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What is psychometric testing in recruitment

October 21, 2020

Job seekers are accustomed to complicated recruitment processes when the stakes are high. When you’re applying for your dream role, a multiple-round interview is to be expected. Tasks and assignments are also to be expected for certain roles.

But there are some things that cannot be uncovered by asking questions. And even if candidates reveal these things, not many people are trained to be able to pick up on them. This is when psychometric testing can be helpful.

Psychometric testing is not used by everyone, but those who do use it believe it to be a highly effective way to learn more about a candidate. A psychometric test is not something that you can fail. There are no right or wrong answers, it’s just a chance to let a potential employer know more about who you are as a person and what motivates you.

What is psychometric testing?

what is psychometric testing

Psychometric testing is a type of questionnaire that helps recruiters and employers to understand more about the psychology of their applicants. Although not an exact science, it’s possible to group people together based on different traits. This can make it possible for employers to understand how employees will fit into a team and how they will respond to certain situations.

When interviewing candidates, it’s difficult to achieve unbiased and objective opinions about individuals. Every recruiter and interviewer will bring their own perceptions and biases to the table. Psychometric testing can help to give employers a more complete understanding of the candidate. In a close race, psychometric testing could help to make a decision between two highly qualified candidates.

Psychometric testing isn’t something that candidates need to prepare for or worry about. As we’ve mentioned above, there are no right or wrong answers. It isn’t to test your knowledge of a topic, it is to explore how your brain works. It can help employers to build better teams that will have a better chance of working well together. For this reason, it can be seen as a money-saving measure for employers, as it can help them to avoid hiring people who aren’t a good fit.

What traits are employers testing?

What traits are employers testing?

As mentioned, a psychometric test isn’t a test of your intellect or ability. Instead, it is an attempt to better understand you as a person. A psychometric test might reveal things about you that you have never understood or thought about before.

A test will typically explore things like critical thinking, verbal reasoning and numerical reasoning. So while it may feel like an aptitude test, it’s really more about understanding how you respond to different situations.

Companies rarely start the interview process with a psychometric test. This stage is typically reserved for a later stage in the interview process when the candidate has already met all of the other requirements. It can also help to reveal when people are stretching the truth about their motivations. For example, if you repeatedly state that you are an outgoing person, your psychometric testing may say otherwise.

The most common psychometric tests used in recruitment are:

  • The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
  • Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument Assessment
  • Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire
  • Situational Judgement Test

What kind of companies use this method of testing?

It is typically larger companies that will employ this type of testing, but small startups keen to create the right business culture may also explore this methodology. Around 75% of Times Top 100 companies in the UK use psychometric testing to help inform hiring decisions.

Companies that use psychometric testing in a responsible way should always offer feedback following the test. Some companies use free online tests as a way to weed out job applicants. This can be risky and may alienate some of the brightest candidates. Understanding the interpreting the results requires training, so it isn’t as simple as deciding that you only want to hire INTP types from a free Myers-Briggs online test, for example.

You should always be informed in advance if there will be a psychometric test, but some organisations like to spring this on applicants. You can check a site like Glassdoor to find out if a company is likely to use psychometric testing so that you can prepare in advance.

How can I prepare for psychometric testing?

How can I prepare for psychometric testing?

As we mentioned above, it isn’t really possible to “ace” a psychometric test. You won’t be able to score 100%, so don’t even worry about getting top marks. Instead, the psychometric test will reveal your strengths and weaknesses. In some cases, you might not even be aware of these personality traits.

Instead of trying to “study” for this type of test, you should instead take the time to become familiar with the setup. This can help you to perform better in a psychometric test and give a more accurate reading. Nerves can get the better of us in a test environment, and this can lead you to deliver answers and a performance that is completely out of character.

The best way to prepare is to take a few online tests to get to know how they work and what is expected. We are an engineering and technical recruiter, so we would advise our applicants to practice numerical reasoning tests. In a communications role, it would make more sense for applicants to practice their verbal reasoning tests.

Tests that explore personality traits are more generalised and can be useful to any applicant to explore. You might even be interested to learn what personality type you are. By taking this type of practice test, you will get to know the type of questions asked and how to approach them.

It’s also helpful to practice tests so that you can get used to reading the instructions and operating the questionnaire. Reading the instructions at the start of the test is vital, as this will hold important clues about things like the time limit, how to answer questions, and what to do if you want to skip a question. 

Can anyone offer psychometric testing?

Can anyone offer psychometric testing

No, only trained professionals should offer psychometric tests. While there are free tests online, these are not the same as one administered by a specially trained individual. A free online test might be great for practice, but it won’t give you an accurate view of what a psychometric test is really supposed to measure.

Interpreting the results requires training, and an untrained eye might jump to conclusions that aren’t really there. This is why it is an often contested part of the recruitment process. Since companies are able to find psychometric tests online, they may administer them without adequate training.

A far more effective type of test in this situation would be an aptitude test for a specific role. This will ask multiple-choice questions with a right or wrong answer. This is much easier to interpret than a psychometric test. Companies thinking about testing should either consult with a professional, work with a recruitment agency, or create their own quiz to test aptitude.

What happens after a psychometric test?

What happens after a psychometric test?

After you have taken a psychometric test, the facilitator should provide feedback on the findings. If the test has been used to make a hiring decision, it is often helpful to the person who didn’t make the cut to have some feedback on their performance. When there are no right or wrong answers, it can be difficult to accept the outcome of the test is the reason you didn’t get a role. Talking this through with the candidate will clear up any misunderstanding.

A test can reveal strengths and weaknesses that the candidate might not be aware of. This is why feedback should be handled with care. It can be difficult to hear that a test has shown you aren’t good at something you had previously believed yourself to be good at. Candidates might be upset with this news.

Likewise, you might be able to tell a candidate that they shine in a particular area. This could help to shape their future job search and even change their career path entirely. If a candidate does not make the cut, it can be helpful to provide feedback from their psychometric test alongside feedback from the rest of the interview process. This can help candidates to understand the decision process and allow them to move forward with their search with confidence.

Are psychometric tests only used for interviews?

Are psychometric tests only used for interviews?

No, some companies like to introduce psychometric testing to help refine teams, resolve conflict and make their operations more efficient. This might mean that psychometric testing is introduced at any stage in an employment contract. If a worker has been in the same role for a long time, a psychometric test might reveal that they would be well suited to another area of the business.

Psychometric tests can also be used to ensure teams are working as efficiently as possible. If there is conflict within a team, psychometric testing may be used to uncover any potential personality conflicts. While not an exact science, it can be used to explore ways to restructure teams for success. 

In some cases, psychometric tests have been used to determine which employees to let go. But be warned before heading into this territory. If the methodology is suspect and an employee has reason to believe that they were discriminated against or unfairly dismissed, you could face an employment tribunal.

Instead of using psychometric is a negative thing to identify weakness, it should be used as a positive thing to identify strengths. This will help to ensure you stay on the right side of the law. 

Does psychometric testing add value?

Does psychometric testing add value

Anyone interested in psychology will say that it absolutely adds value. When making hiring decisions, it’s helpful to have as much information as possible. Offering psychometric testing also lets candidates know that you value your employees. 

When used correctly, psychometric testing can help to build happier and more effective teams. By choosing candidates that you are confident will work well together, you can also increase employee retention and make your business a more pleasant place to work.

Psychometric testing also offers the chance for candidates to learn more about their own strengths and weaknesses. It’s possible that workers can be completely unaware of where their true strengths lie. This might lead them to follow a career that will never allow them to reach their fullest potential. 

Psychometric testing can also help to reduce recruitment expenses. When you hire the right person the first time, you won’t have to go through the process again three months down the line when the first candidate doesn’t pass the probationary period. This can save on recruitment, training and help to boost productivity. 

It can also help you to build more effective teams. Two people who might be opposites in their outward personality could be highly compatible in their psychometric testing. When you remove the personal biases that get in the way of decision making, you can unlock hidden potential in your company.

What are the limitations of psychometric testing?

What are the limitations of psychometric testing?

There are a few limitations to keep in mind when carrying out psychometric testing. To start, there is the chance that a candidate will resist the notion that they can be categorised and simply answer the questions randomly. This might offer skewed results, but it could also raise a false positive. If they just happen to land in the category of applicant you are looking for, you could make a decision based on incomplete information. This is why psychometric testing should only be used as part of the bigger picture.

When offered at the interview stage, candidates may also focus on providing the answers they think employers want to hear. This can skew the results and leave you with incomplete information. Instead of telling you who they are, they have told you who they think you want them to be. This is why psychometric testing should be interpreted by a trained professional. This will help to spot any inconsistencies in answers and may encourage individuals to submit more open and honest answers.


Psychometric testing is a useful recruitment tool used by many top companies. When used correctly, it can help to inform HR decisions to help build better teams. However, there are limitations to the testing and these should always be taken into consideration.


October 21, 2020

Who Are We?

Nolan Recruitment is a Specialist Engineering Recruitment Agency. One of the UK's best Engineering & Technical Recruiter
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