How to prepare for a psychometric test

What should you expect during a psychometric test for a job interview? Photo by: Alberto G. / CC BY

International development professionals often work in difficult, complex environments where success in the job can depend just as much on personality and temperament as it does on technical knowledge and expertise.

Read: Soft skills for development: The role of emotional intelligence in development careers

These soft skills can be harder for employers to evaluate in a CV or even in a standard interview, so many organizations are turning to psychometric testing to get a deeper understanding of how candidates might approach problems in difficult situations. The tests can measure personality and aptitude and help an employer see if a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses are compatible with the competencies most needed in the role.

Read: 5 things you should know about about soft skills for global development

As these tests become more prevalent online and cheaper to administer, many organizations have started incorporating them into their hiring process. Here's what to expect if you'll be undergoing a psychometric test for your next position, along with four tips to prepare.

1. Understand what you are being tested on

There are many different kinds of tests employers may choose to administer, each with their own goals. There are your standard IQ tests, along with EQ tests that measure your emotional intelligence, which many employers say is more important than book smarts. There are aptitude tests that evaluate your ability in various areas like spatial reasoning, logic or vocabulary, and personality tests which seek to gauge, for example, your leadership style. Ask the recruiter what kinds of tests will be administered so you know what to expect and can develop a plan to prepare.

2. Practice taking a test in a similar environment

Tests can be administered in a variety of ways. Some are done at an assessment center and can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days, including a combination of written, verbal and exercise-based questions and scenarios.

If you’re taking a test in person, the best way to prepare is to look up some sample tests online and print them out. Go to a quiet location like a library where you can take the practice test in a simulated environment. Most tests are timed, so practice completing your test under the clock.

Given the high cost of administering tests this way, more and more employers are choosing online versions. There are many free sample tests available that will give you a sense of what the questions may be like. The goal of practicing is less to help you ace the test, since there are not right or wrong answers for many of these assessments, and more to help remove any nerves so you can go into your real test with more confidence and ease.

3. Look at this as an opportunity to learn

Answer the questions honestly and consider them an opportunity to understand yourself better — and a way to help you determine if this job is truly a good fit. Just because your consultative leadership style, for example, isn’t a good fit for one job doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be desirable for another position.

Go in with the attitude that this test is about seeing if you and the job are a good match versus evaluating whether or not you are a good enough person or candidate overall. Going in with this mindset will also help keep your confidence level up and nerves in check.

4. Ask for feedback

Many recruiters will share the results of the assessments with candidates whether they are ultimately selected for the position or not. If you are hired, the results could be used to set up a career development plan to help you grow in areas that need improvement.

If you aren’t selected for the position, having a deeper understanding of your strengths and weaknesses can help you reflect on whether you are choosing the right kinds of jobs for your personality.

Have you ever had to take a psychometric or personality test as part of the hiring practice? How did you find the experience and what advice do you have for others preparing to do the same?

If you have a questions about managing your career in global development, please tweet me @DevexCareers. Subscribe to our weekly Doing Good newsletter to receive top international development career and recruitment news.

About the author

  • Warren kate 1

    Kate Warren

    Kate Warren is Executive Vice President and resident talent and careers guru at Devex. With 15 years of global development recruitment experience advising international NGOs, consulting firms, and donor agencies, she has a finger on the pulse of hiring trends across the industry and insider knowledge on what it takes to break in.