Psychometric Testing, Preparing for

Psychometric Testing, Preparing for
By Allen Recruitment Consulting

In the intensifying competition for talent, the choice of person an employer hires becomes increasingly important.

Companies are introducing ever more sophisticated techniques to identify the top candidates for their annual intake quotas. Employers are increasingly looking towards psychometric testing to assist in achieving the closet possible fit between their needs and the candidate's qualities.

Personality profiling is being adopted as a more scientific, efficient and fairer way of spotting, recruiting and bringing on talent. But what's in it for the individual? Why trust such a process?

Trust turns on three key elements: you believe what you're being told is true, you believe that your interests are in safe hands, and you believe that what you trust can deliver.

Personality profiling aims at a certain kind of truth, but doesn't pretend to capture your character permanently or completely. Tests are deliberately designed not to imply that you are inherently good or bad, or necessarily one thing or another - but to identify trends and preferences in behaviour, especially in a work environment.

Most people are mistrustful of systems that they cannot control, especially those that try to sum up their personalities. But they might accept the insight that a properly devised personality test gives, if it helps them to make better informed career decisions and deal more effectively with people and situations.

There is no point interpreting any results as a final judgment of your character. Only as an extrapolation of ways you will tend to behave under certain conditions, depending on your answers. So the more subtle the test and the more you take it seriously, the more insight it will deliver.

It's about being business-like in making an assessment about whether you and the company, or you and the job fit. How you feel about different people and situations is very important, but this process allows you to think through the implications of your type of personality even before you encounter a particular scenario. Approached in this spirit, personality tests can be fun as well as insightful.

Knowing yourself gives you and employers a currency to work with. Like any currency, it allows you to trade - in this case, information about yourself and even more usefully, information about you in relation to others.

If there is an aspect of your personality you hadn't fully thought about, or couldn't quite understand, instead of learning the hard way through a painful confrontation you then regret, you can short circuit the experience and be better able to deal with certain situations. Such knowledge can never be a substitute for firsthand experience, but it does give you a greater awareness and understanding, a chance to communicate better, handle conflict and deal with priorities.

Above all, it gives you and your interviewers a common language that is useful for dealing with what most people understand only too well: everybody is different.

Psychometric tests usually take the form of a series of anything from 100 to 600 multiple-choice questions, taking between 20 and 60 minutes to complete. The most commonly used are the occupational personality questionnaire (OPQ) and the 16 personality factor questionnaire (16PF).

These questionnaires will probe the candidate's behavioral response to different situations. Many of the tests draw on the following distinctions: extroverted/introverted, tough minded/tender minded, conforming/creative, high structure/low structure, and confident/emotional.

Testing becomes ever more sophisticated
Over the years the tests have become more sophisticated, and allow employers to evaluate a candidate with a higher degree of accuracy. The technique is concerned with the candidate's behavioral patterns, and takes into account the underlying characteristics of the individual, not the volume of work or experience acquired. This is why such tests are such a powerful tool in assessing prospective employees.

The test results of a prospective employee are compared to results of current successful employees, the duties and responsibilities set out in the job description, and predicted qualities or characteristics for future jobs in the company. Questions are distributed through the test to elicit a consistent pattern of answers.

The employer should emerge with a clearer appreciation of a candidate's potential and how best to manage and develop the prospective employee.

How to think along the right lines
To ensure that the test reflects one's true potential, the candidate should think carefully about what personal qualities the test is designed to evaluate. The candidate should then work out which situations that they have experienced best highlight the relevant personality traits. Candidates should make a note of these situations for future reference.

It is important not to be drawn into exaggeration and remain positive. If a question invites a number of suitable answers, it is important to give the answer that first comes to mind.

The key point that a candidate needs to keep in mind is that the recruitment process is a sifting exercise for the employer. Candidates who are ultimately selected have had both their strengths and weaknesses assessed and matched against the company's hiring criteria and standards.

And if a candidate is successful at the psychometric testing stage, the information will be used during the interview process.

Published with the kind premission of Allen Recruitment Consulting

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