Home > Get Ahead > Careers > Workplace
Your dream job is just a test away
Dhruv, IMS Learning Resources |
September 09, 2005
The competition is stiff in the job market.
Everyone wants a well-paying job, with great growth prospects, in a good company.
How does the recruiting panel cope with this surge of applicants?
Don't be surprised if you find yourself taking psychological tests.
In fact, corporates like, TCS, Escosoft Technologies, ICICI, TVA Infotech, UB, Bharati and LG often use what are known as psychometric tests.
These work as a filter and helps the human resources department select the most suitable candidate for their company.
What are psychometric tests?
~ Designed by psychology professionals, these are highly standardised, scientific tools that measure various aspects of human performance or behaviour.
~ Psychometric tests cover areas ranging from intelligence, aptitude, values, emotions, motivation, personality, etc.
~ They have been created for three main reasons:
i. It is easier to get information from candidates through tests rather than through interviews/ counselling.
ii. The information from these tests is more scientifically consistent than the information from an interview/ counselling session.
iii. It is harder to get away with lying on a test than in an interview/ counselling session.
~ Depending on diverse factors like the need, age group and situation, psychometric tests have a wide variety of applications, right from recruiting candidates for employment, to diagnosing children with learning problems in school.
~ Besides recruitment, they are also used for career guidance, self-awareness, understanding strengths and weaknesses, training and clinical purposes (to diagnose mental abnormalities and certain specific disorders).
~ Apart from catering to selection needs, tests also furnish employers with details regarding skills or personality traits that need to be upgraded/ worked upon.
This is taken care of by providing training programmes either on technical skills or in areas like stress management, assertiveness training, risk taking ability, time management, etc.
~ Employers also use these tests to evaluate an individual's suitability for promotion.
Testing more that just aptitude
Taking into consideration the global scenario, most companies are in constant need of individuals who fit job requirements very precisely -- not just in terms of knowledge, skills and background, but also in terms of personal attributes.
Employers, while scanning applications for a specific profile, look out for candidates who can perform in a particular way.
They may use tests that assess aptitudes for manual dexterity and speed, mechanical ability, spatial ability, reasoning, abstract reasoning, clerical work, and numerical and verbal abilities.
Other than aptitude tests, there are tests which give employers an indication of your personality by placing you on a scale of introversion/ extroversion, assertiveness/ submissiveness, self-reliance/ group dependence, etc.
For example, if the post were that for a sales staff, employers would look out for a profile of a candidate who is confident, persuasive and outgoing.
How valid are such tests?
One could refute the validity of psychometric tests on the ground that candidates will answer in a way they think will please the employers.
But a small word of caution to prospective job applicants -- it is extremely important that you refrain from faking in the tests.
Psychometric tests (especially the personality tests) have an in-built mechanism of detecting false responses. This is done by means of differently worded statements, which measure candidates on the same feature.
For instance, if extroversion/ introversion is assessed by the test, the presence or absence of the same trait could be gauged by your responses to five different statements.
i. I take the initiative in introducing myself to others in any social gathering.
ii. I'm usually in the limelight at a party.
iii. I wait for other people to come and talk to me in a party.
iv. I often feel totally out of place in a social gathering.
v. I seem to make friends about as quickly as others do.
Besides, employers almost never use test results in isolation. They base their decision of recruiting candidates on test results, but they give more weightage to the insights they gather from the interview.
So, even if you happen to give acceptable answers in the test, the interviewers will sense the discrepancy between what you claim you are in the test and how you respond to questions and present yourself in the interview.
Even if you sail through the test and interview undetected, and somehow get the job, employers will still see through it simply because your performance will not be as good as indicated by the test and in the interview.
There is also a more important reason to desist from faking.
As already mentioned, a particular job will require you to have a certain combination of traits.
Giving false responses would only land you a job you are not cut out for, resulting in job dissatisfaction.
So just be yourself and answer honestly and hope for the best.
5 useful insights
i. There are generally no 'right' or 'wrong' answers.
ii. Do not ponder too long over a question. Give the first response that comes to your mind when you read the question.
iii. Do not miss any question.
iv. Be honest; give answers that you feel describe you best.
v. If you feel stuck on a question, mark the answer that would best describe how you would behave in eight situations out of 10.
8 tips to help you do well in psychometric tests
Many of these points may seem like common sense, but it would help if you follow them.
i. Get a good night's sleep.
ii. If you wear glasses or a hearing aid, carry them along.
If you have any disability, inform the test administrator about it beforehand.
iii. Don't go for the test on an empty stomach. Research shows that skipping meals reduces intellectual performance.
iv. Stay calm; anxiety can affect your performance adversely.
Try to remember that ability tests usually measure underlying potential rather than overt knowledge.
v. Psychometric tests normally need no prior preparation.
If you have an idea of what type of test to expect, for example, numerical ability, then you might practice a few sums before you appear for the actual test.
vi. Try to maintain both speed and accuracy, especially for timed tests.
vii. You will almost certainly be taken through a practice or instruction stage before the test begins.
This will give you the chance to try one or two practice items, before the actual test.
Listen carefully to the instructions given by the test administrator.
viii. Get the most out of the examples or practice session. Do not hesitate to ask questions.
If you need a little more time for practice, ask for it.
The bottomline is -- to try and look at psychometric tests as an aide to the right job rather than as an obstacle, which must be overcome.
Dhruv is the Career Development Division of IMS, which imparts career counselling and vocational guidance, helps students to make career choices and enhances critical skills via workshops, outbound programmes, fun-based learning programmes and hobby development workshops.
Web site: www.imsindia.com/dhruv/index.htm