represented through concepts independent of acquired and the diagrams. Some tests also include information on ability to make correct decisions or inferences test taking style including accuracy, speed and from numerical or statistical data set in a realistic caution. workplace context. The Verify™ item bank creates unique online tests for every test taker,• Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking improving security and reducing the risk of Appraisal assesses an individual’s critical cheating. thinking skills relevant to problem solving and decision making. This includes the ability to define and select relevant information to solve problems, recognise assumptions, evaluate arguments, formulate and select relevant hypotheses, judge inferences and draw valid conclusions. PERSONAL CAREER ADVOCATES R RICHMOND S BACK HOME NEXT
  9. 9. Some of the most commonly used tests:AbilityTests (continued)• Leadership Judgment Indicator • ABLE® Series tests (OPP) are based on (Hogrefe) provides valuable insight into the real-life scenarios and work simulations. They relative leadership strengths and provides an measure an individuals potential to learn a given assessment of the degree to which the leader task, adapt to changing work environments and can flex away from his or her preferred style to their ability to handle future work challenges. the most appropriate one for the particular These tests are used to supplement information situation. It is a scenario-based assessment which about and individual’s past experience based on measures an individual’s preferred style in evidence collected from the interview and or addition to how well the individual understands CV. the importance of sometimes behaving against their preferred style.• Scenarios Assessing Managerial Judgement (SHL) comes in three editions, Graduate, Managerial and Executive. The test measures an individual’s ability to weigh up real- life situations and decide on appropriate and effective ways of handling them. The test provides an overall rating of managerial judgement which is also broken down into key components including Managing Objectives, People Management and Reputation Management. PERSONAL CAREER ADVOCATES R RICHMOND S BACK HOME NEXT
  10. 10. Richmond Solutions offer psychometric familiarisation as one of their services. For further details, please contact Heidi Nicholson,Partner at If you would like a free review of your CV or LinkedIn profile, please contact us via our website. For updates from Richmond Solutions follow us onTwitter @richmondsol and join our LinkedIn group. With regular updates and information always appearing on our blog,why not come and take a look PERSONAL CAREER ADVOCATESR RICHMOND +44 (0)20 8835 7082S