THE 411: PSYCHOMETRIC TESTS FOR STUDENTS AND GRADUATES
These days, with more and more students and graduates applying for internships and jobs, it can be difficult to find entry-level employment in a chosen field. If you're thinking about applying for internships or graduate positions then you need to make sure that you're familiar with the application process in order to maximise your chances of being made a job offer.
Why do employers love psychometric tests?
Once you've sent off your CV, or filled in an online application, almost every company today will require you to complete a series of online psychometric tests before you go any further in the application process.
There are a couple of reasons why employers are so keen on psychometric tests. Firstly, it's a preliminary assessment that the applicant actually has the core skills that they're looking for. The other reason is that, simply, psychometric tests are a cost and time-efficient method of shortening the field and reducing the number of candidates that they'll need to take the time to interview.
There is a huge variety of psychometric tests; designed to measure all different types of skills and abilities. Tests might be strictly numerical, or might be focused more on your personality, or logical reasoning ability. In most companies' applications you'll face a combination of at least two types of tests that are specific to the skills that they seek in potential employees, so it will save you a lot of stress if you familiarise yourself with the tests before you receive an email from the company's HR that invites you to take the test within 24 hours.
Remember your times tables?
Companies in the financial services industry, such as the Big 4 or banks, will all be looking for candidates with solid numerical skills – so be prepared to complete at least one numerical test before even speaking with anybody from the company.
However, don't assume that just because the job involves working with numbers that you simply need to brush up on your maths skills – most large organisations will also ask you to sit a situational judgement test to gauge how well you fit their company values and ethos. SJT's will present you with a series of fictional, but realistic, workplace scenarios and ask you to resolve them. These scenarios might involve disagreements between colleagues, supervisor-worker situations or other potential workplace conflicts. Different companies will be testing for specific traits and aptitudes, in order to fit their organisation's culture.You can practice situational judgement tests here.
Once you pass the judgement test, you’ll be sent an invitation to complete at least one further psychometric test. Applicants in the fields of professional and financial services will need to complete a timed numerical test, and quite likely a verbal test too. Numerical reasoning tests are designed to assess your maths skills.
Numerical reasoning tests will present you with a series of graphs and tables and ask you to extract information from them. The level of maths involved doesn't go beyond school level (they tend to focus on ratios, percentages, averages and other basic statistical information), but an amazing amount of candidates fail these tests, simply by not practicing beforehand and not being read for the style and format of the tests – which are always against the clock.
As an example, the Barclays numerical test requires applicants to answer 35 questions in 35 minutes. You can save valuable time, and avoid stress, by being familiar with the type of questions that are asked, and the way that the tests are formatted. Get practice numerical reasoning tests here.
Pick up a book
While applicants will need to do well on numerical tests, companies will be especially willing to reject your application if you can't demonstrate strong verbal reasoning skills. The verbal tests are designed to examine your ability to understand, interpret and analyse written information. You'll be asked to read a text and either choose which series of inferences or assumptions are possible to make from the text, or you might need to make true/false/cannot say statements.
Verbal tests come up in applications across virtually every industry, as there are very few jobs that won't involve having to read and interpret information. It's crucial that you practice these tests beforehand, in order to adapt to quickly reading and interpreting information under time pressure. Get practice verbal reasoning tests here.
Practice makes perfect…psychometric scores
While this is just an overview of the psychometric testing used by companies in their recruitment process, the bottom line is that, no matter which field you’re applying for, at some point you’ll be required to pass a psychometric test, and our experience is that people who practice beforehand can significantly improve their performance. The myth that you can’t prepare for these tests and that you should “just turn up and do your best” is, quite frankly, wrong.
Candidates who spend time preparing for psychometric tests are familiar with both the content and format of the tests, and perform better than they would have done with no preparation. In some firms’ recruitment processes as many as 40% of applicants will be disregarded due to their performance on psychometric testing. So if you’re in the process of applying for jobs or internships, then now is the time to start practicing aptitude tests!
JobTestPrep are the leading providers of psychometric test practice resources in the UK. Having helped tens of thousands of candidates improve their test performance for over a decade, they offer unique and tailored prep products for a variety of job types.