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Q:     How accurate are psychometric tests?

A:       Accurate is an imprecise term that can mean a number of different things. So rather than talking about how accurate psychometric tests are, psychologists refer to how reliable and valid tests are. All tests that are used for personnel selection and assessment should have a test manual, which reports statistics on that test’s reliability and validity. Clearly, some tests are more reliable and valid than others. To help test users choose the most appropriate test to meet their assessment needs, the British Psychological Society publishes independent reviews of tests.

Q:     Do psychometric tests work?

A:       There is now a wealth of published research demonstrating that psychometric tests predict job performance (e.g. Schmidt & Hunter, 1998; Barrick, Mount & Judge, 2001.

Q:     What do reasoning tests measure?

A:       Reasoning tests measure the ability to solve problems using logic and reasoning. Some tests measure general reasoning ability (i.e. the ability to solve a wide range of different kinds of logic problems), while others measure specific reasoning abilities (i.e. numerical reasoning, etc.).

Q:     But isn’t there more to intelligence than that which assessed by reasoning tests?

A:       There are different kinds of intelligence and reasoning ability is just one type of intelligence. Just because you may not be very good at (or you simply may not be interested in) solving abstract logic problems (which is what reasoning tests assess), doesn’t mean that you can’t be intelligent in other ways.

Q:     But surely intelligence isn’t everything?

A:       Success in your chosen field depends on many different factors, and intelligence (as assessed by reasoning tests) is only one of the many factors that effects career success. What’s more, reasoning ability is of only limited importance for many jobs. Success in life depends on many more things than simple reasoning ability (intelligence). A scientist with an IQ of 135 probably earns less money than a TV celebrity and, more importantly, would you rather you be happier being a scientist or a celebrity?

Q:     What do personality tests measure?

A:       Personality tests are based on trait theory. They are designed to measure personality traits, which are stable and enduring predispositions to act in a consistent way across a range of different situations (e.g. for a person to be sociable, out-going, friendly, talkative and participative in a wide rage of settings). In short, they measure the broad difference between people that we routinely observe and comment on in daily life.

Q:     Will a personality test assess the 'inner most workings of my mind'?

A:       No, they do not assess psychodynamic processes. They assess the broad differences between people, such as how Extraverted you are, etc.

Q:     What is the best type of personality to have?

A:       There is no such thing as a good or bad personality. Everybody is different. Everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses. What’s more, what may be a strength in one situation may be a weakness in another. For example, being extremely conscientious and attentive to detail may be useful for some jobs, but it may also result in you paying so much attention to detail that you can’t see the broader picture, resulting in you not being good at strategic thinking and possibly lacking creativity!

Q:     How easy is it to fake personality tests results?

A:       All personality tests that are used for selection and assessment purposes contain scales which are designed to assess overt attempts at faking test results. Most attempts at faking test results can be fairly easily detected by these motivational distortion scales. 

But perhaps more importantly, if you do manage to successfully fake a personality test you may well end up finding yourself in a job that you’re not suited for. For example, if you were able to successfully present yourself as being much more extraverted than you really are, in order to secure a sales job, you may quickly find yourself becoming stressed and having difficulty coping with the demands of having to constantly meet new people, strike up a rapport with them and try to persuade them to buy products from you. So it’s likely to be in your best interest, as well as being in your employer’s best interest, for you to complete a personality test in an honest and open way.

Q:     Do you have to be qualified to use psychometric tests?

A:       Test publishers will only sell psychometric tests to people who have passed the British Psychological Society’s qualification in psychometric test use. There are broadly three levels of qualification: qualification to administer and score tests, but not to interpret or feedback test results; qualification to administer, score, interpret and feedback reasoning test results; qualification to administer, score, interpret and feedback the results of both reasoning tests and personality tests.

Q:     What is good practise?

A:       The British Psychological Society provides guidelines for good practise. These include guidance on such things as: not supplying test materials to non-qualified people; maintaining the confidentiality of test results; providing feedback to candidates; using selection tests in an appropriate and valid manner, etc.






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