Psychometric Tests

You have researched the position you applied for, and tailored your CV and cover letter to match what the employers requested. Everything was sent to them and now all that is left for you to do is wait.

Fast forward a few weeks later, you receive a call from Company X and they have informed you that your application has passed through the first stage. You are now one of the many candidates who are eligible for the next stage: psychometric testing. After asking them if there is anything specific that you should bring, which attributes they are looking for in the right applicant and thanking them, you hang up and think, “What is a psychometric test and how do I prepare for it?!”

1. What is it?

Nowadays, more and more employers in Brunei, both in the public and private sector, are using psychometric tests as part of their assessment processes to find the best person who will fit the position they are trying to fill. It is believed that results from psychometric testing can provide employers with candidates’ level of intelligence/aptitude and personality characteristics – degree of supervision, problem solving skills, whether you are team player or otherwise, etc.

For psychometric tests, you will be required to answer uniquely designed questions within a certain time limit where the results will be used to measure your abstract, verbal and numerical reasoning skills.

2. Preparation Tips

2.1 Identify the different types of psychometric test

This type usually contains multiple different sub-tests within a single test and is more commonly utilized for positions/roles which require critical independent thought. It primarily measures one’s cognitive ability and is usually used to find out a candidate’s personality and how s/he approaches certain problems as well as situations that can possibly occur in that particular line of work.

Employers can choose to implement this test in any of the recruitment stages. Regardless of which stage you have to sit for this test, just keep in mind to prepare by practicing as many sample tests as you can because passing it can help bring you much closer to getting selected by the employer/recruiter.

In SJTs, candidates are presented with realistic workplace situations and choices of how to handle or respond to them. For this type of test, candidates are required to pick the most likely action they would opt for in real life if they were to come across the situation or scenario presented in the question.

This test helps employers to “identify whether the individual is likely to react to trying situations in the most effective manner”. It is important to note that making effective decisions in response to certain situations is an important element in a variety of careers or professions. Thus this test, paired with one of the other types of tests, has become an increasingly popular method used by many companies in their sifting or selection procedures.

Practice makes perfect. One of the most effective methods to do well in this test is to take free practice tests which you can easily find online.

In psychology, research has shown that this type of test provides highly valid measurements of a person’s cognitive ability. Due to that, this test is frequently used as a selection tool by employers and is usually paired with other aptitude tests such as numerical reasoning and verbal reasoning tests.

The questions in Inductive Reasoning tests are composed with the aim to measure the “candidate’s ability to logically and rationally solve problems based on observed patterns.” How it works is that from a series of diagrams, the candidate must identify the pattern by figuring out the rule affecting the layout of the diagram and must do so within a given time frame.

In the recruitment selection process, Inductive Reasoning tests are usually conducted in one of three ways which depends on the employer and the position offered:

  1. Used as early screening tools to spot the top talents,
  2. Taken alongside an interview or just before an interview,
  3. Taken at an assessment centre alongside a variety of different exercises.

In Verbal Reasoning, each of the questions presents a short passage and candidates are required to answer a series of questions (usually in multiple choice format) related to the information presented in the passage. It is not always the case but some may require you to complete a personality questionnaire alongside the test.

Professionals in the field of psychology found that the results from this type of test can help predict an individual’s performance at work. Employers may utilize this method at different points:

  1. During the early stages, in order to identify top performing candidates,
  2. Either before or with the first screening interview,
  3. At an assessment centre, accompanied with other tests and exercises.

Like other tests that have already been utilized in Brunei, this test would probably be conducted with paper and pencil and with a set time limit. When practicing for this test, make sure that you time and train yourself to not dawdle too long on one question, as having unanswered questions may cost you your opportunity to proceed to the next stage.

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Another aptitude test that is considered a good predictor of job performance is the Numerical Reasoning test. The ability to understand, comprehend and draw logical conclusions from numerical data is seen as a valuable skill to have. This is especially true in a wide array of professions which require this skill, such as in research that has statistical data.

For this test, make sure that you have plenty of practice; there are many free tests online which you can take. Another important thing to keep in mind is that you are usually required to do the calculations with a calculator so do not forget to bring one on the day!

Similar to the previous two tests, Numerical Reasoning is usually done:

  1. 1. During the early stages, in order to identify top performing candidates,
  2. 2. Either before or with the first screening interview,
  3. 3. At an assessment centre, accompanied with other tests and exercises.

As you can probably tell from the name, the Big-Five Personality test is an assessment developed to better understand an individual’s personality by having the candidate’s personality type to be assessed based on the strength of five main characteristics, as seen in the acronym “OCEAN”:

  1. Openness: refers to how readily an individual will take on new experiences or acceptance of non-conventional ideas, levels of creativity and attentiveness to inner thoughts and feelings;
  2. Conscientiousness: applies to one’s attention to detail, vigilance, organization, as well as a desire to complete a task to the best of one’s abilities;
  3. Extraversion: refers to one’s assertiveness, preference/enjoyment of social interactions and settings as well as risk-taking;
  4. Agreeableness: relates to one’s tendency to be indicative of co-operation, kindness and empathy (consideration for others);
  5. Neuroticism: applies to one’s levels of anxiety, ability to deal with stress and maintaining one’s composure while under pressure.

According to the Psychometric Project,

“numerous psychological studies have provided support for the correlation between job performance and personality, with some suggesting that almost 30% of differences in performance ability are related to personality characteristics.”

Since the results are usually nearly accurate and allow an insight into whether the candidate is in possession of the qualities desirable for a specific post, this has become a popular test to be used by prospective employers and recruitment companies. Aside from that, this test can also be useful in one’s personal development as it helps to familiarize oneself with one’s qualities, strengths and weaknesses.

The questions in the interpersonal skills test are structured in a way that they will be able to isolate and evaluate five of the key personality traits associated with effective interpersonal skills, namely:

  1. Emotional Intelligence – “one’s ability to assess, identify, and manage the emotions of themselves and those around them.” Having this quality tells others that the individual is likely to consider the emotional needs of those around them in regard to matters such as decision making or team-based exercises.
  2. Team Working – looks at the extent of an individual’s willingness or ability to work with others as well as the efficient execution of the tasks given. Examples of good team work skills are supporting the ideas of others, while at the same time helping maintain productivity and a high level of overall performance.
  3. Empathy – the ability to recognize one’s and others’ current emotional state. Individuals with increased empathy are considered to be able to appreciate and understand how others may be affected by emotions or behaviours from specific subtle cues that can usually go unnoticed by those who are less empathic.
  4. Integrity – the consistency of one’s values, actions and truthfulness. Someone with high integrity could be seen as a trustworthy and fair-minded person as they would do their best to hold on to the values and principles that they believe in and would avoid anything that could contradict these beliefs.
  5. Social boldness – how one applies one’s confidence, assertiveness, and courage to a social context. Those with social boldness are usually able to express themselves freely and are unlikely to shy away from conflict and will assert themselves whenever they deem it necessary.

According to Bettina Lankard Brown, an author, educator, and researcher, career resilience is “the ability to adapt to changing circumstances, even when the circumstances are discouraging or disruptive” or “the result or outcome of being career self-reliant”. It is a quality or trait that is important to have, whether to those who are still looking for employment or are already working, and is highly sought by employers.

This is because resilience is considered a combination of strength and fluidity which allows us to adapt to new circumstances, while at the same time, learn and grow from them without compromising integrity. It is very important for one’s self-development to be able to keep up with changes and accept as well as learn from difficulties when we are presented with challenging situations.

Below are the characteristics which are evaluated in resilience questionnaires:

  1. Adaptability – the ability to accept changes in occupational situations while still working at a high level of performance;
  2. Self-Control – refers to the likelihood of an individual’s judgment or behaviour being affected by emotions or desires such as his/her ability to make rational decisions in the midst of a challenging situations;
  3. Self-Sufficiency – the ability to work with limited or no guidance or supervision to complete a task (working autonomously). Being able to do so signifies a confident and capable attitude when completing a task either in a team or individually;
  4. Optimism – one’s outlook in regards to certain events or circumstances can either be positive or negative. The ability to feel and project high optimism in any given situation will most likely promote a greater level of persistence during challenging tasks or circumstances;
  5. Persistence – the individual’s ability to overcome difficulties and is considered an indication of the willingness to work hard and offer additional effort when it is needed.

  1. Achievement Striving – one’s intrinsic motivation and efficiency in completing work such as having the motivation to set one's own deadline in achieving the recognized set of goals and using time effectively in order to progress further;
  2. Industriousness – seen as an indicator of levels of persistence and hardiness, to be able to overcome difficulties while remaining functional and working hard;
  3. Passion – the personal commitment and enthusiasm one has in achieving goals as well as the extent one will go to in order to get ahead.
  4. Taking Control – linked to how far the individual believes themselves to have control over a situation and its outcomes. For example, those with high levels of control are more likely to attribute successes to their own abilities as opposed to crediting luck and such.
  5. Creativity – refers to how one generates new ideas effectively as well as having the ability to revolutionize and build upon existing concepts to produce much more successful business models, a trait that is vital for entrepreneurs who wish to establish themselves within a niche market.

It is important to note that this test will give the individual an idea and understanding of the strengths that s/he has as well as the areas of his/her personality that require improvement. Whether you come across this test or not in your career journey, it is worth seeking out and taking as it can help you understand yourself and hopefully figure out which career path you would want to take.

The Leadership test is “a 50 item self-report psychometric test which aims to assess and evaluate specific personality characteristics that have been linked to successful leadership”. Answers are analyzed and presented with a short report of what each trait score implies about the candidates’ abilities. The said character traits are as follows:

  1. Organization – vital to those seeking a managerial or leadership role since it is concerned with structuring of tasks, time-keeping, preparedness and attention to detail, abilities needed for instructing or guiding a team;
  2. Responsibility – one’s ability to recognize and consider the need of other employees as well as his/her own needs and apply it to his/her decision making in order to ensure that everyone will work in a fair and well-balanced environment. It is also considered an indicator of accountability for one’s own mistakes instead of blaming others.
  3. Transformational Leadership – the ability to inspire and motivate employees as well as guide and mentor them, thus promoting an atmosphere of strong support in each other’s development.
  4. Assertiveness – actively pursuing desired objectives as well as having the ability to voice out opinions and ideas clearly and in a confident manner;
  5. Resourcefulness – a fundamental characteristic for any leader and refers to his/her ability to maintain calm, stay collected and to provide solutions for challenging situations effectively and efficiently.

This is perhaps one of the most important and helpful tests that one should take in an effort to better understand oneself. It was traditionally used in a clinical setting and nowadays by recruitment consultants and prospective employers.

The 16PF Test aims to evaluate personality in terms of traits and individual qualities, assessed on a scale among a range of aspects. It offers a range of information in regards to individual disposition which also makes it ideal for personal development within an occupational setting.

The following are the usual evaluated traits:

  1. Warmth – friendliness towards others;
  2. Reasoning – indicative of cognitive ability and intellect;
  3. Emotional stability – how one adapts under stress and whether they are easily upset;
  4. Dominance – levels of aggression, assertiveness and cooperation;
  5. Liveliness
  6. Rule-Consciousness – attitudes towards authority and likelihood of obedience;
  7. Social Boldness – refers to whether an individual is shy or outgoing;
  8. Sensitivity – whether one is compassionate and sympathetic to others or has the tendency to be more objective;
  9. Vigilance – how trusting, accepting, or suspicious the person may be around others;
  10. Abstractedness – whether one is imaginative or solution-oriented;
  11. Privateness – how forthright or non-disclosing an individual might be;
  12. Apprehension – whether one is self-assured or insecure;
  13. Openness to change;
  14. Self-Reliance – self-sufficient or group-oriented;
  15. Perfectionism – self-discipline and precision or impulsiveness;
  16. Tension – the likelihood of being time-driven or impatient instead of being relaxed and patient.

2.2 Practice

When it comes to practicing any of these tests, there are a couple of things that you need to ensure so that you can understand and learn them effectively. Here are some general and short tips to keep in mind:

  1. Practice while being in a good physical and mental state
  2. Research for the tests online
  3. Plan your time and set milestones
  4. Read the instructions and questions properly
  5. Read up and increase your English vocabulary

We hope that this section has helped you to understand more about psychometric testing, its uses, and which to refer to and practice for to either further develop yourself or your chances in your respective career journeys.

If you’d like to know more about psychometric tests and try out some free ones, please check out the Personality Profiling section.