Psychometric testing in job interviews - what are they looking for?

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With Pharmacy employers utilising Psychometric tests in determining who to hire more and more, potential employees need to understand what these tests are measuring, and what employers are looking for.

"When people talk about psychometric tests, they sometimes mean questionnaires," says Mark Parkinson, a business psychologist. "A test is something with a right or wrong answer, which might be used to measure numeracy or literacy, for example, while a questionnaire would be used to find out about someone's personality." Employers may use one or both of these in the recruitment process.

The questionnaire is supposed to discover what kind of person you are in ways that you wouldn't necessarily admit to in an interview, with questions designed to expose how you behave and what motivates you. A good test will be set up to pick up on any inconsistencies and make it difficult for you to put on an act - there is a built-in "lie scale".

Heidi Dariz, General Manager at Raven's Recruitment, says that psychometric tests can be beneficial, if they are used as part of an overall process - with the results used in conjunction with behavioural interviews, reference checks and aptitude testing.

"You can't actually 'ace' a psychometric test - the employer is using it to see what your strengths and weaknesses are, and how they match up with the job requirements," says Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University.

"The main thing that candidates should know is it gives you a level playing field and a chance to show what you're really good at, and somebody's subjective judgement is not coming into play. Candidates should see organisations which use testing as a better class of employer because they're allowing better judgement and a fairer process."

As with all recruitment methods, Heidi Dariz says, "psych testing is not fail-safe, it is important that testing results are used correctly and interpreted properly" but if used well, psychometric testing can help find the best fit for a company. They can determine whether the person has the right leadership qualities, is forward thinking and a team player. And they can also display characteristics which might not be helpful, such as individualistic tendencies which might not suit a company's culture.

Tips to prepare for psychometric testing:

* Find a quiet place
* Think quickly, the best response is the first response
* Do not second-guess yourself
* Do not start a test tired
* Be honest
* Find out what attributes best suit the company, because the questions may be tailored towards its values
* Look at different psych testing online, such as those offered by the Institute of Psychometric Coaching
* Take a calculator if it is a numerical aptitude test, read widely if it's a verbal test
* Don't try and interpret test results, ask for feedback

For more information on Psychometric testing and how it can assist you in the hiring process, contact Heidi Dariz, General Manager on 0800 88 6973 or