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Psychometric Testing

A psychometric test is a type of ability test that has been designed according to certain scientific principles. Because they are based on lots of research and subject to lots of testing to see if they work, they are regarded as reliable indicators of whatever performance area they are testing.

Psychometric tests are lists of multiple choice questions, often in a paper booklet if you take them on the assessment day or on-line if you are asked to do them from home in advance. You will usually have a set amount of time to complete them, and may run out of time before you have finished.

They may be used as part of an early sift in an promotions process. They aren’t always popular with Firefighters because they might not always seem as relevant to the role they are applying for as job simulation exercises are. Results are based on correct or incorrect answers, unlike job simulation assessments which measure performance in a different way. Final scores are compared to a sample population to see how well you have done. Some Firefighters don’t like this approach because the population they are measured against are not specific to Firefighters. Neither are the tests designed specifically with Firefighters in mind.

Psychometric tests are purchased from test publishers for use in a wide range of organisations. Only qualified people can administer and score them. You also need to have had training to analyse and feedback the results.

There are many different versions of tests each developed by the different test publishers. FRS will purchase the ones they are most impressed with.

Use in the FRS

There is a lot of inconsistency in the FRS as to which tests are used, why and when. Some don’t use any at all. Some use them for senior or support staff posts. Some use them for FRS within their FF promotion process.

In general, you are most likely to encounter:

  • Numerical reasoning tests (mathematics)
  • Verbal reasoning tests (your ability to think through and evaluate written statements)
  • Spatial reasoning tests (how you understand and mentally manipulate shapes)

There is another type of test which looks at your responses to potential scenarios. These are known as Situational Judgement (SJT) Tests or Management Judgement tests.

Situational Judgement Tests

This is a multiple choice question test. You’ll be given an example scenario and a list of possible actions that you could take in that situation.

You need to follow the instructions and either:

  • a) choose the best action from the list
  • b) Choose your most and least preferred actions
  • c) rank order the actions from most to least appropriate/ preferred
  • d) Another way the SJT might be presented is for there to be a paragraph detailing the scenario then three or four questions based on it. You would need to indicate on a rating scale how desirable the action is in response to each question e.g. highly desirable, desirable, slightly desirable, slightly undesirable, undesirable, highly undesirable’.

You will be given instructions in writing and verbally by an administrator to explain what you have to do.

Often you will notice that there is one answer which is obviously incorrect. However, there may be at least two which are more difficult to choose from as the correct one.

You are looking for the MOST effective answer – it doesn’t have to be the perfect choice.

There may not be a strict time limit, although there will be an expectation of how long it should take- often around 45 minutes, depending on the number of questions.

What sort of scenarios will the questions be based on?

The scenarios will mostly be based on general management. They won’t be based on situations that you’d only find in the Fire & Rescue Service. An SJT isn’t knowledge based; it’s about applying your experience to make a judgement call. There is no need to study in the traditional sense, although there are ways you can use to improve your performance

Example SJT questions (using scoring format a) detailed above):

  • Question 1
  • Answer
Two members of your team had an argument on shift last week about a private matter. You have been informed by another member of the team that their difference of opinion is causing friction within the team.

1. Ask all members of the team for their perspective on what they think the problems are.

2. Arrange to meet with the individuals concerned and encourage them to tell you what the issues are.

3. Warn both individuals that they need to deal with their issues or face disciplinary action.

4. Tell both individuals that it is unacceptable for personal matters to be permitted to affect the team.

The correct answer here is 2.
  • Question 2
  • Answer
Two members of your team had an argument on shift last week about a private matter. You have been informed by another member of the team that their difference of opinion is causing friction within the team.

1. Send an email to your team explaining the company’s position

2. Arrange to meet with each team member one to one to hear their though

3. Hold a team meeting where you can explain the situation to everyone at the same time

4. Send a formal letter to each member of staff requesting their preference for redundancy or relocation

The correct answer here is 3.

Click here for more examples and practice questions

Next Page: How can you pass your Psychometric Test?

The beauty of this sort of test, from an organisational point of view is that it provides a quick ‘snapshot’ of how you think….