Tactics of selection: the psychometric test

With ever increasing competition for the best undergraduates, companies are introducing ever more sophisticated techniques to identify the top candidates for their annual intake quotas. Employers are increasingly looking towards psychometric testing to assist in achieving the closet possible fit between their needs and the candidate’s qualities

Psychometric tests usually take the form of a series of anything from 100 to 600 multiple-choice questions, taking between 20 and 60 minutes to complete. The most commonly used are the occupational personality questionnaire (OPQ) and the 16 personality factor questionnaire (16PF).

These questionnaires will probe the candidate’s behavioral response to different situations. Many of the tests draw on the following distinctions: extroverted/introverted, tough minded/tender minded, conforming/creative, high structure/low structure, and confident/emotional.

Testing becomes ever more sophisticated
Over the years the tests have become more sophisticated, and allow employers to evaluate a candidate with a higher degree of accuracy. The technique is concerned with the candidate’s behavioral patterns, and takes into account the underlying characteristics of the individual, not the volume of work or experience acquired. This is why such tests are such a powerful tool in assessing undergraduates.

The test results of a prospective employee are compared to results of current successful employees, the duties and responsibilities set out in the job description, and predicted qualities or characteristics for future jobs in the company. Questions are distributed through the test to elicit a consistent pattern of answers.

The employer should emerge with a clearer appreciation of a candidate’s potential and how best to manage and develop the prospective employee.

How to think along the right lines 
To ensure that the test reflects one’s true potential, the candidate should think carefully about what personal qualities the test is designed to evaluate. The candidate should then work out which situations that they have experienced best highlight the relevant personality traits. Candidates should make a note of these situations for future reference.

It is important not to be drawn into exaggeration and remain positive. If a question invites a number of suitable answers, it is important to give the answer that first comes to mind.

The key point that a candidate needs to keep in mind is that the recruitment process is a sifting exercise for the employer. Candidates who are ultimately selected have had both their strengths and weaknesses assessed and matched against the company’s hiring criteria and standards.

And if a candidate is successful at the psychometric testing stage, the information will be used during the interview process.


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