A guide to psychometric and aptitude testing…by Accountancy Ireland & Barden (Career Guide 2017)

Don’t be afraid of psychometric or aptitude testing. If you’re right for the role, your skills and temperament will shine through.

It’s becoming increasingly common for companies to include testing as part of the interview process to see if the person has the necessary skills, ability and personality traits for the position and the company. Companies often put a significant weighting on testing and use it as a yes/no tool, so it’s important to take it seriously. In general, large and multinational companies are more likely to use testing as part of their interview process than smaller companies. The testing process can come in a variety of forms but, generally speaking, the most common is psychometric and aptitude testing. They are also carried out in various formats, including assessment centres, discussions, case studies and specific testing. The following outlines each test type and shows you how to prepare.

Psychometric testing

This particular test assesses your personality traits and qualities. Firstly, there are no right or wrong answers. Typical questions include: “Which are you most and least like of the following four – happy, friendly, fun, caring?” It can be hard to answer something like this, but just go with your gut and don’t over-think it. The same type of question will likely be asked in a few different ways, so don’t try to beat the test (there is a mechanism built in to detect this type of activity). Just take each question in isolation and be as honest as possible.

Aptitude testing

Aptitude testing is commonly used to assess your verbal, numerical and/or spatial reasoning skills.

Verbal reasoning tests are designed to measure your ability to understand written information and to evaluate arguments about this information. You’re typically given a paragraph of text and asked: “Which of the following best describes the writer’s view on this topic?”

Numerical reasoning tests are designed to assess your understanding of tables of statistical and numerical data, as well as your ability to make logical deductions. It’s basic maths and logic with the odd curve ball thrown in. This is the test people typically fear the most.

Spatial reasoning tests are designed to assess your ability to visualise spatial objects. For example, you might be given a sample shape and a number of different shapes and asked which fits best with the sample shape. This is less common in testing for finance roles, but it’s still used by some companies.

The aptitude tests get gradually harder as you go through, but don’t fret if you can’t work out one question. Give it 60 seconds or so and your best answer, and then move on. Also, people don’t always finish the test in full. Just do the best you can and go from there.

Preparation

When preparing for a test, complete mock questions our website here, but bear in mind that these sample questions may be harder/easier than the ones you’re presented with on the day. Use these sample tests as a form of reference more than anything. And in spite of the above, a good night’s sleep, a few crosswords or a bit of Sudoku (just to get you focused) is as good a prep as any. Look at testing as a means of helping you find the right company and job for you. If you have the right attributes, this will come through and you’ll more than likely be happy and successful in the job. If you’re unsuccessful, you should also ask for feedback after the testing process, as this may help you find the right job/company in future. You could also consider paying to do a test yourself, just to help you discover your skills and traits and thereby inform your job search.

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