Aptitude and psychometric tests are fast becoming the tools of choice for many employers. Sometimes used in conjunction with conventional interviewing but also applied as a standalone process, testing of this kind can intimidate even the most confident candidate.
Much of this is, however, fear of the unknown – so here we lift the lid on the main types of questions likely to come up and how you should approach your answers.
What are these tests?
Psychometric tests are designed to discover more about a candidate’s knowledge, skills and personality – basically the same things employees are aiming to do at interview. Testing can still be paper-based but is increasingly online. The tests are usually timed so you need to be ready to hit the ground running once the clock starts ticking. In some cases you will not be expected to finish the test- it is useful to establish this before sitting the test.
Some tests focus mainly on personality- exploring your values, your interests and what makes you tick. The employer wants to find out about your character and assess whether you are the right fit for their organisation. Aptitude or skills tests are more task-based. The objective is to discover if your skills set meets the requirements of the role you are being considered for. Common skills being tested include numerical, grammatical, logical and verbal reasoning.
Types of questions
Personality questions– These aim to identify your likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses and qualities such as leadership, sociability and assertiveness. There are no right or wrong answers so it is best to respond honestly. Attempting to second guess what type of personality the employer wants is a risky strategy- if you pretend to be something you’re not you could end up disappointing them and you later on. You may be given statements and asked whether you agree with them, provided with multiple choice options or asked questions which require a more detailed answer. Typical issues which come up include:
- Do you enjoy planning before undertaking tasks?
- Do you set goals in life?
- If people are rude to you how do you react?
- What interests do you have outside work?
- How do you feel about structure?
- What words would your friends use to describe you?
- Do you prefer to follow instructions or come up with your own way of doing things?
Aptitude questions– These questions are skills focused and will concentrate on the areas identified as relevant to the particular job. Popular topics include problem-solving, team-working, numerical skills and linguistic ability (this is generally English although this will depend on whether the post requires fluency in another language). You may be asked to answer questions or undertake specific tasks. Numerical skills can be tested by analysing graphs or tables, gathering information and using this data to complete calculations. Verbal reasoning tests assess your ability to think constructively often by reviewing information and making a decision based on what you have read. Other options include electronic in-tray exercises (to find out how you prioritise pieces of work) and situational judgement exercises (to assess how you approach multi-dimensional scenarios). Depending on the nature of the job there may be specific tests to assess particular skills such as sales or marketing.
Carry out as much research in advance as possible into the type of test you are undertaking and try out practice tests which have a similar approach.
If you’re looking for more information on psychometric tests read our free information page.