Putting online psychometric tests to work for you: Getting past the gatekeepers

Psychometric profiling (what we often call personality tests) has long been available in companies and universities to help with recruitment, selection, career progression, talent management, and career choice.

You’ve probably been there: in the college counseling office or HR department, filling in bubbles on a bunch of personality tests. You know the drill: You get a score, you get a label, and if you’re lucky, someone will explain your results and tell you how to use this information about your strengths and weaknesses. If you’re really lucky, you’ll find out that your answers matched what the company is looking for, and you move ahead in the application process. But if you’re unlucky (and a lot of us are), you’ll end up empty-handed, confused, and discouraged.

Psychometric profiling (what we often call personality tests) has long been available in companies and universities to help with recruitment, selection, career progression, talent management, and career choice. The principle behind psychometrics is quite simple: it measures your personality, motivation, interest, intelligence, performance, etc. in order to match your profile to a position, education, or career path. These are high-stakes and often high-quality tests, but they’re often designed to help the company find the right candidate rather than to help you find the right job for you.

But now, companies like Praditus want to take these tests out of the hands of the gatekeepers—the career counseling office or the HR department—and make quality online psychometric tests available when you need them. Now you can take a test whenever you want and wherever you want. You can share your information with your network, or you can (if you chose the right test) keep it to yourself.

As with all information that has become newly available online, you have to sort through a lot of trivia and ad-based content to find tests that are reliable, useful, and easy to understand. Some important things to look for when choosing a test:

  • Is it based on science? Check the website’s credentials and make sure the company uses professional psychometricians (a fancy term for test designers). Look for professional affiliations like ITC (International Test Commission) or APA (American Psychological Association).
  • Speaking of fancy terms, are the questions easy to understand, or is everything written in academic mumbo-jumbo? Even a scientifically designed test should be clear and easy to take.
  • Is it a little boring or repetitive? Sorry, but a good test has to repeat itself to be reliable. If all the questions are fun, your results probably won’t be very useful.
  • Do your results show some unflattering aspects of your personality? If the test results make you feel a little uncomfortable, chances are that it’s a good test: part of the journey of self-discovery is finding out where you need to grow.
  • Are your results confidential? Sometimes you take one of these tests only to find out you can’t move to the next step without sharing the results with your social media network. This is personal stuff; make sure you’re not forced to share.

Our company, Praditus, offers a fast, free, and friendly way to learn about your motivations, interests, skills, and personality, but it’s not the only interesting site out there.

Once you’ve found the right tests, you need to make the best possible use of the results. The first step is often to track your results on a sort of personal dashboard, comparing different results and compiling what makes you a strong candidate for one career or another. Once know your strengths and weaknesses, the most important thing you need to do is use them to brand yourself and highlight your soft skills. When you write that cover letter or go to that job interview, you’ll be armed with knowledge about the strengths employers are looking for and the key words (open, engaged, extroverted, etc.) they’re likely to look for.

Now that psychometric tools are available to everyone, people who are underemployed or looking for new opportunities should take full advantage of them. Instead of waiting for a company, a school, or a government office to test you, take the initiative and test yourself. Taking control of the testing game can help you not only understand these different tests and tools, but also determine what types of questions and results recruiters might use to make decisions. All this will lead to an informed and confident response when recruiters ask that dreaded question: “Tell us more about yourself”.

By Dr. Andrés Davila, Research Director at Praditus, professor of people management at ESCE Edited by Maria Crawford editor at Praditus

Psychometrics: field of study within psychology concerned with the theory and technique of measurement. Psychometrics generally refers to specialized fields within psychology and education devoted to testing, measurement, assessment, and related activities.

Educational measurement: Educational measurement refers to the use of educational assessments and the analysis of data such as scores obtained from educational assessments to infer the abilities and proficiencies of students.

Questionnaire: A questionnaire is a research instrument consisting of a series of questions (or other types of prompts) for the purpose of gathering information from respondents through survey or statistical study. The questionnaire was invented by the Statistical Society of London in 1838.

Psychology: scientific study of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of conscious and unconscious phenomena, including feelings and thoughts. It is an academic discipline of immense scope, crossing the boundaries between the natural and social sciences.