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How to prepare for Psychometric Assessments

Whether you are a school leaver entering tertiary education and completing compulsory psychometric assessments, a graduate searching for employment and completing a set of assessments as part of your interview process, or a seasoned professional having to now do assessments as part of developmental purposes, psychometric assessments are enough to cause some individuals incredible anxiety and fear. Through our schooling years, we have been taught that any form of “assessment” means that there is a right and wrong answer, and a possible “pass” or “fail”. Completing a battery of psychometric assessments probably brings back those very same emotions you experienced the morning of your Matric Maths exam paper. You become so anxious that you risk rendering yourself completely ineffective; worst still, you contemplate phoning the morning of the assessments to cancel your application to your dream job because just because of sheer fear.

Fear no more.

In today’s society and the economic climate we live in, finding employment has become increasingly difficult. A degree or diploma is no longer a guarantee that you will land a good job like it was decades ago. Today, companies make use of assessments to distinguish who is the most competent candidate for the job – not just the most qualified. Getting good grades at school, and a qualification from university, is no longer enough. That can be interpreted as the bad news; however, the good news is you do not have to have a list of qualifications and awards to guarantee you success. Psychometric assessments are implemented to match a candidate to a job as close as possible – because at the end of the day, a business who manages to acquire and retain the person best suited to that particular role (with the minimum required qualification), is going to be successful. In layman’s terms, if you are happy in your job, you will thrive, and your company will enjoy continued success. So at the end of the day, it’s in everybody’s interests if you are matched to a job role as close as possible. If you were not picked this time round – then it’s not all bad news. You didn’t FAIL the assessments; you merely didn’t meet the criteria demanded from that particular role. Think of it this way: if you are a bubbly extravert, you would probably go crazy working in an isolated office 45 hours a week. If you did not get the job, then the assessments probably did you a favour.

To reiterate: you cannot pass or fail a psychometric assessment (like an exam); your cognitive and personality profile is unique – and there is no right and wrong profile; but there is a better suited profile for a particular position. In order to get the most out of your psychometric assessment – whether you are completing it for recruitment purposes, for developmental reason as prescribed by your company, or for yourself (in the case of going for a career assessment) – here are a few key pointers:

  1. Get a good night’s rest the night before. Chances are you will probably need to complete at least one cognitive assessment, and perhaps a few personality assessments. Cognitive assessments can be tricky and are sometimes timed tests. To give yourself the best chance to perform optimally, make sure you know exactly where you need to be for your assessments, what you need to bring (if anything) and the time you need to be there (so that it’s not a mad scramble in the morning). Save the address in your GPS or navigation app on your phone, have the number of your contact person handy, and take out the clothes you intend to wear the night before.
  2. Stay away from stimulants. Don’t stock up on Red Bull, smoke a pack of cigarettes, or down a bottle of Bioplus just before the assessment. It will most probably cause you to feel jittery, and will impact your concentration.
  3. Stay away from sedatives. On the other side of the spectrum, if you are experiencing an extra dose of nervousness, don’t take a sleeping pill or tranquiliser the night before in the hopes of getting a good night’s rest. You may feel rather groggy the next morning which will do more harm than good. If you really are desperate, there are a number of natural remedies that you can find at your local pharmacy (whether it be Biral or Rescue Remedy); otherwise have a nice hot bath and a milky drink before bed!
  4. Have breakfast. We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Your brain is going to need the extra fuel and energy to complete the assessments, so make sure you have a proper breakfast and take a banana or sandwich with you so that you can re-fuel if you need to.
  5. Take the day off. Don’t rely on telling your boss on the morning of the assessments you are having car issues. Rather put in a full day’s leave. Sometimes assessments can take much longer than anticipated; other factors like traffic, getting lost or even a power failure at the assessment centre can delay things. You do not want to be stressing about having to rush back to the office.
  6. Put your phone off. There is nothing more distracting than your phone continuously buzzing – and a definite way to break your concentration. Don’t put it on silent (even the flashing when ringing on silent can distract you). Shut the whole thing down!
  7. Ask. If there is anything you are unsure of at any stage during the assessment process, ask. No matter how “silly” you think you may be. There are trained professionals administering the assessment that are there to answer all your questions.
  8. Work quickly. With multiple choice personality assessments especially, the first answer that “pops” out at you is likely to be the most correct. Don’t overanalyse things.
  9. Be honest. A number of personality assessments have a social desirability score. If you do try to inflate certain qualities, the assessment can reveal this. At the end of the day, you need to be true to yourself – answer the questions as truthfully as possible.
  10. You have finished the assessments… now what? You may have experienced completing a whole batch of assessments in the past, not getting your desired job (or even getting the job), but never ever getting your results. Did you know that you are absolutely entitled to your results – they are, after all, your intellectual property? The complication is usually the company who required you to complete the assessments only paid for the feedback and / report for themselves. You have two options: you can either request feedback from your HR contact at the company you interviewed for (or ask them to email you the summary report). If you have no luck there, you can go back to the consultancy where you completed the assessments and pay for feedback out of your own pocket (which won’t be all that expensive, seeing as the company already paid for all the assessments you completed).

PsychMatters is proud to be a Psychometric Assessment supplier. We have a team of qualified Psychometrists and Industrial Psychologists providing psychometric assessment solutions for recruitment and developmental purposes. If you are interested on behalf of the HR division of your company regarding our cost effective solutions, please get in touch for a tailor made quote, otherwise we are happy to send you our price list. If you are a Grade 9 student choosing subjects for Grade 10, a Grade 11/Matric student applying for tertiary education, a Matriculant entering the job marketing or even those working but feeling unfulfilled in their current job, you may benefit from a career assessment (which you may be able to claim back from medical aid) email us on info@psychmatters.co.za  or our resident psychometrist marzenna@psychmatters.co.za or +27-11-4503576.

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