Testing Time May Be Just the Job for You; CAREER MAIL

Daily Mail (London), March 23, 2000 | Go to article overview

Testing Time May Be Just the Job for You; CAREER MAIL


Byline: LYNNE BATESON

SCHOOL or university reunions always prompt the question why did the high-flyers fall to earth? Life may have been cruel to them, but sometimes high-flyers fall simply because they are in the wrong job.

It might have been a different story if they had taken psychometric testing to ascertain their personality and aptitude.

Personality and ability tests, pioneered by the German army in World War I, are becoming the ultimate management tool in hiring and evaluating staff.

No job is immune. Bus drivers, directors and vicars are now getting back to the classroom, as potential bosses test them to see if they make the grade.

But psychometric tests are not only a management tool. We can take them before we go job hunting to see what kind of job we are cut out for. Many career guidance firms offer them, usually for a few hundred pounds.

Colin Cooper, senior lecturer at the School of Psychology at Queen's University, Belfast, says: 'These tests can be highly accurate at showing which jobs people would excel at. They can be specific. It's possible that a test could show that someone could be a doctor or an engineer.

'Regardless of the outcome, simply taking the test can be a wonderful way of focusing people's minds.

BUT THE results are only as good as the test and the testers. Some tests are better than others, and whoever is doing a test should be qualified. They should either be a chartered psychologist certified by the British Psychological Society or have a Level-A or, better still, a Level-B certificate in psychometric training.' And Sophie Rowan, psychologist with vocational guidance firm Career Psychology, warns: 'Tests must be interpreted in the context of someone's life and market conditions. You need a dose of realism. A test may show that someone would be a brilliant architect, but there are not that many jobs in architecture.

'Recently we tested someone who would have been a perfect healthcare worker. But she couldn't do that sort of job since she has a needle phobia.

'And people may have to be prepared to take a few steps back if they change career. Older people may not have the time or finances to retrain.

'But if you can switch, not only do you feel fulfilled, there are often material rewards. It's easier to succeed at something you have a talent for.'

She says a test could save many youngsters from years of drifting, but stresses: 'People's outlook, including their confidence, can change over the years.

Conclusions from a psychometric test should always be reviewed.'

l.bateson@dailymail.co.uk

THE SECOND OPINION THAT CHANGED MY LIFE

GARETH JONES, 33, had a psychometric test at 17, but sought further advice from the firm that did it when he began to feel unfulfilled in his job as a supervisor for a printing company. 'Printing has changed from being craft-based to technology-based and my attitude has changed. …

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