Five common types of psychological tests used in employee selection

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Five common types of psychological tests used in employee selection
Assessing the interviewee (Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

In today's bleak economy, there are plenty of people on the look-out for a job. As a result, employers are faced with greater choices when it comes to who they decide to take on board. But those same employers are becoming more and more discerning. And they are using a variety of psychological tests to determine if you're right for the job, or if you get a response that begins along the lines of: "I'm sorry to have to inform you..."

Finding the right person for the job

One of the most important factors when it comes to determining the right person for the job is the applicant's social skills. A firm handshake, a confident appearance and approach, and the ability to look a person in the eye are all good qualities, particularly if the job you're applying for means liaising with the public. Employers know this, and how you present yourself may be a deciding factor. You may also be required to take a written test that, even if you're not aware of it, will tell them a great deal regarding whether or not you have the personality and psychological make-up to meet the challenge and act as a public face of the company.

The importance of intelligence

Paramount in any job interview is the ability of the interviewee to demonstrate intelligence. No employer wants to offer a career to someone who is going to require constant coaching, even after the training period is over. Many of the answers your potential future boss may require about your intelligence levels will surface in a written test. A well-trained interviewer, however, will have the skills to quickly size you up, psychologically, when it comes to whether you really do have the brains required, or if it's all a big bluff.

Digging into the past

You may be surprised to learn how much a potential employer can learn about you by digging into your work history. Interviewers are encouraged to look for certain body-language-based responses when doing so. If, when reviewing the CV of a possible candidate, a question about previous employment results in an arms-folded, defensive posture, a red face, and stuttering words, then, from a psychological perspective, the interviewer has just learned a great deal. Much of it potentially troubling for you if you quit your last job under a cloud.

Seizing the moment

There is one particular type of psychological testing that companies are always keen to make use of. It revolves around the candidate's ability to show initiative. An interviewer may ask what appears to be everyday questions about how you might handle a particularly troublesome matter in the work-place. Or the ways and means by which you would handle a serious, unforeseen event that might adversely affect the company. If all they get from you is a blank stare and an awkward silence, you've blown it. Seizing the moment will allow the boss to see you as a "can-do"-style person who can be relied on. And all it took was your psychological response to a simple question.

Knowing the job

Depending on the type of job your applying for, any employer will want to see that you are actually conversant, to some significant degree, with the nature of the position that you might find offered to you. Let's say you're applying for a job in the field of marketing and selling mobile-phones. Your interviewer may bring up what appear to be wholly innocent questions and observations about market-trends, latest developments, new technologies and so on. If, however, all you know is that which you quickly Googled ten minutes before the interview, believe us, your interviewer will see right through you.

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