North Wales Management School - Wrexham University

What is a psychometric assessment?

Posted on: February 20, 2023
Girl sitting at computer taking an IQ test

A psychometric assessment is a psychology examination that is used to measure an individual’s personal characteristics. Through specialised testing, measurements, assessments, scales, graphs, and activities, psychometrics can be used to objectively assess a person’s:

  • Behavioural style.
  • Intelligence and knowledge.
  • Personality and traits.
  • Beliefs.
  • Attitudes.
  • Educational and academic achievements.
  • Introversion.
  • Mental capabilities.

While psychometric assessments were initially developed for psychological and educational scenarios, today they are most commonly used by employers and recruiters to determine the most suitable candidates for vacant job roles.

What are the different types of psychometric tests?

Aptitude tests

Aptitude tests measure a person’s intelligence, logical reasoning, and cognitive abilities, as well as their ability to perform particular tasks, against a standard baseline.

Aptitude tests can include:

  • Verbal reasoning tests, which assess a person’s ability to understand concepts and information expressed through language, and extract meaning from text.  
  • Diagrammatic reasoning tests, also known as abstract reasoning tests or inductive reasoning tests, which assess a person’s logical reasoning and their ability to solve complex problems.
  • Error checking tests, which assess a person’s ability to find errors in text or datasets.
  • Numerical reasoning tests, which assess a person’s mathematical skills.
  • Spatial reasoning tests, which assess a person’s spatial awareness and abilities, evaluating whether they are able to manipulate 2D and 3D objects, visualise movement and change, and spot patterns between shapes.
  • Written communication tests, which assess a person’s ability to communicate effectively using written language. It will also test their spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
  • Situational judgment tests, which outline a scenario and then assess how a person would act in that particular situation.

Aptitude tests are typically conducted under timed, exam-style conditions, with multiple-choice answers.

Personality tests

Personality testing isn’t a matter of right or wrong answers. Instead, it’s a tool to assess what type of character traits a person possesses, and to predict how well someone might fit in within a business or organisation and its company culture. These tests examine a person’s values, motivations, and interests, and analyse emotions, behaviours, and relationships in different contexts and situations.

Common personality assessments and assessment tools include the:

  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The Myers-Briggs test is one of the most well-known personality tests. After filling in one of the Myers-Briggs personality questionnaires that help pin down how a person perceives the world and makes decisions, the individual is placed in one of 16 personality groups. 
  • Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ and OPQ32). The Occupational Personality Questionnaire helps determine whether an individual’s personality fits with a particular job. It does this by gauging their behavioural style at work, how they would fit into certain work environments, how they work with other people, what their decision-making skills are like, and how they cope with different requirements. The OPQ32 in particular is used within organisations to assist with development, team building, succession planning, and organisational change.
  • Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory assesses personality traits and psychopathology to diagnose and treat mental disorders.
  • Five-Factor Model. Also known as the Big 5, the Five-Factor Model is a personality traits test that suggests there are five major groups for personality traits. These are: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.
  • Personality and Preference Inventory (PAPI). Personality and Preference Inventory tests are used to reveal the personality traits, behaviours, and preferences that can impact an individual’s suitability for a particular job or workplace.

What are the advantages of psychometric assessments?

Psychometric assessments are easy – and often quick – tests that can reveal a lot about an individual. Through aptitude, personality, and ability tests, employers, educators, and health professionals can gain valuable insight into a person’s intelligence, competency, and mental health as well as their behaviours and motivations.

In terms of recruitment, these assessments are hugely important in determining a job applicant’s suitability for a role during the application process and selection process. In fact, according to LinkedIn, there are numerous benefits to using psychometric assessments, including:

  • Cost savings. Psychometric assessments are cost-effective to conduct, and can also reduce costs generated by poor employee performance and staff turnover.
  • Objectivity. Psychometric assessments are unbiased.
  • Efficiency. Psychometric assessments can save huge amounts of time within the recruitment process.

In addition to aiding hiring decisions, organisations can also use psychometric testing for coaching, career planning, team development activities, and measuring job performance for existing staff.

Conducting a psychometric assessment: things to know

When developing or conducting a psychometric assessment, there are a few ways to help ensure the success of the exercise:

  • Understand the purpose of the assessment. Is it being used to gauge whether a personality is compatible with a specific job role? Is it being used to determine whether an individual has the required skill set for a role? The purpose behind the assessment should determine what type of assessment is used.
  • Factor in safeguards against cheating. Psychometric assessments are often conducted online, which opens up the possibility of cheating during the examination. It’s important to prepare for this possibility, and reduce the risk of it occurring.
  • Review test results alongside other information and data. Particularly in recruitment, it’s important to remember that psychometric assessments are not a perfect science, and will never provide 100% accurate results. This means it’s imperative to view assessment data, test scores, and exam percentages alongside interview responses, CVs, and cover letters.

Receiving a psychometric assessment: things to know

What to expect from a psychometric assessment

Psychometric assessments can vary – for example, one may be conducted at home online, while another may be completed in a room with a group of people in an assessment centre. There are a few commonalities, though. Assessments are usually quick, and often involve questions with multiple-choice answers.

How to prepare for a psychometric assessment

When it comes to psychometric assessments that focus on personality, there are no correct or incorrect answers, so preparation isn’t necessary. If completing a psychometric assessment that’s focused on aptitude, understanding what areas will be covered can help. For example, if the aptitude test will be focused on numeracy, there are practice questions and practice tests available online that can help. 

The most important areas of preparation, though, help boost confidence as well as comfort with the assessment format. This means having the right equipment – such as a computer with internet access – and taking steps to reduce nerves, such as deep breathing exercises and having a quiet area to answer questions. 

How long does a psychometric assessment take?

Depending on the type of test, a psychometric assessment can take between five minutes and half an hour, and will typically not exceed a 30-minute time limit. 

Turn your passion for psychology into a career advantage

Learn human psychology and how to apply it effectively in the workplace with the 100% online MSc Psychology degree at North Wales Management School, part of Wrexham University. 

This flexible master’s programme includes an Assessments in Psychology module, so you’ll gain an overview of the various means of collecting information using clinical and psychometric assessments. You will also gain an understanding of the role and function of psychological assessments across applied settings, and learn how to evaluate the reliability and validity of a given measure to interpret data produced by these assessments.