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If you find the prospect of psychometric tests daunting, then you're certainly not alone. Very few people look forward to these, however, with 70% of large employers now using some form of psychometric testing, they are becoming increasingly tricky to avoid. Psychometric tests are a standard and scientific method used to measure individuals' mental capabilities, and behavioural and working style. Therefore, it’s important to answer the questions as honestly as you can.
The good news is that there's plenty you can do to effectively prepare, starting with some simple strategies and a few useful techniques.
Psychometric tests come in all shapes and sizes. One of your first tasks is to visit the careers section of the employer's website to see whether they offer guidance on the kinds of tests they use or the firm supplying them. You could also send a polite email to HR requesting this information.
You can also find examples of psychometric testing online which you can use to practise. Here are some websites that offer sample tests:
Hopefully you'll be directed to online examples of what you'll be facing. Try to do an entire test from start to finish in 'real time' You can resit these tests so you can perfect your timings and ensure you are answering as honestly as possible. Practise makes perfect.
Acing psychometric tests is as much about good examination technique as it is about specific skills and knowledge. Your maths wizardry will only take you so far if you can't apply some logic, and being good at English doesn't necessarily mean you'll be able to process large swathes of information at high speed. Experiment with different techniques (like running your fingers over the screen as you read it) and find what works for you.
Repeated exposure is ultimately the best way to banish your test nerves and to perfect your technique. After your initial run-through print out the questions and go through them in your own time. Once you have printed their answers, you can review the results and consider how you could positively discuss behaviours and working styles if questioned further at interview.
Indeed, timing is often the biggest issue for candidates, particularly as many psychometric tests issue penalties for leaving questions blank. It's common to find yourself spending too long on the early (and often easier) sections and then running out of time. You need to be ruthless: work out how long you have for each question and train yourself to stick to this.
The calmer you feel the easier it will be to put these techniques into practice when the pressure is on. Learn a few simple breathing or relaxation techniques that you can use before the test. Being well rested, nourished and hydrated on the day will also help your brain to perform at its best.
Preparing for psychometric tests is really all about understanding exactly what's involved and what you need to do to get up to speed. There are no short cuts – the more time you invest in your preparation the less surprises there will be.
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