Psychometrics

Aug 9th, 2010 | By | Category: abundance, application, aptitude, Career advice, career challenges, career choices, challenges, economy, job description, mentor, personality, persuasion, problem, recession, retraining, skills, success, training

This week there was a lot buzz about Psychometrics and other job screening techniques.  questionsIt is probably a sign of the times, as employers are flooded with applications for all available jobs.  The idea of psychometric testing and correlating traits with aptitude and performance is becoming main stream.  So how do you prepare for psychometric tests?

Psychometric tests are bootstrapping and leveraging the results of each generation of tests to design the next set.  So the are always changing and being refined. By collecting data on the performance of those who have taken a test, researchers correlate how well the questions and answers predict performance and personality traits.  Most of us our familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality test that reduces everyone to one of 16 combinations of 4 personality traits. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers-Briggs_Type_Indicator).  Based on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) there is some prediction of how well certain types will perform on the job. Although mostly used to help determine aptitudes, these tests are gaining popularity in hiring.  There are other tests besides MBTI that have hit the market and are gaining acceptance as hiring and promotional tools.  Bear in mind that as litigation increases regarding hiring and promotions (The New York Fire Department has been in the news all week for discriminatory hiring practices.)  Tests and testing are going to become a major factor in protecting companies from hiring and promotion lawsuits. So get ready to be tested, either when you are applying for a job, or seeking a promotion.

The best way to prepare for psychometric tests is to do some research.  There are several sites on line that offer free aptitude and personality tests.  Of course with a free test you will always get encouraging news no matter how you score so don’t take the tests so much to see how you do, but what the questions are like and what they are looking for.  For example the MBTI has been around a long time and there is wealth of information on the attributes of the different types.  By studying the different traits and aptitudes you can determine which would be most desirable for different jobs.  There is also a lot of information what types of careers best suits different types.  If you were an employer you would just turn that around.  For example if an employer were looking for a sales person they would not pick someone who was introverted, you would want an extravert that enjoys dealing with people.  So if you test as an introvert and want to pursue a career in sales you could review the test questions to determine which ones measures your introvert/extrovert qualities.  Although the questions may vary from test to test the theme will be the same.  When it asks about interacting with people it is a good bet it measuring extrovert/introvert.  By becoming aware of the types of questions and how different answers are scored you can coach your self to test whatever MBTI you want. For example, if you are going for an engineering position you may want produce a MBTI of INTJ.  With a little practice you will be able to score the MBTI that best suits your purposes.  The other tests are similar.  Do be careful of what we used to call the idiot tests in the military. That is when they ask the same question worded a little differently to check the consistency of your answers.  So if you like to be around people for question 1 it is a good idea to still like social gatherings in question 10.

Although many psychological tests have trick questions to guard against gaming the system, the tests have to be standardized to be creditable.  So with a little homework you can produce almost any results you want on a psychological test.  Although I think it is appropriate to familiarize yourself with any device that used to measure or quantify you, I do not recommend going too far outside of your comfort zone.  As in the example above if you are truly an introvert and do not like dealing with people, a career as a sales person will be stressful and most probably unsuccessful. To quote Shakespeare in Hamlet “To Thine Own Self Be True.”

In the military, police department, fire departments, etc. there are already tests for hiring and promoting employees.  Although job performance is still a factor in more and more situations, it is how well you do on the test that determines whether you are hired or promoted.  The idea of testing is gaining ground in all career fields and disciplines.  The questions are also creeping into interviews. Be alert when your boss asked what you did this weekend.  Stayed in and read a book?  Introvert.  Visited with some friends? Extravert.   My advice is to spend some free time looking over some of the psychometric sites and familiarize with the types of questions they ask and how they interpret the answers.  Get ahead of the game and start weaving the personality and aptitudes you want to project into your daily conversations.  I feel they could have handled it better.  (Feeling person.)  I think they could have handled it better.  (Thinking person)  Project the personality you want, and soon it will be yours.  The PracticaL Mentor

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