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Briefing your Candidate for Psychometric Assessment - Setting them up for Success

Being asked to complete a psychometric assessment can often be met with some confusion and trepidation. What are they testing? What happens if I fail? I hate taking tests, will this cost me the job? It is essential that candidates get a really clear and assured brief on the process to help them understand what is involved and how this information is used in the assessment process.

At ICP, we have over 20 years of experience in talking with candidates about how to approach a suite of psychometric assessments. As a valued client and contact of ICP, we recognise that it is something you may have to do occasionally and that you want to make sure you do it well and experience no unnecessary distractions in the process. The purpose of this article is to help equip you with the tools to brief a candidate and help them put their best foot forward in the process.

Whilst briefing a candidate is not overly complicated, it is essential that the conversation is managed clearly and effectively in order to ensure the person has the best opportunity to succeed. There can be an amount of technical information to explain and the candidate doesn’t always understand the purpose of these tests and questionnaires.

The word ‘assessment’ can also cause a bit of nervousness in the candidates’ mind. Here are the key points used by our Principal Psychologist Matt Dale during candidate briefings:

  1. Firstly, when we have the candidate on the phone, we like to make sure it is an appropriate time to talk and they have a few minutes to absorb all the information; so I will introduce myself and ask them if now is a good time to talk. I like to make sure that they are not too rushed and that they can talk confidentially.

  2. Second, we share an outline of the overall process and how the assessment fits with other aspects of how they are being engaged. We like to share how the information will be used and how it is applied. For example, we may comment that the assessment is a part of the recruitment process, or it is part of a development process, and that we will tailor a descriptive report that is shared with the hiring manager only. We like to highlight that it is largely strength-based and may also share some development tips and reference checking guidance.

  3. In this segment of the conversation we also share an overview of each element of the assessment; for example, we may mention that the assessment comprises a personality questionnaire, a few timed tests and a discussion with the Assessing Psychologist. We share how long each exercise takes and importantly how to get ready for the testing.

  4. When discussing how to prepare for the testing, some guidance may include making sure that they are in the right frame of mind and they will have no interruptions or distractions when doing the tests and questionnaires; one tip is to give themselves an ‘exam-style’ environment, where it is quiet and easy to concentrate. With respect to the timed tests, we mention that there is merit in doing some practice exercises beforehand and there are plenty of options to explore that is available on the web. With the personality questionnaire, our guidance is to ‘be yourself’ and work through the questions as quickly as possible, trusting that their responses will depict their strengths.

  5. Lastly, let them know if they have any questions, they can contact you and if there are any complications with the assessment, to let you know so you can re-setup the test. This will take away a lot of the anxiety around the testing.

When you are talking with your candidates, here are a few more pointers that might be helpful:

  • Assessment is not a ‘pass/fail exercise’, but rather an objective process that describes working style, leadership style, preferences, what motivates you as well as problem-solving style and ability. On the most part, assessment takes your responses to standardised questions and reflects them compared to a relevant sample, so naturally the vast majority of the assessment report describes what you know about yourself.

  • Set yourself up for success – take the test in an environment with NO distractions (not even a ding from your mobile) and we suggest not trying to look after children at the same time. Do the test at the time of day you feel you work best. And allow plenty of time as to not rush through important questions. Make sure your internet is reliable and won’t drop out mid test.

  • Practice – it is easy to find practice tests online, all be it that won’t be the exact same questions, it will provide a similar format and will give you an understanding on what to expect. This practice will make you more comfortable when you do take the test.

  • Answer honestly and to the best of your ability – this test will reveal your fit to the role, therefore you can just relax and do your best. You’ll likely find by relaxing you’ll perform better and will show your prospective colleague and manager what to expect from you as an employee.

If we can support you with any further information or guidance through this process, please don’t hesitate to contact us. At ICP we are proudly one of Australia’s leading psychometric assessment providers and place enormous value on our bespoke service tailored for each client and candidate. Please feel free to contact us if you would like to learn more or discuss our services in more detail.


(Testgrid, “Busting Myths About Psychometric Testing Edition #2”, 2019)

(Yale Office of Career Strategy, 2019)

(The University of Queensland, “Ten ways to succeed in psychometric tests”, 2015)

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