Magazine article Public Finance

Testing Times

Magazine article Public Finance

Testing Times

Article excerpt

Psychometric tests are widely used in the public sector, especially for recruitment purposes. So it is important that both recruiters and job applicants know what they are and how to use them.

A psychometric test is a standardised measure of a clearly defined human attribute. In other words, everyone who takes a test designed to measure ability, personality, motivation or other attribute is asked the same questions, in the same way, every time.

Used properly, these tests are highly effective selection tools, with research showing that they are the best single predictor of later job performance.


If you are an employer thinking of using psychometric tests as part of your selection process, you would be well advised to do the following.

Make sure your objectives are clear. That means first determining which attributes you are looking for and how they are relevant to the job you are trying to fill, and then deciding on the best way of assessing candidates. That will often - but not always - involve psychometric testing.

If you do decide to use a psychometric tool, choose one that will accurately measure the attributes you are looking for.

Make sure that you have sufficient expertise to use the test and interpret the results. Be wary of tests that you can access without training, and instead look out for programmes ratified by the British Psychological Society

If you are thinking about using online testing, consider all of the above and don't be seduced by flashy delivery systems that lack substance.


If you have applied for a job and have been asked to take a test, don't panic. It shows that the employer is taking the process seriously.

Make sure you are well prepared. It is fine to ask what the assessment is for and how you can best prepare for it. Some tests might come with practice materials or information that can be sent to you in advance.

Listen carefully to what the test administrator says: some tests require you to follow very precise instructions. Work though any examples and ask questions if you are unsure about anything.

If you feel you have not performed well on a particular assessment, remember that it is unlikely to be the only part of the selection process. …

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