Selection tests, including psychometric tests, are set by some employers to help them to find out if you have the required skills, aptitude and personality to carry out the role successfully. Not all jobs will require you to complete a test prior to employment and you should be given clear instructions on what to do if they are required.
You could be asked to complete a selection test as part of the initial application, or at any point during the interview process. Tests may be done at home on a computer or at an assessment centre or interview.
What are psychometric tests?
Aptitude tests (sometimes just called psychometric tests) may be set by an employer to determine your skillset, knowledge and ability in particular areas.
- Verbal reasoning tests – to test your ability to interpret and understand written arguments.
- Numerical reasoning tests – to test your ability to interpret and understand data in tables and charts.
- Diagrammatic reasoning tests – to test your ability to extract and apply logical rules from a series of diagrams and symbols.
- Spatial reasoning tests - to test your ability to visualise objects in space and imagine 3D objects, useful in engineering and design roles.
- Game-based assessments - are becoming increasingly common and test for elements of all of the above in a more interactive way; they can also be used for assessing your personality traits such as ability to focus and risk-taking.
Completing a psychometric aptitude test
You usually need to complete this test on a computer. This may be online at home on your own computer before shortlisting, before or after an interview, or on location at an assessment centre.
It will be timed and, if taken at interview or at an assessment centre, is taken under exam conditions. If you do not finish the test in time, try not to worry – you are not always expected to finish all the questions. Generally, try to complete questions to an accurate standard, rather than rushing through to complete as many questions as possible.
Sometimes, you will be allowed paper or a calculator to help. The employer should provide information on what is required beforehand. If in doubt, ask.
After you have completed your test, the results will be calculated. Your results may be compared with other candidates’ results, or rated against an expected standard.
Personality questionnaires ask questions about your interests, values and motivations, through which recruiters can analyse if your personality fits in well with the ethos, service area and cause of the organisation.
It is likely that you will complete these tests at home at your own computer early on in the recruitment process, although you may also be required to complete them at an assessment centre. These are generally made up of lots of very short statements where you are required to indicate how strongly you agree with each one. There are no right or wrong answers, and you are unlikely to be strictly timed.
The employer will gain an insight into your personality to see if it matches what they are looking for in an employee. However, do not try and tailor your responses to what you think will be favourable. It is impossible to tell what employers are looking for in candidates on this level, and there are built-in checks to ensure your answers are consistent (you may notice that similar questions come up multiple times) – these tests can be a clever way to judge your integrity, as well as your personality. An employer is trying to work out how you do things, not how well.
In preparation, you can familiarise yourself with the format, but as the tests are entirely based on your honest responses, you don’t need to practice to improve your chances of being successful.
Another personality measure is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and similar tests. Although there is growing scepticism about their usefulness, an employer may ask you to complete a test like this.
Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs)
SJTs are multiple-choice tests which give an employer an idea of how you behave under certain circumstances, where you will be presented with a scenario and multiple possible responses.
These tests are usually done online. They will usually occur early in the recruitment process, often from your own home computer as part of the application form. On the web page, you will be presented with a scenario and multiple possible responses.
You may be asked to select the one response which most fits in with your working style, or to rank the responses in order of your own personal preference, or mark which you would be most and least likely to do.
As with personality tests, you cannot practice for this in the same way you would a verbal or numerical test as there are no strict right and wrong answers but it is objective. Be as truthful as possible – if you do not score highly, this may usefully indicate that you would not enjoy the role, so it is best to be honest. However, you can see online examples at Assessment Day.
- If you can, practice so you are familiar with the test style and format. Simply getting comfortable with completing online tests and doing number and word puzzles can increase your score (see below for some suggestions).
- Think about what particular test you might face for your type of job or industry.
- Look on similar companies’ websites for examples and ‘past papers’.
- Don’t panic: aptitude tests don’t require advanced algebra or knowledge of Shakespeare. Brush up on GCSE level maths and practice good grammar.
- Take everything you need, including a watch, and read instructions carefully. If you are not given an indication of what to take (if at an interview or assessment centre) contact the employer beforehand to ask.
- If there is no right or wrong answer within the type of test you are completing, answer honestly.
- Don’t dwell on questions – if you are unsure of an answer, move on. Use any time left to check your answers, but don’t be disheartened if you don’t finish all the questions, as the tests are meant to be challenging.
University of Bradford students and graduates now have access to a range of full-length practice tests from Graduates First for free!
The portal includes:
- 7 verbal reasoning tests
- 15 numerical reasoning tests
- 15 logical reasoning tests
- Game-based assessment
- Workstyle Personality Questionnaire (WPQ)
- Question Identifier Tool (QIT)
- Situational Judgement Test (SJT)
- Automated video interview practice
- Plus a range of Assessment Centre Exercises
Registration and login details
- Current students: Register with your university email address to activate your account. Complete the biographical details fully so that your results can be compared to other similar students and graduates, and you will receive an email to complete your registration.
- For graduates: please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org stating your name, UB number and personal email address and we will set up an account for you.
Any issues?: please email us with your details and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Hints and tips for using the practice test portal
- Click on the Help button at the top left of the page for detailed instructions on how to use the site and interpret your reports.
- Make sure you have time to complete each test, as a visit to one of the tests counts as one session (even if you don’t attempt any questions) which may affect your results.
- You will receive a detailed report after you complete each test. The report categories are: how well did you do?, strengths and development areas and improve your performance. Your test results are confidential and only you can access them – if you want to discuss them with a Careers Consultant, you will need to provide a copy.
- You will be able to look at step-by-step solutions to any questions you got incorrect to see where you went wrong.
- You can come back into the site at any point in the future, to revisit reports and use any remaining free test sessions or attempt any of the tests again.
- Check out the videos (on the right of the screen) for tips on passing the tests, how to increase your scores and more.
More practice tests
In addition to the Graduates First portal, there are also free online tests at the following sites:
- Try the free tests on Assessment Day (look for the free sample button).
- A selection of short practice tests on Wikijob.
- Tests from Highered (log in required)
- PracticeAptitudeTests.com also have a range of useful resources and and practice tests.
- Test Partnership have trial tests (click on the Candidate Preparation links for the free trial versions).
- More free selection tests via Job Test Prep, The Institute of Psychometric Coaching, 123test.com and Assessment Training.
- Practice tests and advice from Practice Reasoning Tests.
- Practice4Me free practice materials for aptitude tests, SJT and personality tests including study guides, sample questions and sample tests.
There are plenty of free tests available online, so you should be able to practise these tests without having to pay anything.
Help from Careers
If you'd like more help with any type of selection test, you can speak to a Career Consultant who can suggest strategies you may find helpful.
If you have any further questions, or you are looking for more tests please get in touch with us via email.
We also have books in the Careers information room that can help you prepare and practise.