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February 17, 2022, by Leah Sharpe

Surviving Psychometric Tests

By Christian Jameson-Warren, Employability Education Projects Officer

When I hear the word ‘test’, I immediately think ‘pass’ and ‘fail’. Actually, mostly ‘fail’. With some pressure to not even pass, to just ‘not fail’. To avoid failure. To avoid being not good enough. Might sound a little dramatic, but from my conversations with students I don’t think I’m the only person who thinks this.

As human beings, we’re hardwired to crave feeling connected with others – and if we’re being honest, a lot of what we do in our daily lives is to avoid feeling judged and rejected by people. So personally, I believe that a lot of the worry that people have about applying for jobs stems from this innate fear of rejection – including psychometric tests. On some level we fear that by ‘failing’ the test, we’re being rejected by the organisation. They’ve deemed us not good enough. We may also fear that others will judge us, such as peers or family. Feeling rejected really hurts sometimes.

So sometimes, it’s normal to feel that psychometric tests are daunting, especially if there are other factors, for example:

– You’ve had a negative experience(s) with tests or exams in the past

– You feel that the tests target your weaknesses, such as ‘I’m not very good at maths’

– You put pressure on yourself because it’s a role that you really want, or you worry that you’re not ‘good enough’ if you don’t get this type of job

Plus, if you don’t have much experience of psychometric tests, the unknown element naturally can add to your worries.

However, there are of course things you can do to improve your confidence and skills:

1. The resources on our website which includes practise tests that give detailed feedback. This is beneficial because, firstly, you may surprise yourself with what you’ve done well at, and secondly, it gives you some very specific areas to focus on if you wish to improve, which is a lot more manageable than a general feeling of overwhelm. In addition, the more you practise, the more familiar you’ll become with how tests work, removing some of the uncertainty that contributes to worry.

There’s also information on our website for students with a disability that might affect their ability to do the tests.

2. Familiarise yourself with what attributes the organisation you’re applying to are asking for in the job description, such as organisation, teamwork, effective communication. While tests like situational judgement are designed so that you can’t ‘game’ the system by putting what you think is the answer the company are looking for instead of your honest answer, having a better understanding of what the employer is looking for can help focus your mind.

3. It sounds cliched, but take time to read the questions properly. Don’t just rush into analysing a situation or the data. In pressured situations, it’s easy to accidentally answer the question we think there is, and not the question there actually is. It may help to quickly write down two to three keywords from the questions to focus your mind.

4. Remember that these tests are tailored to individual organisations. So, if you don’t pass a test for a particular company, sometimes it just means it wasn’t the right thing for you at this time – especially if there were situational judgement assessments involved. It’s not the organisation rejecting you personally. It also doesn’t mean that you’re terrible at psychometric tests, you probably just need to practise a particular aspect more for next time.

For more advice and guidance on psychometric tests, plus access to free practise tests as a UoN student or graduate, visit our website.

Posted in Career wellbeingCareers Advice