Mind Games

As psychometric testing becomes more popular, here are some tips for before, during and after the process.

Psychometric assessments are being increasingly used by organisations at the selection stage of the recruitment process to help them select the best candidate for the role and for the organisation.

These assessments often include personality and cognitive assessments. The cognitive assessments will indicate how well a candidate will deal with the intellectual challenges of the role whereas the personality assessments can give a good insight into how a candidate will interact with others and how they prefer to work.

People often find this a daunting process but upon completion, most find that it has been both interesting and insightful, and a valuable experience for them overall. Here are some tips to help you prepare.

Before the assessment

Find out how long the appointment will take and make sure you give yourself ample time. Remember, this entire process is part of your interview, so conduct yourself accordingly – dress smartly, make your appointment promptly and don’t be late. Be friendly and polite towards everyone you meet as these factors may also be taken into consideration, particularly if personality profiling is part of your assessment.

Sleep well the night before the assessment. Many companies try to avoid testing candidates late in the afternoon, and for good reason. People perform better when they are rested and more alert, so try to schedule your appointment in the morning or as early as possible in the afternoon.

During the assessment

If you don’t understand the instructions or examples, ask for clarification. It might sound obvious, but it is vital that you understand both before beginning the assessment.

Take a break between tests if possible. If one isn’t offered, then ask – performance generally begins to deteriorate after 50-60 minutes. Taking a break after 40 minutes can reverse this trend. So don’t be afraid to ask for a short break – it will improve your performance.

If you are doing cognitive assessments online, do them in a place where you won’t be disturbed. Generally speaking, these assessments will be strictly timed and it will not be possible to “pause” the test and return at a later time.

Don’t worry if you feel that you’ve performed badly on an assessment. It’s difficult to gauge how well you’ve done. Also, most of the tests are designed so that only 1-2% of people can actually answer all questions. Set it aside and move on to the next one.

For personality assessments, the key is to answer honestly. Give the first answer that comes to mind and don’t over-think it. Don’t give answers you think are desirable, but may be untrue. There are social desirability scales built into the assessments and it will show if you do this. More importantly, if you’re not going to be suited to the role or organisation, then you’ll have had a lucky escape.

After the assessment

Ask for feedback. Sometimes it will be offered but if it isn’t, ask if it’s possible to get feedback. In some cases, there will be a report written on your results and sent to the company. Ask if you may have a copy of this when the process is complete. Whether or not you get the job, it will be a useful and insightful thing to have, and could help highlight areas for future development.

The author, Jayne Lee, is a Chartered Organisational Psychologist at Davitt Corporate Partners.

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