Measuring "Hidden" Traits
Psychometric testing can objectively assess "hidden" traits.
Measuring attributes like height, weight, and strength is reasonably simple. These are all physical and observable traits that you can assess objectively. But what about factors that aren't so easy to measure?
Traits such as personality, intelligence, attitude, and beliefs are important characteristics to measure and assess. Whether you're hiring people, helping team members understand themselves and their relationships with others, or trying to figure out what you want to do with your life, it's useful to assess these types of "hidden," less obvious attributes.
One way to gather this information is through psychometric tests. The article looks at what psychometric tests are, what they measure, and how they can help you in both recruiting staff and developing you career.
What Are Psychometric Tests?
Psychometric tests include personality profiles, reasoning tests, motivation questionnaires, and ability assessments. These tests try to provide objective data for otherwise subjective measurements.
For example, if you want to determine someone's attitude, you can ask the person directly, observe the person in action, or even gather observations about the person from other people. However, all of these methods can be affected by personal bias and perspective. By using a psychometric test, you make a more objective and impartial judgment.
Since objectivity is key to using these assessments, a good psychometric test provides fair and accurate results each time it's given. To ensure this, the test must meet these three key criteria:
- Standardization – The test must be based on results from a sample population that's truly representative of the people who'll be taking the test. You can't realistically test every working person in a country. But you can test a representative sample of that group, and then apply the results to the specific people whom you test.Also, a standardized test is administered the same way every time to help reduce any test bias. By using a standardized test, you can compare the results with anyone whose characteristics are similar to those of the sample group.
- Reliability – The test must produce consistent results, and not be significantly influenced by outside factors. For instance, if you're feeling stressed when you take the test, the test results shouldn't be overly different from times when you were excited or relaxed.
- Validity – This is perhaps the most important quality of a test. A valid test has to measure what it's intended to measure. If a test is supposed to measure a person's interests, then it must clearly demonstrate that it does actually measure interests, and not something else that's just related to interests.
Psychometrics is the study of educational and psychological measurements. The adjective "psychometric" is used to describe psychological tests (typically those used in educational and occupational settings) that are standardized as well as proven to be reliable and valid measures of areas like personality, ability, aptitude, and interest.
Beyond these criteria, effective psychometric tests must be relevant to the modern workplace. Before using one of these tests, make sure the test has been validated and updated recently.
What Do Psychometric Tests Measure?
Psychometric tests can measure interests, personality, and aptitude.
- Interest tests measure how people differ in their motivation, values, and opinions in relation to their interests.
- Personality tests measure how people differ in their style or manner of doing things, and in the way they interact with their environment and other people.
- Aptitude tests measure how people differ in their ability to perform or carry out different tasks.
Advantages of Psychometric Tests
Psychometric tests can help to make personnel and career-related assessments more objective.
These tests also save a great deal of time. They're typically very easy to administer, and they can be given to a group of people easily. (Some other types of assessments must be given individually.) Psychometric tests are also easily scored, so results come back quickly and reliably.
Many of these tests are completed using software programs, and some can even be completed online. This, again, provides a time advantage, and it can reduce costs significantly compared to other methods. People can take the tests from anywhere, and the results are accurately scored each time.
There are costs involved in purchasing tests as well as in hiring or training someone to administer and evaluate them. It's important to consider these costs against the advantages that the tests may bring.
Using Psychometric Tests
Psychometric tests can be used for a variety of purposes. Some of the most common uses are as follows:
- Selection of personnel – Here, tests can help recruiters and hiring managers determine candidates who best fit a position. Personality, aptitude, and knowledge tests are all very common in this type of testing situation. For a detailed discussion of these types of tests and how to use them for hiring, see our article on Using Recruitment Tests .
- Individual development and training – Psychometric tests can help you determine how best to improve current skills and performance. For example, if your department is going to introduce a new type of technology, it might be helpful to assess people on their interests and motivations related to new technology. The Business Attitude Inventory and the California Measure of Mental Motivation are psychometric tests available for training and development purposes. You could also use aptitude and skills tests to determine a person's ability to perform certain tasks.
- Team building and development – This area can provide many uses for psychometric tests. The better people understand themselves and others, the better they can build and maintain positive workplace relationships. Tests like the Hogan Development Survey are designed specifically to uncover potential sources of relationship tension. General personality assessments, including the Myers-Briggs Typology Indicator® (MBTI) and theCalifornia Psychological Inventory™ (CPI), are also very helpful for team building and strengthening. Values in Action can help you gain insights into group behaviors and dynamics that relate to people's values.
- Career development and progression – Psychometric tests can help you uncover values and interests that are fundamental to overall career satisfaction. For those starting out in their careers and those who are looking for the right career path, interest surveys like Holland's Codes and Schein's Career Anchors are also useful psychometric tests to consider.
Remember to keep psychometric testing in perspective. These tests are only one of many different types of assessments that you can use in recruitment and career development.
Assessing and appraising people is a highly complex and subjective process, and psychometric tests are a good way of objectively assessing people's "hidden" traits.
From recruitment to long-term career development, these tests provide a great deal of reliable information to make important personnel decisions. If you use the tests, ensure that they are appropriate for you needs, and that they've been rigorously evaluated.
Top 10 Tips to Prepare for a Psychometric Test
1. Find out what the employer is looking for in the right job applicant
When advertising and seeking to fill a position, all employers want the best person for the job by finding the right applicant. It’s about hiring the person who will best fit the job; from a skills, intelligence, personality and cultural perspective. Psychometric testing results provide employers with a behavioural profile of you - your level of intelligence or aptitude (measured by aptitude tests), and your personality characteristics (measured by the personality test). The profile will indicate whether you can solve problems, are a team player or whether you prefer to work individually, and other relevant attributes.
So prior to taking the test, pick up the phone and call the recruiter for a chat to find out what attributes the right applicant has. Often you will also find clues in the position description or job advertisement.
2. Learn about psychometric testing techniques
Psychometric Tests are not like any other test you’ve ever taken. All too often job seekers assume that if they are good at maths or can speed read in English or have just finished uni, they will blitz the Psychometric Test. This is a wrong assumption. Psychometric Tests aim to measure your abstract, verbal and numerical reasoning skills. These Aptitude Tests are timed and designed in a very unique way. To master these tests you need to add a new set of test taking strategies to your tool box.
3. Get yourself in good physical and mental shape
You need to be at your best to produce good results in psychometric testing. Tiredness is likely to severely damage your scores in the Intelligence or Aptitude tests. Make sure you are well rested and try to take decent breaks in between aptitude tests to ensure you regain your energy.
4. Get to know the types of aptitude test questions
Familiarising yourself with the typical content and format of psychometric tests will give you a significant advantage. Verbal and numerical Aptitude Test questions are generally multiple choice questions which must be completed in a very short time. These questions can include topics like social sciences, physical or biological sciences, and business-related areas like marketing, economics, and human resource management. The Abstract Aptitude Test is a non-verbal test that uses shapes as test questions. Generally, no specific knowledge of these subject areas is required. Familiarity with the type of test questions will get you a competitive edge.
5. Practice the Psychometric Tests online
Prepare for and practice the Psychometric Tests just like you would for any exam or test. Practicing test questions and training your brain to identify frameworks for solving problems will significantly improve your results. The majority of Psychometric Tests are administered online, therefore it is important that you train or prepare for your Psychometric Test using the same medium as the real tests – online.
6. Find out the type of Psychometric Test questions you need to practice
Not all jobs get the same test questions. The level of difficulty and complexity of Psychometric Test questions changes based on the job you are applying for. A test for a management position is likely to have more difficult questions than that of an entry role. Ensure you are practicing the right type of test questions for your test.
7. Plan your time and set milestones
All Aptitude Tests in the Psychometric Test are timed. On the other hand they are also designed in a way that only 1 – 2% of people who take such a test can actually finish it. Here’s the good news, you don’t have to complete all the test questions to get a perfect score, and easy questions score the same as hard ones. The best strategy is to set milestones and if you don’t know the answer to a question, go on to complete others. If you have time left, you can revisit the harder questions.
8. Use any tools that are allowed
Most Numerical Aptitude Tests will allow the use of a calculator and will advise this upfront. If you haven’t used a calculator for a while, familiarise yourself with the different types of operations well ahead of the test. Brush up on reading tables and graphs as well.
9. Read and increase your English vocabulary
Start reading a broader section of the newspaper or any industry specific information regarding the job you are applying for to increase your vocabulary. It will help you to grasp Verbal Aptitude Test questions quicker, answer them faster and therefore improve your score.
10. Be sure not to trigger a lie or fake good scale in the Personality Test
Most Personality Tests are designed to indicate whether you were consistent in your answers and to what extent you tried to portray yourself in an overly positive manner. It’s fine to make yourself look good. We all do it when we want to get a job. However, ensure that you don’t overdo it as it will cause inconsistency in your answers. Just be yourself and know what set of your strengths you want to highlight.
Succeeding in the Psychometric Tests
As daunting as Psychometric Tests sometimes appear, the key to success and achieving a top score is practice and preparation. Research the company you are sitting the Psychometric Tests for. Identify their culture, values and the calibre of employee they’re searching for. This will help you in the Personality Tests. And then practice, practice, practice! Practice answering the Psychometric Tests online to build your confidence and get that job!