Psychometric testing is a divisive topic. Some companies swear by it, and have it as an absolute pre-requisite to any hiring process. Candidates often discredit them, but even if you laugh in the face of a psychometric assessment, they can be a daunting proposition.
As an Executive Search business, we see a lot of psychometric testing. We do a lot of work at the mid – senior level, which means that the hires we are typically involved with are crucially important to our clients, and therefore they will want as much information as possible about a candidate before taking a decision. This means we see a lot of psychometric tests being carried out.
So from us, to you, here’s how I think it’s best to tackle them, in 5 easy steps!
#1 Take Them Seriously
This is the biggest one, and the most difficult hurdle for some candidates to initially negotiate. Dismissing psychometrics doesn’t help anything, regardless of your opinion. If the next stage of an interview is a test, that’s not changing. Some companies might share your outlook, and take them with a pinch of salt, but others take them very seriously, and if the tests don’t produce the results they want, you’re out of the process. This means that they shouldn’t be taken lightly.
So if you have one coming up, swallow the ego, and start preparing.
#2 Know What You’re Getting Into
Post ego-swallow, it's important to see psychometric tests as very much a ‘catch all’ term. The tests themselves can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and assess a wide variety of different things.
Business acumen, general personality, leadership style, mathematical ability and your ability to cope under pressure are all different elements that you can be tested on, and in a variety of ways. Sometimes, it’s a chat with someone on the phone. For others, it can be an online multiple choice test, and some can even be done in person. Each of the tests have their own providers and, it’s best to try and find out what test you’ll be doing so you can prepare well.
Even if it’s just knowing whether you’ll be dialling, logging or driving into the test – it’s all valuable information.
#3 Practice Makes Perfect
It’s tough to practice for tests for the reasons mentioned above, but there are some practice tests available online. Sometimes, test providers such as Thomas International will provide a pre-test booklet, which will instruct you how to prepare, and what you need to do. These can sometimes even include practice tests, which makes them a valuable resource, and worth hunting down.
As with any element of a job search – it’s all about the research you conduct, and it makes sense to gather as much information as possible about what you’re entering into before you start. Be prepared though - some practice tests ask for payment.
Another reason for putting in some practice hours is to be familiarised with the format of the tests, which can be disconcerting if you haven’t seen or come across one before. The Gallup StrengthsFinder test, for example, will ask you to combine sentence pairs, whereas a Thomas International PPA test will provide you with a statement, and then present you with words which will represent different behavioural responses to that situation – for you to pick the most appropriate for you.
Both of those tests can be done online, but Thomas & Gallup offer various other written and spoken options too, so don’t get a shock if this comes up with either provider. Feeling comfortable and knowing what to expect can massively help your ability to fill the tests out accurately and as quickly as possible (which is also important!)
#4 Don’t Try and Beat the Test.
This comes back to point #1, and not underestimating what you’re getting into. To labour the point a bit more, the results of these tests can be used by employers as a prerequisite for a new hire. So, if your results don’t match with what they’re looking for, it’s a no. Therefore, the temptation could be to second guess what the employer will want to see, and then try and answer the test’s questions accordingly, to fit that imagined criteria.
This is a really bad idea.
You aren’t going to out think the test. Speaking from personal experience (I’ve done one) and seeing the results, the amount of insight they give is impressive. Changing your answers to try and give off a different impression will more than likely just lead to a garbled result, which will negatively influence the results and not communicate your attributes accurately.
Another reason not to try and fool the test is that, if the criteria the hiring manager is looking for isn’t met, the role may not be well suited to you. However easy it is to discredit the tests and pick holes in their results, they get a lot more right than wrong. If you fail the test, it could be a blessing in disguise in the long run as it could mean the company, culture, role or management style just isn’t a fit for you.
#5 If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them.
Until you take a real test in a real life situation, you don’t know how you’ll react. Practice tests can be great, and may help with your preparation, but there’s nothing like the real thing. One final suggestion to prepare for a test would be to just go out and do one, for real, yourself.
A novel approach (and not without expense) but imagine if you could enter the interview process knowing what your psychometric test results would look like. Obviously not for everyone, or to be used in every process, but if you could produce your own psychometric personality or leadership profile to a hiring manager, it would certainly gain you some attention, and could even nudge you up the list of preferred candidates. Or, (equally useful) if you bring out your personality profile and it’s nowhere near compatible, that could save everyone a lot of time too.
If you’ve got a test coming up, good luck. If it goes well, great – it could be the final criteria for you getting hired. If not, that may not be such a bad thing. A final piece of advice would be not to overthink it – make sure you’re as prepared as possible, know what you’re getting into and be honest with the test.
Even if you scoff at the thought of them, it might just work out well!
If you like the sound of point #5, then at Charlton Morris we partner with a leading provider of psychometric tests to our clients, which means that we are also able to provide them to candidates looking to get ahead too. If you could be interested, feel free to get in touch directly at email@example.com and we can direct to you to a relevant consultant!