Psychometric Tests – Key Facts

  • Psychometric tests provide a level of objectivity when assessing your suitability to a role and are commonly used by employers in recruitment
  • The idea is that everyone solving psychometrics tests undergoes the same experience so that any difference in scores between 2 or more candidates can be more confidently attributed to a difference in capability
  • Practicing psychometric tests reduces anxieties and increases the chances of a consistent experience, thus giving you a better chance to demonstrate your fuller ability. This is backed by the Classical Test Theory (see below)
  • Most common psychometric tests include: numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, and logical reasoning. Most hiring processes will require you to go through at least one of them

Why use psychometric tests in hiring?

Psychometrics is a statistics heavy discipline that has been researched for decades. The topics surrounding Psychometrics are endless and so we have carefully selected some of the most relevant areas that may be of interest to graduates and provided some information around these below.

There is a vast amount of research demonstrating the positive relationship between ability, as assessed using psychometric tests, and job performance. Psychometric tests are used by thousands of organisations across the world and chances are that you are likely to come across these at least once in your lifetime!

Psychometric tests also help organisations that have large volumes of applicants to reduce these substantially. Commonly removing approximately 50% of candidates helps to make the process more efficient, preventing unneccessary numbers of candidates progressing through to the more time consuming and expensive assessment centre stage. Most organisations use a single Psychometric test to remove 30% of the bottom performing candidates. By using 2 tests, they can remove more than 50% of people before the assessment centre stage.

Consider this example:

100,000 candidates apply for a graduate role and take a Numerical Reasoning test. The bottom scoring 30% of candidates are rejected leaving 70,000 candidates. The remaining 70,000 candidates then take a Verbal Reasoning test and another 30% of poorest performing individuals are removed leaving 49,000. The Psychometric tests have removed over 50% of applicants already.

Why is practising psychometric tests important?

When faced with a test for the first time, a candidate will spend some of their mental resources familiarising themselves with the format of the test, rather than having the luxury of focussing purely on demonstrating their true ability. They would therefore be unable to demonstrate their true ability as accurately as they would have had they practised taking tests.

Imagine this then – what if a candidate (from the example above) obtains a score at the 28th percentile in the online test (remember: most organisations reject those who achieve less than the 30th percentile)? Yes, they would automatically have been rejected, even if in reality their true ability is a lot higher. Had they practised, they may have been more familiar with the style of test and format, and therefore been more relaxed, focussing all of their energy on demonstrating their ability – they may therefore have exceeded the 30th percentile requirement. This is why practising psychometric tests is vital!

Our tests are written by previous SHL and Kenexa Test Psychometricians and developers. You can get a very strong experience of the real thing simply by taking our FREE tests – click on the tab at the top-left of the screen now

‘Classical Test’ theory

Classical Test theory suggests that any assessment will only reveal an individual’s ‘observed’ score, and that this is not always indicative of the ‘true’ score, as there is always something in the environment that impacts an individual’s performance (error).

Thus for those of you who are mathematically minded:


True score – the individual’s ability and is always constant for a particular person

Observed Score – the score obtained by an assessment

Error – anything that may have impacted the individual’s performance on a test

By practising tests, you are minimising the error and therefore increasing your observed score. With zero (not possible) error, your observed score should equal your true score.


Have you ever wondered why test administrators read from standardised instructions in a verbatim manner? This is to maintain consistency, which minimises error. If two candidates take the same test independently and are given different instructions; we cannot be confident that the difference in the scores that we observe is down to different abilities as in reality, rather it may be the different instructions they received that impacted this. One candidate may claim to have received poorer or better instructions than the other. This is why we have to maintain consistency.

Final advice

Simply getting scores over the 30th percentile is not enough! Some organisations may set cut-offs higher than this. Also, if at the final stage of an assessment centre you may find yourself in a situation where the assessors have to make a decision between you and another candidate, where both of you have scored exactly the same across other assessments – who do you think they will choose? The job will most likely be offered to the candidate with the higher Psychometric test score. So make sure you get plenty of practise and try and obtain as high a score as possible in the real psychometric assessment.

Most common psychometric tests:

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