What are Psychometric Tests?

The word psychometric is formed from the Greek words for mental and measurement. Psychometric tests attempt to objectively measure aspects of your mental ability or your personality. You are most likely to encounter psychometric testing as part of the recruitment or selection process and occupational psychometric tests are designed to provide employers with a reliable method of selecting the most suitable job applicants or candidates for promotion.

Psychometric tests are seldom used in isolation and represent just one of the methods used by employers in the selection process. The usual procedures for selecting candidates still apply, for example: A job is advertised and you are invited to send in your resume, which is then checked to see if the organisation thinks that your experience and qualifications are suitable.

It is only after this initial screening that you may be asked to sit a psychometric test. These tests aim to measure attributes like intelligence, aptitude and personality, providing a potential employer with an insight into how well you work with other people, how well you handle stress, and whether you will be able to cope with the intellectual demands of the job.

There are two main types of psychometric tests:

  1. Ability Tests – Measure your ability to perform or carry out different tasks.
  2. Personality Questionnaires - Measure your way of doing things, and specifically the way you interact with your environment and other people.

Aptitude Tests
Aptitude and ability tests are designed to assess your logical reasoning or thinking performance. They consist of multiple choice questions and are administered under exam conditions. They are strictly timed and a typical test might allow 30 minutes for 30 or so questions.

Verbal Ability- These include questions which test your ability to spell words correctly, use correct grammar, understand analogies and follow detailed written instructions.

Numeric Ability - These include questions on basic arithmetic, number sequences and simple mathematics. In more complex numerical critical reasoning questions, blocks of information are provided that require interpretation.

Abstract Reasoning - These tests are usually based on diagrams and measure your ability to identify the underlying logic of a pattern and then determine the solution.

Spatial Reasoning - These tests measure your ability to manipulate shapes in two dimensions or to visualize three-dimensional objects presented as two-dimensional pictures.

Mechanical Reasoning - These tests are designed to assess your knowledge of physical and mechanical principles.

Aptitude tests produce raw scores which are compared to a benchmark which may be either average scores for a particular norm group or which may be a specific criterion of performance. In other words, your score may indicate that a certain ability is better than say 70% of graduates, or is at a level which shows sufficient competence to carry out certain tasks required by the job.

Aptitude tests are designed so that very few people will be able to complete all of the questions, and the problems usually become more complex as the test progresses. Don’t be concerned if you do not complete all of the questions - its the number of correct answers that matters.

Personality Questionnaires
The principle behind personality questionnaires is that it is possible to quantify your personality by asking you about your feelings, thoughts and behavior. You will be presented with statements describing various ways of feeling or acting and asked to answer each one on a scale. For example;

1. I enjoy taking risks?

A) True B) False


2. I like to be the center of attention?

A) strongly disagree B) disagree C) neutrals D) agree E) strongly agree


The number of questions you are expected to answer varies from about 50 to 500 depending on the particular questionnaire used by the employer.

Personality has a significant role to play in providing answers to questions the employer may have regarding your enthusiasm and motivation as well as providing an insight into whether you are going to fit in, in terms of your personality, attitude and general work style.

What types of employers use psychometric tests?

Percentage of Companies using Psychometrci Tests

Psychometric testing is now used by over 80% of the Fortune 500 companies in the USA and by over 75% of the Times Top 100 companies in the UK. Tests are used by many employers across most sectors, including IT, engineering, energy, banking, consultancy, accountancy, the civil service and other public sector, fast moving consumer goods and retail.

You may also be interested in: An Introduction to Psychometric Tests, Personality Questionnaires and Aptitude Tests.

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