What is Psychometric Testing?

You may have completed one of these tests when applying for a job or as part of a college entrance exam. So what are they? Psychometric tests measure aspects of your mental ability or personality. They provide a reliable and objective measure of your strengths. There are two types of psychometric testing:


Aptitude Tests

Aptitude is your natural ability or skill in a particular area.
It’s not your IQ! Instead, it is that special something (your unique mental processes!) that makes an activity effortless or very easy to you. Testing an individual’s aptitude is the measurement of their ability to perform different tasks or acquire specific skills and knowledge.

The main categories of ability tests are:

  • Verbal
  • Numerical
  • Abstract
  • Mechanical
  • Spacial
  • Clerical
  • Dexterity

Let’s look at an example to show just how useful aptitudes can be in career choice.

Q: What common aptitude do the following professions share:
Dressmakers, Architects and Dentists.

A: Spatial Awareness

This is the ability to imagine a 3-dimensional object from a 2-dimensional pattern and to then visualise how this object would look if rotated in space. Dressmakers, Architects and Dentists work with patterns, drawings and x-rays to create suits, buildings and braces!

In order to analyse an aptitude, the test score is converted into a percentile. The magic happens when you compare this percentile with a comparison group. This comparison group is called a norm group and it’s essential that the correct norm group is selected. Therefore, a 15 year old student’s result should be matched with other similarly aged students. A norm group is also a very useful tool for benchmarking a level of ability when recruiting. This gives an accurate representation of how their scores compare to their peers and your requirements. So no students will be matched with 35 year old quantum physicists! But if you’re recruiting physicists then their scores will be used!

Personality or Interest Tests

Have you completed a personality or interest assessment at different points in your life and wondered why you always get the same results, every time? The explanation lies in the definition below! Your personality is:

“The characteristic, stable patterns of behaviour and ways of thinking and feeling
that determine a person’s unique way of adjusting to the environment” (Coaley, 2009).

So it’s the way you feel, think and behave about yourself and the world and it doesn’t really change over time!
There are personality dimensions that are connected to careers and so by understanding yourself better you can look for careers that are best suited to your personality. For instance, do you love meeting new people, organising events, debating, chatting about ideas, does the company of people fill you with energy? Chances are you are an Extrovert. Quick quiz, which of these careers would suit an Extrovert:

a) Jockey b) Archaeologist c) Estate Agent

Too easy?
Get in touch for the answer?!

Your personality is very much connected to your interests and motivations. So it’s also very important to also analyse this area. The format of interest questionnaires are typically along the lines of:

Q: Imagine you are stranded on a small island for 2 years in the South Pacific with a few others. What activities would you be naturally inclined to do to help the group survive and get on.

a) Invent a fishing net and spear for hunting

b) Monitor the food supply and enforce fairness and adherence to laws

c) Nurse sick people back to health

d) Hunt, fish, chop wood, gather berries and carry water

Through interest inventories, you can see patterns emerge in terms of what really makes you tick! It’s also important to discuss the results and ask further questions, such as: what are your favourite pastimes, who is the person you must admire and can you describe your best day? These answers provide rich information in terms of your interests. The careers that match your interests will ensure that you are intrinsically motivated to work; to get out of bed on a cold and dark morning and enjoy your day! So you see, psychometric tests are an invaluable tool to assist you in selecting and developing your career. They help to solve a three-part jigsaw; the careers best suited to your unique blend of interests, talents and personality.

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