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Feeling uneasy about psychometric testing?

When it comes to the executive interview process, it’s important to prepare for psychometric testing.

Psychometric testing allows prospective employers to gain insight into your personality, skills, aptitudes, strengths and weaknesses.

In this article, Executive Interview Coaching founder Richard Elstone explains how to prepare for psychometric testing and optimise your chances of landing your next executive role.

What is psychometric testing and what is it used for?

Psychometric tests measure skills and attributes relating to workplace performance.

There are cognitive-based psychometric tests that look at your verbal, numerical or abstract reasoning capabilities. There are also personality or work preferences tests that give employers an indication of your personality traits and work style or capacity to be part of a team.

Employers often use psychometric testing in addition to the information you provide in your resume and interviews to help them choose the right candidate for a role. 

“Testing should also give employers areas to explore in subsequent interviews or reference checks,” says Richard.

“If there a few candidates who are considered equal, then they’ll compare the three final candidates against each other, looking for similarities and also differences in style between those people.

“Hiring managers want to be sure that they’re hiring competent executives who will fit into their culture. Sometimes these tests also give the new hiring manager a clue about how to manage these people. “

The tests are usually conducted online and are normally timed.

Who does the testing?

Sometimes search firms conduct their own psychometric testing. However, quite often it’s outsourced to a psychologist who will do the testing on the search firm’s behalf, says Richard. A report is then provided to HR or to the search partner.

Do candidates get to see the results?

Unfortunately not. Richard says candidates rarely get to see the results.

Do all executives have to do a psychometric test?

According to Richard, more than half of executives have to do psychometric testing as part of the interview process.

“I would say that in more than 60% of cases, employers clients require psychometric testing,” he says.

At what point in the interview process do candidates do psychometric testing?

Normally after the second or third interview.

How can you prepare for psychometric testing?

Before you do any sort of testing, Richard recommends doing some online practice tests to help you understand the test structure and timing. A good option is

“There are a number of paid-for tests on the site,” he says. “They won’t be exactly the same as the testing you’re going for, but it gives people an opportunity to get back into the swing of doing testing and they can see what their results are.”

Richard says paying to do prep testing ultimately pays off, as it may lift scores by as much as 10% and inevitably help you land the executive role you want.

“It doesn’t sound like much, but in fact it is,” he says. “If you’re scoring 53% in verbal reasoning and you can get it above 61%, that’s a significant uplift. Not many people are great in every single area; we all have a weak area that we need to work on.”

Any other secret tips?

Richard says one piece of advice he always recommends to executive clients is to do some exercise before doing the testing.

 “Even a 20-minute vigorous walk can really fire up the neurons,” he says.

“If you have an opportunity to do exercise between each of the tests – say you do a verbal test, then a numerical test, then an abstract test – try to get some exercise between each one. 

“Apply the same strategy with personality or job preference testing. With these tests, try to put yourself in the frame of mind that you’ve had a good day at work, you’ve achieved some stuff and you’re happy, then answer the questions from that perspective.”

Richard says it’s a bad idea to do the tests at night when you’re tired. Rather aim to do them in the morning after some exercise.

Lastly, be sure to do some mental arithmetic exercises before getting started on the numerical testing. Some tests allow you to use a calculator, but you still need how to nut out the numbers. Try these examples:

  • If the cost of an item is $18,420 including GST, how much is the GST component?

  • If turnover is $2.1 million and it goes up at 7.28% compound over five years, what will it be in 10 years?

  • Apply a 25% discount to an item originally costing $1.328 million?

What if you flunk the psychometric tests?

Richard said had one executive level candidate with a first-class honours degree in finance who failed the numeric testing, so it does happen. That’s why it’s so important to practice beforehand!

“At the end of the day, ideally it should confirm the employer’s thoughts about who you are and why you may be a good fit,” says Richard.

“People hate doing them, but it’s better to face facts and be prepared.”

Know how else you can prepare?

Executive Interview Coaching offers a range of advice to help executives land their next executive appointment. 

Whether you’re looking for support with your resume, digital profiles or interview skills, we can help. Get in touch today!


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