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Trinity College Dublin

Selection Tests

There are two main types of psychometric tests used.

  • Ability tests or Cognitive tests.
  • Personality tests.


Ability Testing

Typically includes:

  • Verbal reasoning.
  • Numerical reasoning.
  • Diagrammatic reasoning.

Verbal Reasoning tests your ability to understand and reason with written information. The test consists of a series of passages, each of which is followed by several statements. Your task is to evaluate each statement in the light of the passage, which precedes it.

Numerical Reasoning looks at your ability to understand facts and figures usually presented in the form of tables, charts and graphs. These are usually done using a calculator.

Diagrammatic Reasoning looks at your ability to reason with abstract information presented within logical sequences and to apply them in the form of symbols and diagrams. This test is normally used when employers are looking for IT personnel.


Personality Tests

  • Used sometimes as part of the selection process to draw up a profile of your typical reactions and attitudes to a range of situations.
  • Questions focus on a number of personality factors such as:
    • How you relate to others.
    • Your workstyle.
    • Your emotions.
    • Your general outlook on life or attitude.
    • What you say about yourself is often the basis for further discussion at interview.
  • There are no right or wrong answers.
  • Best way to approach these tests is to answer them as honestly as you can. Guessing what the employer is looking for is often difficult and could be counter productive.


One company's approach to testing

Karen Newsham is a personnel officer with Eastern Group.

"Psychometric testing is a useful 'tool', which can be used to gauge an individual's aptitude or personality. It should provide supplementary information on a candidate that the employer cannot get from any other source, such as general intellect, logical thinking processes and behavioural style, but should never be regarded as giving the full picture. Many recruiters use tests as part of their selection process to add value, provide back up, to give an additional insight into candidates and to verify points coming out of interview.

We use a range of tests at different stages of the selection process and for different types of job role. These include ability, personality and attainment tests and also specialist tests such as mechanical comprehension and spatial ability.

Managers are often looking for people with potential to develop and who will 'fit' into their team. Personality tests provide information on the individual's view of themselves, which can be used to help make a decision about whether they are suited to a role.

It is crucial that questions are answered honestly - after all it is your perception of you! Tests have checks written in to spot manipulation of outcomes.

From an employer's perspective, the advantages of psychometric testing are that they can provide additional information and insight into a candidate, and are objective and predictive. Using verified tests as part of an overall selection process can help to minimise the potential pitfalls and maximise the value of testing."

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