You might have heard about psychometric tests when you were applying for your first job. If you haven’t, fret not. Unless you are the monogamous, one-job-for-life kinda person, you’ll have many opportunities to experience the joys of tackling psychometric tests in one form or another. You may have wondered what it is about these mind-numbing series of aptitude test questions and answers that make the higher educational universities (colleges & business schools) and the not-so-higher echelons of the corporate world lap them up with relish.
Before the next institution or company pokes you with its psychometric needle in the name of scientific assessment, it is good to get educated about what is being tested, how they will use this data and what you can do to come across as a more favourable candidate. Here’s a list of frequently asked questions on offline and online psychometric tests.
The simple meaning of Psychometric testing can be found in the word itself.
Psycho = mind, metric = measurement
Which means it becomes a little less interesting that the study of psychopaths. But useful enough to get the companies, institutions and individuals to spend big bucks on it each year.
These tests can be used to delve into the mind of employees, students or just about anyone to see identify their skills and abilities in specific areas. These are used extensively for academic selection, professional recruitment (for non-MBA and MBA jobs – promotion, training, development) purposes.
Psychometric tests are designed with a very specific objective in mind. Making it too broad to cover too many aspects can make the test too long, vague and unreliable. The primary tool for gathering psychometric data is through questionnaires. The two basic categories of psychometric tests are – Aptitude tests and Personality tests
Aptitude tests: These tests focus on the candidate’s numerical ability, verbal skills, spatial visualisation or any other vocational or academic area.
Examples of Aptitude tests: The GMAT is a psychometric test. So is the GRE. And the TOEFL, and many other entrance exams that you’d be familiar with. However the world of aptitude testing is broader in scope.
Personality tests: This is where the external entities get a little too personal (intrusive, actually) and try to get into your psyche to understand who you are as a person, what are your behavioural traits, how you may behave in certain situations.
Examples of Personality tests: The MBTI (Myers Briggs) framework, Big 5 model, 16 Personality Factors (16PF) are some popular examples of personality tests.
Personality tests are (arguably) a little more interesting than aptitude tests, as they can be good introspective tools, apart from being selection instruments. Here’s a free online personality test.
Irrespective of who pays for it (you or your prospective employer), psychometric tests can be pretty expensive. These tests can be free or paid. With free online psychometric tests (more so with personality tests), there is generally a catch. At the end of the 45 odd minutes you spend hoping to get a freebie and a deeper insight into your mysterious mind, you may get a message that says something to the tune of – ‘Here’s your flimsy free report. Pay $99 for a more detailed report with more of your dirty little secrets that’ll justify your time on our site.’).
The psychometric testing industry is huge. It hires thousands of researchers & statisticians (who create, test and fine tune psychometric test models), test professionals (who administer the tests, analyse the data and provide counselling services) and business managers (to handle the highly qualified personnel and promote a symbiotic network of service providers and candidates). Somebody’s gotta pay their salaries, right?
The bigger companies prefer an offline process where a certified / qualified / trained assessment professional from the company that has developed the psychometric test or a marketing affiliate comes to the office with a laptop or a bunch of printouts.
After a brief, verbal explanation of each section within the questionnaire (which any literate employee could have read directly from the test instructions) the assessment professional asks the candidate to complete the section and waits patiently.
If it’s a paper-based questionnaire, at the end of the test, the company representative feeds the answers into the psychometric test software and the algorithm generates a report. This is shared with your prospective employer.
Online psychometric tests work in the same manner, with the difference that the candidate fills up the questionnaire online directly. The generated report is emailed to the employer. Or if you’ve paid for it for yourself, you get a copy in your inbox. You then have an option to have a counselling session with one of their certified counsellors.
If you skip this counselling session, the process stops with a self-explanatory report in your hands. The cost varies accordingly, with fee per report for the company being the highest and the do-it-yourself option being the cheapest.
Check out some of the sample Psychometric test questions available on the internet. We have a short aptitude test (20 minute free GMAT practice test with no strings attached) on our site. If you are interested in personality tests, hang on for a while more. We’ll get to that shortly.
Have you taken pyschometric tests? What has been your experience with them? How useful did you find them?