Psychometric tests are used to measure suitability of a candidate for a specific job or academic course. Some organizations also use them for transparency and accountability in decision-making on various aspects of career development for example in promoting individuals to a higher job rung or assessing training needs. The leading companies in financial, transport, energy and engineering businesses employ these tests in searching for talent, underscoring the prominence that these tests have assumed globally. Examples of these groups include Deutsche bank, Deloitte, Fidelity, EDF Energy, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, Jaguar Land Rover, ICAP, Kimberly Clark, Johnson and Johnson, and KPMG, to name a few big employers.
Since these candidates are usually considered for specialized skills, the aptitude tests are tailored to the job requirements. The most common abilities measured are the verbal, numerical, and abstract reasoning abilities or aptitudes.
It measures candidate’s ability to understand verbal description or arguments according to their meaning and draw conclusions. The examination involves reading a passage, and then answering a series of multiple choice questions with “True”, “False”, or “Don’t Know”, based on the information contained in the passage. “Don’t Know” implies that further information is needed to choose the correct answer. A verbal comprehension test (http://www.verbalreasoningtest.org/) focuses more on spelling, grammar, and syntax. It is therefore important that a candidate understands the language in which, a verbal test is offered.
Numerical reasoning tests
It evaluates a candidate’s numerical acumen using facts and figures presented in data tables or graphs. Candidates are assessed for their knowledge of ratios, percentage, costs analyses, trends, currency conversion, etc. Their focus is anchored on the fact that organizations always monitor their performance and need timely decisions as to whether they should change tact through increasing, decreasing or maintaining current practices for optimum productivity, efficiency and minimal losses. What do these graphs tell us? What is the logic behind some number series? Speed and accuracy are important in all the psychometric tests, most users identify numerical reasoning as particularly demanding. Developers of aptitude tests preparation packages such as Graduate Monkey with their premium Aptutorial technique- have therefore identified various strategies, tips and shortcuts that candidates can employ to do the real tests in the shortest time. A key advantage of numerical tests is that unlike the Verbal tests which require deeper comprehension of language, mathematical symbols are universal and can be done with basic understanding of test instructions.
It is also known as the conceptual reasoning test where, it only needs one to observe a range of diagrams/symbols, identify an emergent pattern and based on this, predict what the next pattern would be. It is based on logic and does not exert language demands on the candidates.
Abstract reasoning test tutorial offered by Graduate Monkey is really a good source to strengthen your skills because it uses different diagrams, shapes and symbols to enable test takers determine their intelligence. They have to compare different images in order to find the logic behind their creation and then have to give their solution. Just because of these features, Abstract reasoning test is also referred to as Non-verbal reasoning, logical reasoning or inductive reasoning test.
Formats of Psychometric tests
Aptitude tests come with different levels of difficulty depending on the education/knowledge of an individual in the organization e.g. a senior management level would have to take more advanced test compared to a junior, clerical officer. Common formats are SHL, Kenexa, Saville, TalentLens, Cubiks and TalentQ. The key difference in the formats is based on the fact that some test for only one ability e.g. numeric while other combine the tests.
A document providing an overview of SHL tests summarizes the range of tests according to organizational roles (http://ceb.shl.com/assets/SHL_Overview_of_Ability_Tests.pdf). These tests are offered to (in ascending order) Semi-skilled, Technical staff, Administrative and clerical staff, information technology, sales, customer and call centre, Junior managers and supervisors, managers, professionals and graduates and finally, directors and senior managers. The tests offered include Work Skills series- (Transport and production, manual dexterity and finger dexterity); applied technology series, personnel test battery, Customer Contact Aptitude, Critical Reasoning, Management and Graduate item bank and Advanced managerial tests. SHL offers all the aforementioned abilities (verbal, abstract and numerical reasoning abilities). Different tests may combine evaluation of these abilities, so for example, the Advanced Managerial Test (senior managers) evaluates only verbal and numerical skills, and is offered only online. On the other hand, the Critical Reasoning Test Battery (junior managers and supervisors) test is used for all the 3 abilities. Semi-skilled workers do have some tests offered as pencil and paper formats. Kenexa tests also evaluate verbal, cognitive and inductive reasoning skills.
Saville reasoning test
This is a package developed by Saville consultants, containing different tests that broadly measure comprehension and technical analysis. In addition to the tests highlighted in SHL section, Saville also includes a technical aptitude test package that contains spatial, mechanical and diagrammatic reasoning.
It measures an individual’s capabilities using 4 key dimensions which are crucial to improve organizational performance. These are critical thinking, problem-solving, collaborator and team playing. Critical thinking is appraised using the RED model. A critical thinker will therefore Recognize assumptions in any situation, Evaluate arguments, and Draw solutions (the bold letters form RED). Critical thinking (http://us.talentlens.com/online-testing) is one of the strongest predictors of job success and overall performance. Problem solving skills are analyzed using Raven’s Progressive Matrices (http://www.raventest.net/). They assess professionals abilities of individuals, “including advanced observation and clear-thinking skills, efficient problem solving, abstract reasoning, and the ability to learn”. Collaborator and team playing skills measure one’s personality and key motivation aspects that enable individuals to fit into their job roles as well as organization’s culture.
It is an international assessment and development consultancy (http://www.cubiks.com/), with great importance throughout Europe, the United Arabs Emirates, Malaysia and the USA. They pride themselves in offering “culturally sensitive, competency-driven business psychological solutions in over 30 languages”. Here, three broad test formats are offered: Reasoning for Business ability tests (RfB series) these test Verbal Reasoning, Numerical Reasoning, and Diagrammatic Reasoning and assessments have been designed for two key levels of applications; Managerial & Graduate and Business Support. The RfB suite includes supervised and unsupervised versions and assessments are available in many languages.
The Problem-Solving test series has been designed to assess how quickly and accurately an individual can solve new problems. It, however, only tests one’s ability to solve numerical and verbal problems. Verbal questions assess knowledge Antonyms (candidates have to choose which word from a group of five has the opposite meaning to another word); Deviation from category (one must decide which one of five words has a different meaning from the others); pair of concepts (Do two words considered have the same meaning, the opposite meaning, or neither the same nor the opposite meaning?); Verbal analogy (the candidate has to decide whether the underlying meaning or idea in two statements is the same, the opposite, or neither the same nor the opposite). Finally, Logical reasoning involves the participant deciding whether three considered statements have correct/incorrect logics).
Numerical problems on the other hand cover a series of numbers, simple calculations and complex calculations. In some situations, companies will choose to test clients more than once, and for this reason,
The last test, Logiks General, is an online test that measures an individual’s general cognitive ability. This twelve minute assessment measures a participant’s ability to solve verbal, numerical and abstract problems.
Talent Q is yet another consultancy firm that prides itself with over 50 countries’ coverage and has a huge network of clientele companies such as Virgin Atlantic, Royal Mail Groupo, JT Global, Lloyds Banking Group, Ford, and AstraZeneca. Graduate Monkey can even help you in successfully applying for any of such companies. All you have to do is to take this exam.
It focuses on 4 key broad aspects: “personality and motivation”; “Ability”; “Competency-based sifting” and “360-degree feedback”. Personality and motivation tests (https://www.trytalentq.com/) measure an individual’s behavioral preference at work, with a focus on “how staff prefer to manage relationships with others, their approach to work and their sources of energy and motivation”. This is captured through “Dimensions”. Drives, on the other hand, is an online questionnaire focusing on individual’s values and motivations in the work place, and focuses on factors that “stimulate and energize individuals in their daily working lives” (https://www.talentqgroup.com/assessments/).
Ability is measured with the help of two tests: “Aspects ability” and “Elements”. Aspects ability measures verbal, numerical and checking skills and is useful for recruiting frontline, customer service and sales staff. On the other hand, “Elements” measure verbal, numerical and logical reasoning and is suitable primarily for graduate, professional, managerial and executive level roles.
Competency-based sifting measures behavioral preferences at work in relation to the most relevant competencies for the job, through “aspects styles”. Lastly, 360-degree feedback is a “MultiView (http://m.mcn.com.au/multiview/)”, competency-based feedback questionnaire that identifies strengths and development needs of employees. It aims to facilitate performance improvement.
Psychometric interviews can be done in different ways, depending on how the tests are designed. Some tests can only be done online while others are pen and paper based. This, therefore, means that in some instances, one can get instant feedback on performance while in others, candidates have to wait for their results. Requirements differ too- whereas some tests allow use of tools such as calculators, in others, these are prohibited. Since they are primarily meant to objectively identify the most suitable candidates from many competitors, these tests usually give lesser time to answer all of the questions and some candidates complained about this factor. Optimum conditions for gauging one’s prowess are set during this examination- quiet, well lighted rooms and clear instructions to avoid ambiguity. Overall it is assumed that candidates sitting in these tests are in good health. The evaluators have the discretion to define a pass mark, and in some instances, use other criteria when none of the candidates achieve the set threshold. Numerous sites such as Graduate Monkey, SHL online and Psychometric institute have developed resources that applicants of aptitude tests can use to prepare for the real test. Some packages are accessed at a fee e.g. £19 while others are offered free of charge.