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Putting your best foot forward: Psychometric and other pre-employment tests

So often we speak to candidates in the final stages of their interview process, who have just finished a psychometric or mental agility test, who have that unfortunate sinking feeling.


I had never done one before.

I didn’t know what to expect.

I didn’t know I was going to be under such time pressure.

I didn’t know how it was going to work.

I didn’t ensure I had peace and quiet for full duration of the test.

I hadn’t thought much about it before doing the test.

I didn’t realise how crucial this test was.


Only the minority of employers choose to leverage such tests in their recruitment processes, and many using them haven’t got internal benchmarks or years of history using the exact same test across employees, so any red flag you set off can be an issue. When tests are enlisted, as a job seeker, you must be aware that they are a crucial stage to complete successfully – as crucial as any formal interview – in order to move forward.

But the good news is that with preparation, practice and an understanding of what’s needed to succeed, you can perform to your best in these tests and give yourself the best chance of moving another step closer to that new role you’re seeking.

Whether you’re a first timer seeking clarity or an expert looking to delve deeper, these tips and tricks will guide you in navigating psychometric and mental agility testing – and help you perform to your full ability, should you be asked to sit one.


What is a Psychometric Test?

A psychometric test is a tool employed to evaluate an individual’s cognitive abilities and personality traits and often form a foundational component of recruitment and selection processes for businesses. Tests can consist of a series of multiple-choice questions (anything from 10 to over 100). By analysing a candidate’s responses and identifying candidates who possess the requisite skills and aptitudes for specific roles, psychometric testing can offer valuable predictions regarding job performance, competency, motivation, and it can also aid in the strategic placement of individuals where they are most likely to thrive. This not only benefits the individual by facilitating a better fit between their abilities and the demands of their chosen path, but also contributes to organisational success by ensuring a more productive and engaged workforce.


What is a Mental Agility Test?

A mental agility test is a cognitive ability test measuring the speed of thought and reasoning skills, assessing how quickly and accurately individuals can process information and solve problems, making it valuable for roles that require strong analytical skills. These tests are usually a short test with a 15-minute time limit consisting of 50 multiple-choice questions divided into mathematical ability, verbal reasoning, and vocabulary, and typically present participants with a series of challenging tasks or questions that require quick and accurate responses.

In various contexts, such as education, employment or personal development, mental agility tests serve several purposes. They help identify candidates who are well-suited for specific roles, predict job performance, diagnose cognitive impairments, guide career counselling and support training and development initiatives. By measuring how effectively individuals can process information, make decisions and adjust to new or changing circumstances, mental agility tests provide valuable insights into their cognitive strengths and areas for improvement.



Tips and Tricks

Below are some tips and tricks to help you navigate both psychometric and mental agility testing effectively.


  1. Understand the Test Format: Before taking a psychometric or mental agility test, familiarise yourself with the type of test and format and find out if there is a time limit to the test. Is it multiple-choice, essay-based, or something else? Understanding the structure can help you manage your time and expectations.


  1. Practice: Practice similar tests beforehand to get accustomed to the types of questions and the time constraints. Many resources online offer sample tests or practice questions for common psychometric and mental agility assessments.

Here is an example psychometric online practice test with answers, which could be helpful.

Here is an example mental agility test with answers, which could be helpful.

Please note, these are simply examples of tests to show how they work. There are numerous types of tests and companies offering their own version, so each will be unique.


  1. Manage Your Time: We encourage test-takers to ideally aim to finish all questions during sessions, as psychometric and mental agility tests frequently impose strict time limits for each section. It’s essential to develop effective time management skills to maximise your completion rate within the allotted time.

Remember, these tests sometimes evaluate how well you can adapt to timelines and pressure; thus, you may need to swiftly move forward without sacrificing accuracy. Be prepared for this dynamic challenge.


  1. Read Instructions Carefully: Pay close attention to the instructions for each section of the test. Understanding what is expected of you can prevent mistakes and ensure you’re answering the questions correctly.


  1. Expect some intensity and pressure: Psychometric and mental agility tests extend beyond mere knowledge assessment; while understanding the content is crucial, the assessments also gauge your ability to perform under pressure, think swiftly, adapt to changing circumstances, and maximize productivity within tight deadlines. Brace yourself for a fast-paced environment during the test, where agility and efficiency are key. Anticipate the need to work swiftly and efficiently, as this is an integral aspect of the assessment process.


  1. Stay Calm and Focused: Psychometric and mental agility tests can be stressful but try to stay calm and focused during the test. Take deep breaths, and if you encounter a difficult question, don’t dwell on it too long. Move on and come back to it later if there’s time.


  1. Answer Honestly: Psychometric and mental agility tests are designed to assess your abilities, personality traits and general mental agility accurately. Be honest in your responses rather than trying to guess what the test or employer is looking for. It’s important to note that answering inconsistently creates red flags in the data, which can often be perceived negatively; in fact, we’ve witnessed job seekers failing the test for this very reason, numerous times.


  1. Practice Critical Thinking: Many psychometric tests assess your critical thinking skills. Practice analysing and evaluating information to improve your performance on these types of questions. Mental agility tests assess your ability to analyse information objectively, evaluate arguments, and make sound judgments based on evidence. Critical thinking skills are essential for making informed decisions and solving problems effectively.


  1. Stay Well-Rested and Hydrated: Ensure you’re well-rested and hydrated before taking the test. A clear mind and good physical condition can positively impact your performance.


  1. Seek Feedback: After completing a psychometric or mental agility test, if possible, seek feedback on your performance. Understanding your strengths and areas for improvement can help you prepare better for future assessments.


  1. Review Your Results: If you receive feedback or scores from a test, take the time to review them carefully. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses can help you focus your efforts on personal or professional development.


Good luck with your test.


-Debbie Cathro

Talent Engineer