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Psychometrics FAQ: Answering all your questions about psychometric assessments

February 22, 2024

Understanding the human brain is one of life’s greatest mysteries. Scientists and psychologists have spent centuries trying to learn how our minds work, and in a workplace context, it can mean the difference between making a good or a bad hire.

More and more businesses are sending out psychometric assessments in an attempt to make better hiring decisions. However, the subject can be complex. For this reason, we gathered the most frequently asked questions about psychometrics.

What are psychometric tests?

The term ‘psychometrics’ might sound daunting, however, it simply means measuring the mind. Psychometric assessments try to quantify psychological elements such as traits, behaviours, or cognitive processes, and understand how they relate to different factors of human life (for example, job or academic performance). The field of psychometric assessments combines psychology, analytics, statistics, and behavioural science.

Further reading: The history and future of psychometrics

What is psychometric testing in recruitment?

As mentioned above, psychometric assessments aren’t detached from context: it’s not enough to understand someone has a certain trait, but how it impacts their lives. One of the more common fields where psychometrics are helpful is in the context of work.

Psychometric tests are used by employers in many ways, particularly in the hiring process. If you ever had to take a compatibility test at the interview stage, it’s likely that you engaged with a psychometric assessment. There are many ways businesses can use psychometric assessments to support their company culture and employee wellbeing, and by assessing their candidates’ skills, personality and cognitive abilities, employers use psychometrics to ensure applicants fit the role, team, and company.


Different roles require different abilities and would benefit from different personalities. For example, an accountant would need to be detail-oriented, conscientious, and follow rules. A firefighter, on the other hand, would need to be more risk-taking, be able to think on their feet, and be extremely adaptable and open to change.

This is why it’s so important to tailor the assessment to the particular role you’re looking for. The Thrive assessment has thousands of different roles to choose from, matched to the most important traits and abilities according to our team of occupational psychologists.

By assessing a candidate with a psychometric test, employers are able to review whether their character and cognitive abilities match the requirements of the role. In interviews, managers can ask more informed questions based on the assessment, trying to understand if the applicant is aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and how (or if) they deal with situations that require the skills or traits they lack.

“It’s not like there’s a weakness and there’s nothing that people can do to adapt in business environments to overcome this. But during the hiring process, you need to be able to get to the stories of when and how they’ve actually done that. It creates another layer at the second stage interview which is really beneficial.”

-Jessica Brewer, HR Consultant for Odysea, in our recent case study


It’s not enough to be able to do the job well — hiring managers today know that they should look at the team as a whole, and not just as the individuals comprising it. Figuring out what skill and personality gaps they have in their team, and then assessing applicants, companies are able to pick candidates that complement the team perfectly.

Another way employers use psychometric assessments to strengthen their teams is by identifying high performers and creating a template personality that will help them to quickly pick out those with the most potential.

“We're seeing many businesses adjust their recruitment to be more data-based. For example, companies do this by getting data from their top performers, using that data to run a gap analysis for diversity of thought, while also understanding the specific traits and behaviours they’re looking for. Then they utilise the data to inform their hiring, asking appropriate questions in interviews, and getting an objective understanding. They then make their decisions based on data they've gathered in this process.”

-Tristan Jermyn, Head of Sales at Thrive, in our recent white paper


Businesses also want to ensure new hires match their company culture and ethos. Some psychometric assessments, such as Thrive, allow you to add traits yourself according to your organisation’s particular needs and values. Employers use this to understand whether a candidate is suitable to work in the environment the business provides.

Are psychometric tests accurate?

Psychometric assessments are a powerful tool with much scientific backing behind them. While, like anything in life, they’re not 100% accurate, psychometric tests that have been properly developed and reviewed can be extremely reliable and valid.

When you look for a psychometric provider, you should ensure that they rely on scientifically backed psychological theories, such as the Big Five model. Beyond that, the assessment itself should have gone through rigorous testing and reviews, and score high on validity and reliability.

Assessments that have been properly and scientifically studied for this can be as reliable and valid as any other medical test — sometimes even more! However, we recommend not using psychometric assessments as the only factor in your recruitment process — This is using a psychometric assessment alongside structured interviews is a great way to make a more holistic choice.

Further reading: How to choose a psychometric assessment provider

Are psychometric tests discriminatory?

Some claim that administering psychometric tests is discriminatory. While assessments are used as ‘gate-keepers’, meaning they help make a hiring decision, when conducted appropriately, they can be fair. What’s more, when done right, they add a non-human element to your hiring process, which can help make it less biased.

Using an appropriate provider would mean their assessments have gone through testing, ensuring they are highly valid and reliable for various groups of people, regardless of location, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, or any other factor. Providers should also offer certain privileges to neurodivergent people or candidates with disabilities, such as additional time, larger fonts, and text-to-speech.

All of these mean that, as long as you opt for a scientifically-backed psychometric provider, psychometric assessments are not discriminatory — and can actually help you add a relatively objective factor to your decision-making.

How to pass a psychometric test

In this article, we’ve referred to two types of psychometric assessments: personality and cognitive ability. The Thrive platform offers both.

Personality assessment

When it comes to personality tests, psychometric assessments don’t have right and wrong answers — they’re trying to paint a rough picture of a candidate’s traits in an attempt to understand them. This means there’s not really a way to ‘pass’ a test like this — you simply need to read the instructions carefully and answer the questions truthfully.

There is disagreement among scientists on whether you can ‘improve’ a personality trait. However, how people behave is something that’s always open for improvement! There are some skills and competencies you can develop that will help you function more appropriately with certain weaknesses some traits may cause. If your scores are lower on some desirable traits, you can work on improving those individually, depending on the competency. For example, if you want to develop your adaptability, you can try to challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone, or find a different solution to a problem you’ve solved the same way for a long time.

As employers, using personality assessments in decision-making makes it vital to treat the results as a guide rather than a static reality. Exactly because people can develop these aspects of their psyche, it’s crucial that you consider the weaker points together with the candidate, exploring how they’ve been improving and handling situations.

Regardless, you should offer your employees development opportunities to help them improve their scores. In the Thrive platform, you can use the development tool to support your employees based on their scores, to ensure a truly tailored experience.

Further reading: Why is development important?

Cognitive assessment

Cognitive tests’ nature is that the questions do have right and wrong answers. However, what’s important to understand is that some of these assessments are often built so that it is humanly impossible to answer all questions in the time constraints provided, while providing some extremely tough questions that no one is expected to be able to quickly answer. They’re not simply testing your ability to perform the task, but also how quickly and how you do it under pressure, and how you handle difficult situations.

You can find practise questions to understand the nature of the assessment, depending on what kind of cognitive assessment you’re going to take. The common ones are:

  • Numerical reasoning
  • Verbal reasoning
  • Logical reasoning

When you start taking the assessment, it’s important that you make time to take it from start to finish in one sitting, and have a pen and paper with you if you need to jot things down. Read the instructions carefully, as not all tests take the same format. Don’t spend too much time on each question — try to answer intuitively, even if it means making some educated guesses.

Want to learn how Thrive’s market-leading psychometric assessments can help your business? Book a demo with us today.

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