Psychometric Testing

Psychometric tests for MBAs
The word psychometric is formed from the Greek words for mental and measurement. Psychometrics is the field of study concerned with the theory and technique of psychological measurement, which includes the measurement of knowledge, abilities, attitudes, personality traits, and educational measurement. The field is primarily concerned with the construction and validation of measurement instruments such as questionnaires, tests, and personality assessments.
What are Psychometric Tests?
Psychometric tests attempt to objectively measure aspects of your mental ability or your personality. Psychometric tests are a standard and scientific method used to measure individuals' mental capabilities and behavioural style. Psychometric tests are designed to measure candidates' suitability for a role based on the required personality characteristics and aptitude (or cognitive abilities). They identify the extent to which candidates' personality and cognitive abilities match those required to perform the role. Organizations use the information collected from the psychometric test to identify the hidden aspects of candidates that are difficult to extract from a face-to-face interview. They are statistically examined, and are constructed to be objective and unbiased. This is done by using standard methods of assessment so that everyone is presented with the same questions and instructions for completing them.
  • There are two main types of psychometric tests: 
  • Ability Tests – Measure your ability to perform or carry out different tasks. Aptitude and ability tests assess candidates' capabilities within specific, defined areas of competence. Some of the more commonly used aptitude and ability tests assess areas such as verbal ability, numerical skills, logical reasoning and problem solving. These tests add value when assessing a candidate for a position that demands a high level of capability in a particular area (e.g. numerical skills for a role which demands a high degree of numeracy, for example, an Accountancy role). In this case, a numerical ability test will provide an accurate and objective measurement of the candidates' capability which can be compared against the other candidates and the requirements of the role. 
  • Personality Tests - Measure your way of doing things, and specifically the way you interact with your environment and other people. The principle behind personality questionnaires is that it is possible to quantify your personality by asking you about your feelings, thoughts and behavior.  Examples of personality tests:
  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. This 16-type indicator test is based on CarlJung's Psychological Types, developed during World War II by Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs. The MBTI uses a series of questions where one is forced to pick one out of the two options given in each question. These choices are built in a manner that they represent opposite preferences and hence, help establish the personality type. In case one is not able to answer a question, one can skip that question.
  • Thematic Apperception Test, or TAT, is a projective psychological test. Proponents of this technique assert that a person's responses to the TAT cards can provide information about his or her views of the self, the world, and interpersonal relationships.
What are the points to be kept in mind while attempting Psychometric/Personality Tests?
  • Personality is the typical way in which a person responds to situations or a person's preferred way of behaving in particular situations.
  • The test is popularly administered in such a way that the number of questions is proportionately more as compared to the time required to solve them.
  • Normally, the instructions require you to attempt all questions in the given time frame.
  • Personality tests are designed so they include several questions measuring an identical personality trait. Hence, consistency in the way you respond to questions is very important. Questions are scattered in such a way that you sense prior familiarity, but under the time pressure you may not be able to check your response to such questions.
  • Personality tests measure your behavioural style, opinions and motivators— for example, whether you prefer working in a group or independently whether you prefer taking charge over situations or following others. Personality tests also measure personal attributes such as temperament, career interests and personal values.
  • The response cannot be measured in terms of right or wrong.
  • A few of the personality tests use specific questions that establish your level of honesty. One of these scales that establish one’s level of honesty is call social desirability. This scale, by using questions that are based on undesirable behaviour that most people have exhibited at a certain point of time, establishes one’s honesty levels. A highly probable situation would be given, such as, “ I have told a white lie, even to save someone’s feelings”, and one’s response to this would establish whether the person is faking the test.
  • Do remember that one can improve on these tests with practice. Practice also reduces the stress one feels when one attempts these tests.
  • Don’t think that by preparing for test, one is altering the answers, and by doing so, one will not get the right results. By practicing these tests, you will be able to perform to your potential.
Sample Test
  • Take this Neuro Linguistic Programming Test to get familiar with psychometric tests. Answer the following questions for each area that is relevant to you. 
    1. Think of yourself exercising. Tick the thoughts that are most like the ones that come to mind.
      1. Getting fit.
      2. Avoiding injury.
      3. Having a sense of personal achievement.
      4. Losing weight.
      5. Enjoying the environment.
      6. Taking your mind off the pressure of work.
  1. When you think of changing your job, which of the following are you most likely to think of?
    1. The kind of work you would most like to do.
    2. The situations and people you don't like and want to avoid.
    3. The satisfaction you will get from doing what you want.
    4. The frustrations you experience currently.
    5. The things that your current job doesn't give you.
    6. The kind of work that satisfies your needs.
  1. When you make a decision to go on holiday, which of the following do you do?
    1. Think of the problems of organizing a holiday.
    2. Begin to imagine yourself there on holiday.
    3. Think of what your holiday will be like.
    4. Remind yourself of the benefits of taking a holiday.
    5. Think of some of the problems you have experienced on previous holidays.
    6. Think of everything you have to do first.
  1. Write one sentence that explains their relationship to each other.
  1. It may help to think of something that you are in the process of buying currently a car, a house, a book, an item of clothing. Which of the following do you do?
    1. Look for aspects of this purchase that are the same as similar purchases you have made before.
    2. Think the purchase through to discover in what ways it doesn't meet your needs.
    3. Compare the purchase with a mental or actual list of characteristics that you want to have.
    4. Search for something that is different to what you have had before.
    5. Seek to find out how this product matches up to similar products.
    6. Want something that is unique, there is no other like it.
  1. In conversation, which of the following applies to you?
    1. You like a good argument
    2. You look for the common agenda
    3. You push for agreement
    4. You test out someone else's views to find out where they are wrong
    5. You find yourself using the expression "Yes, but…."
    6. You find that you are usually in the company of people who share your ideas.
  1. Take a piece of paper and write down three or four sentences describing your home as if to someone who has never been there.Now go through your sentences and count up how many descriptive words you used that were:
    1. Abstract, global descriptions, e.g. spacious, airy, dark, traditional. These are words that are non-specific. Number of abstract words =
    2. Detailed, precise descriptions, e.g. n X n meters, temperature, number of doors, windows etc, colour of the surroundings. Number of precise words =
  1. Tick any of the following that are characteristic of you
    1. Thinking about holidays you have had
    2. Savoring the things you see, hear and feel around you now
    3. Reviewing how successful you work has been
    4. Planning what you will do in the future
    5. Paying attention to what is happening around you
    6. Mulling over conversations you have had
    7. Deciding how you will spend your day
    8. Enjoying every moment
    9. Dreaming of where you would like to be
    10. Being aware of how you feel
    11. Anticipating what is going to happen
    12. Reminiscing
  • Analysis
    In this analysis the question numbers are grouped under the particular filters to which they most relate. Add up the number of ticks you have in each of these columns.
    • Questions 1, 2, 3 (Towards / Away from thinking)
The column with the greatest number of ticks indicates your preference
Question Away From Towards
1 B A
  D C
  F E
2 B A
  D C
  E F
3 A B
  F C
  E D
  • Questions 4, 5, 6 (Match / Mismatch)
    • Your preference will be indicated by whether you identified what was similar in each of the shapes.
1. They are all rectangles, they each have four corners and they all have straight sides.
2. They are all circles
3. They are all arrows, they all point roughly upwards.
The above are all examples of sorting for a match. If you have identified what was different in each, i.e. the mismatch, then you would have answers similar to the following:
4. Two are upright; one is on the side.
5. Two circles are smaller in size to the other four
6. Two arrows are pointing up and right and one is pointing up and left.
For questions 5 and 6, add up the number of ticks in each of the following columns.

The column with the greatest number of ticks indicates your preference 

  • Question 7 (Big Chunk / Small Chunk)
    • Your preference will be indicated by the number of words of each type. If you have a larger total for A,your preference is big chunk thinking. A larger total of B would indicate a preference for small chunk thinking.
  • Question 8 (Past / Present / Future)
Indicate which ones you ticked in the following columns.
The number ticked in each column indicates your relative preferences, i.e.,
highest score = most preferred style; lowest score = least preferred style.
Comment on Test
Our perception of reality is governed by the filters that we have. The test tries to identify our filters. Knowledge of our own filters, and also those of the persons we deal with, will help us in getting the best out of ourselves and others. A small explanation of what each of the filters mean is given below. 
  • Towards / Away from thinking: Do you take decisions because of liking or to avoid discomfort to self or others.
  • Match / Mismatch: Do you like order or you are comfortable in chaos.
  • Big Chunk / Small Chunk: When you think of a problem, are you more interested in the macro issues or are you interested in the details.
  •  Past / Present / Future: What part of time dominates your thinking.
If you have any question, suggestion or feedback, feel free to post it in the discussion box given below.