Preparing for Success in Psychometric Testing

Psychometric tests SHL CEB Cork

Many candidates become anxious when the  selection process includes an psychometric test. These tests are designed to measure your your intelligence, logic, reasoning ability, numerical ability and verbal ability. Most employers use a selection of tests. Some employers use tests related to specific types of work, for example, customer facing roles or managerial roles. 

The first test you complete should not be for your ideal job.
Complete a practice test at and read the advice  outlined below.

Before completing the Questionnaires or Tests

Plan when you are going to complete the psychometric test / questionnaire:

When scheduling your time, make sure you still have sufficient time to complete the test/questionnaire in order to achieve the required deadline just in case something unforeseen happens or something has changed your positive mindset.

Schedule the best time of day for you:

Think about the best time of day to complete the  ability tests or occupational personality questionnaire. Are you a morning or an evening person? When do you concentrate best, feel less stress and think objectively? If you complete the test at this time you are more likely to perform at your best.

Practice before hand: In each ability test or personality questionnaire, you will be provided with a few practice questions to become familiar with the process. Always ensure with the ability tests that you know how you calculated the correct answer before moving onto the main questions.

Consider using some of the practice questions available to you e.g. SHL’s practice section can be found at:

Plan and maintain a quiet, calm environment: When taking an ability test or completing an occupational personality questionnaire, it is vital that you maintain a quiet, non-interrupted environment all the way through the process. As many people complete these on-line tests and questionnaires at home, it is crucial that you anticipate any potential interruptions such as the telephone ringing, loud music starting up or the kids shouting to you, to ensure they are effectively “managed”. Check that you will be comfortable for the duration of the test/questionnaire before starting.

Maintain a positive frame of mind: Whilst it is helpful to visualise yourself being successful in completing an ability test, be aware of the danger of over confidence which can cause the candidate to pay insufficient attention to the details of the questionnaire and scan the questions rather than reading them. Having performed well in the practice run, remember the questions in the actual test are likely to be different ones and require your full attention.

Have sufficient resources to hand: Be sure you have some spare paper and a pen to hand in case you want to make notes while you are on-line. For some Numerical Reasoning tests, a calculator is allowed, so be sure you bring one with you .

Take a break between tasks: If you are completing several tests or questionnaires, it can be helpful to bring a drink and take appropriate breaks between these tests to ensure you maintain full concentration.

 During the SHL Questionnaire: Maintain your focused and pace yourself: While the  personality questionnaires are not timed, it is important to work quickly and avoid dwelling on the questions. Your first reaction is usually the most reflective of you. If you have planned your time well, you will probably want to complete the 100 questions at one time, but you can stop part way through the questionnaire and return at a later time should you need to.  You can always come back to the question at the end if you are unsure or think it may take too long to complete in the allocated time given.

Work through the questions steadily with no distractions.  Keep an eye on the time: If you are completing an ability test such as the Verbal or Numerical Reasoning test, you will be timed and the on-line system will just cut you off once the allocated time has elapsed. Therefore, plan out how long you have for each question based upon the time allocated for the test divided by the number of questions, and keep an eye on a clock or watch that you should have close to hand. Use all of the time allocated: Remember to use all of the time allocated to you. Even if you have finished the questions, take the final few minutes to review your answers to questions that you were not totally confident they were correct.

Focus on accuracy in SHL ability tests: Remember, ability tests are designed to cater for all levels of capability, which may mean for some of us that we do not answer every single question. Better to answer most of the questions correctly than to speed through the test with little attention to ensuring the answers are correct. A balance of speed and accuracy is required here to succeed. Press the completion and log out button: At the end of answering the questionnaire, please ensure you click on the completion button, which signifies that you are happy for your responses to be summarised into a report for the interviewer.

Having Completed the Questionnaire :

Ask for feedback: Having spent your time completing an SHL ability test or personality questionnaire, ask your interviewer for some feedback on your results or report. It is best practice to provide candidates with either verbal and/or written feedback as it enables you to develop further, whether you get the job or not.

Reflect on your responses: After completing the SHL ability test or personality questionnaire, reflect on your responses and how you applied yourself. What did you learn? What would you do differently next time? Make a note of the strategies that worked and the things you will do differently next time.