Increasingly, organisations and search or selection firms require candidates for roles at all levels to complete online psychometric questionnaires to generate a profile of you as an individual. 

Here are a few insights into the process and some tips on how to do your best when completing them.

If required early in the process, psychometric questionnaires tend to be used to screen out candidates. If it is before an interview with the recruitment consultant or potential employer, they are generally used to gain a balanced view of several candidates.

Since everyone answers the same questions, this produces a fair comparison of each candidate against the others. ‘Comparing apples with apples’, so to speak.

These questionnaires tend to fall into two categories. They are either personality or leadership profiling tests or aptitude or ability tests. Sometimes, you may have to complete a combination of these.

Some questionnaires are available on the general market, whilst others are exclusive to the recruitment consultants or employing organisation. Although the tips below are designed to help you familiarise yourself with the process and principles, they are not exhaustive and do not guarantee the outputs or outcomes.  

Profiling your personality

Personality or leadership profiles provide insight into your personality traits, preferences, motives or drivers, or blind spots.

They often identify where individuals can add the most value and where there may be risks to be considered.

Bear in mind the following points when completing such questionnaires:

  1. Question formats vary, but typically you will be asked to respond in two different ways. Either you’ll be asked the extent to which you agree with a statement, or you’ll have to rank statements in order of how much you agree, given how you operate.

  2. There are no right or wrong answers. Rather, the profiles generated provide insight into how an individual will approach a role. They do not make assumptions about whether they will succeed.

  3. Always make sure you read each statement carefully and respond honestly, and use the range of the scale when responding to normative items.

  4. Be aware that there are various checks built into questionnaires. These are to prevent cheating and manipulation and validate responses by measuring, for example, their consistency.

  5. Whilst most personality profile tests are not timed, it is important you find a quiet space to avoid distractions and interruptions so you can do your very best. If you have any special requirements to complete the questionnaire, tell the organisation or recruitment consultant upfront.

Measuring your aptitude

Cognitive aptitude or ability tests are considered strong predictors of performance in professional roles. The most common of these are the verbal, numerical, and abstract reasoning. You will be tested against the clock, responding to a series of multiple-choice questions.

Here’s what to consider when preparing for aptitude or ability tests:

  1. Practice. Practice. The most effective approach is to familiarise yourself with the types of questions.  Whilst this will not enable someone with limited reasoning skills to outperform others, it will help you to optimise your performance.

  2. There are many online resources to practice aptitude tests. Some are free, others paid for. Find out which tests you will sit and then access the test publisher’s site for examples to practice on.

  3. Practice tests are designed to familiarise you with the format but are not necessarily an accurate indication of the difficulty level of the test you will eventually sit. Here are some examples:

  1. Finally, it might seem obvious, but always make sure you read the questions thoroughly for maximum understanding. It is best to move steadily and systematically through the questions. As time is limited, rather than getting stuck on a question, move on, so you complete the test.

We hope this guide has been useful and helpful in preparing for your assessment test.

Find out more about our current executive opportunities.

And look out for our guidance on Behavioural Interviews.

Elizabeth Stewart

Elizabeth (Liz) has over 30 years as a business consultant, working for global professional services firms, and in the last 15 years focused on advising on Boards, CEOs, the C-Suite and their pipel...



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