In the process of job selection, recruiters frequently use psychometric and skills tests. Both of them are used as a means of finding the most suitable applicants for a certain position. How to identify what each type entails and how they differ?
Although at the first sight, they might seem similar, they are actually different. In particular, the main differences lie in the following aspects:
Properly designed psychometric tests include complex statistical analyses and data and are also based on sound theory. As the tests are grounded on solid research, one can be assured that the tests properly measure individual results and properly compare them to the normative data (which was gathered on other people before).
One of the examples of psychometric tests is a cognitive test that measures a person's ability to find solutions to novel problems. This ability is in other words called 'fluid intelligence.' According to the numerous researches and theoretical findings, Matrices is known to be a perfect test to measure 'fluid intelligence'. It is a kind of a puzzle one has to solve and complete the pattern by finding the missing next piece.
The Matrices is a reliable test that was based on the research and was tested empirically on large groups of people. The normative data can help to identify the performance of job seekers as below average, average or above average.
Skills tests relate more to more discrete and specific abilities. For instance, tests on Microsoft Office help assess practical skills and knowledge of users regarding the MS Office programs application. Instead of being based on some general theoretical knowledge of the programs, these tests aim to evaluate practical usage of MS Word, MS Excel, MS Power Point, MS Outlook, etc. The test results will help identify which skills the users already have and which areas of improvement there are. They also help to evaluate skills as basic, intermediate or advanced.
Personality tests as well as cognitive ability tests indicate the quality of performance in any working environment. Among the widely applicable tests are those related to cognitive ability and also followed by specific aspects of personality, namely conscientiousness.
Concerning skills tests, they identify whether an individual is able to use a specific program required by the job he/ she applies for. Skills tests are not aimed at identifying general abilities or whether a person is suitable for a position as a whole. For example, a secretary will surely require typing skills and knowledge of MS Word, and an accountant will need to know how to use MS Excel. Further, a personal assistant will require advanced or at least intermediate skills in MS Word, whereas it will suffice for an office assistant to have only basic skills.
Psychometric tests are widely applicable. The in-depth research that serves as a cornerstone of the tests helps us to conclude what is the specific aim of using these tests in the workplace. How well a person can perform in cognitive ability tests can indicate whether a person has the required skills and abilities for the wanted job. For example, a position may require an eye for detail or proficient skills in team work. Therefore, such tests will measure how well a person can work in a team, under pressure or with set deadlines. Such tests may also be used to identify the level of sociability or how quickly a person can react in cases of emergency.
Unlike psychometric tests, skills tests have a narrower area of applicability. As a rule, they are used to define which level of skills a job candidate has (basic, intermediate or advanced). As a rule, the tested skills refer to only some of the many that are necessary for a certain job.
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