Selection Tests


For many, selection tests – or Psychometric tests – present a serious obstacle to obtaining a job or promotion. Many people fail to perform as well as they could or should on psychometric tests because they are nervous, anxious, lack practice in test techniques, are unfamiliar with the way in which questions are posed, or are unprepared.

Put simply, psychometric means ‘mental measurement’. The British Psychological Society defines psychometric measurement as follows: ‘A psychological test is any procedure on the basis of which inferences are made concerning a person’s capacity, propensity or liability to act, react, experience or to structure or order thought or behaviour in particular ways’.

Psychometric tests fall into two main types:


 Practicing Tests

The value of practice to improve performance is well recognised in many areas, particularly in sport and the performing arts. Experience in psychology and education over many years of preparing candidates for both selection tests and examinations suggests that if you want to perform to the best of your ability you should prepare.

If you wish to practice some psychometric tests or learn more about them, you can find out more information at ‘Practice Tests’  and SHL.

Think about the following before your test session:

  • Find out if you will be taking ability or personality tests or both
  • Undertake relevant practice test questions, familiarise yourself with the type of test you will be taking
  • Make sure you know what you have to do before the test starts and ask if you are unsure
  • Read the instructions very carefully and make sure you fully understand them
  • Check to make sure that you are filling in the right space on the answer sheet
  • Concentrate on the test itself and don’t let yourself be distracted
  • Be positive and open-minded in your attitude, no matter what your previous experience

For ability tests:

  • Sharpen your mental ability with cognitive puzzles and mind games (e.g. crosswords, Sudoku, mental arithmetic, etc)
  • Enter your best guess or estimate if you are unsure of an answer
  • Work as quickly and accurately as you can
  • Avoid spending too much time on questions you find difficult, leave them and move on

For personality tests:

  • Get to know yourself better, know your personality
  • Ask others for feedback (family, friends, work colleagues)
  • Keep a journal or log of how you respond and how you feel in different situations or contexts
  • Be conscious of your behaviour, how people and events affect you
  • Know what you like and don’t like, where you are comfortable and uncomfortable
  • Watch and observe how people respond
  • Don’t over-analyse the questions; avoid agonising over each individual question and answer
  • Be honest

Below are some books which might help you:

  • ‘Psychometric Testing Pocketbook’: Barry Cripps and Dorothy Spry, 2008
  • How to Pass Selection Tests’: Mike Bryon and Sanjay Modha, 1993
  • ‘How to Pass Graduate Recruitment Tests’: Mike Bryon, 1994
  • How to Pass Verbal Reasoning Tests’: Harry Tolley and Ken Thomas, 1996
  • ‘Prepare for tests at Interview’: Robert Williams

There are some websites which you can visit to find out more about psychometric tests:
    * Go to: ‘assessments’  : Then click on the test you are interested in (e.g. ‘Hogan’ etc).
    * Go to: ‘Psychometric Tools’  :  Then click on the test you want to find out more about (e.g. ’16PF’, ‘MBTI’ etc).

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