What is a Psychometric Career Test

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Personality tests are all the rage. You can find them on the Internet, in magazines and in guides, they are used in assessment centers when selecting applicants and also in psychotherapy and research. Depending on their origin, they differ in their usefulness. Some of the personality tests are not based on scientific theories and tests and are therefore of limited use.

Ultimately, personality tests are procedures to obtain the most comprehensive possible picture of a person's characteristics. In doing so, it is not the individual's professional competence that is checked, but rather their emotional strengths and weaknesses. These tests have different purposes depending on the area of ​​application. You can simply test yourself or get tested to find out more about yourself. Or you will be tested as part of a psychotherapeutic treatment in order to optimize the treatment methods. Personality tests are also used more and more frequently for personnel selection.

The test person is either asked questions or is provoked with the help of stimulus material. Depending on the method, the procedures are differently reliable and also recognized. Personality tests usually have to meet certain criteria. Personality tests should initially be based on a scientific theory and must have been carried out on a sufficient number of people. However, one should be aware that such tests do not fully describe personality. Good tests can at most determine tendencies.


A distinction is made between two possible procedures for personality tests. On the one hand there are psychometric tests - also known as objective tests - and on the other hand there are projective tests.

Psychometric tests usually consist of questions in the form of questionnaires or questions asked orally. The resulting results are compared with the average values ​​of the tests carried out so far. This method aims to quantitatively measure the characteristics of people, for example creativity or logical thinking skills. Such tests include questionnaires, intelligence tests and aptitude tests from job interviews and assessment centers. Professional psychometric methods are based on a scientific theory and are subject to a mathematical model. In addition, a sufficient amount of results data must be available to be able to compare new results with them. Such tests determine a person's position within a group.

Projective tests, on the other hand, do not consist of specifically asked questions at all. Ambiguous visual material is presented to the test persons, which they should describe and interpret. Alternatively, there are also methods in which the test persons have to create their own image material, which is then interpreted. Often these tests are generally not as recognized and require a great deal of experience on the part of the tester. However, they are also highly valued by experienced testers and can be very insightful.

Psychometric tests

In psychometric tests, the test person answers questions. The answers are then evaluated manually or with the aid of a computer. This method has the advantage that it is mostly based on reliable figures and is therefore more credible. However, critics think that it would be easy to manipulate the tests, as the question often suggests the character traits that are to be explored. Control questions, which then check the consistency of the statements, are intended to resolve this problem. Examples of psychometric tests are, for example, the NEO-TIPI (Trier Integrated Personality Inventory) and the HPI (Hamburg Personality Inventory).

The most commonly used test worldwide is the Myers-Briggs type indicator. This is a questionnaire that aims to reveal certain basic features of the test person's behavior. It is based on the basic assumption that human behavior is not random and at the same time classifiable and different. The method distinguishes between four basic types: people who perceive sensually and evaluate analytically, people who perceive and evaluate emotionally, people who perceive and evaluate emotionally and people who perceive intuitively and evaluate analytically. Depending on the situation, these people are then classified as practical, likeable, creative or inventive.

Many such tests, which consist of questions, can also be found on the Internet or in magazines. Such tests want to assess whether you can assert yourself, for example, whether you are creative or what kind of guy you are.

Projective tests

Common and well-known projective tests are, for example, the Rorschach test, in which you are presented with ink blots for interpretation, or the thematic apperception test, where you have to interpret ambiguous images. In addition to these tests, in which a pattern or pictures are presented, there are also tests in which you should paint pictures or patterns yourself. This includes, for example, the tree drawing test, in which you should paint yourself as a tree. For children, tests in this area are known as “family in animals” or “family in trees”. All of these tests are accused of not meeting the required criteria. Nevertheless, they are still used and are especially popular with experienced psychologists.

In all of these tests, you should usually assess yourself together with the tester and thus draw valuable conclusions from them. The Hermann Dominance Instrument is based on a similar idea. It assumes that everyone has certain tendencies in the areas of behavior and thinking. These develop from upbringing, during training and in the social environment. These tendencies determine how a person behaves in everyday life. It's actually not a test, but more of a self-assessment. The model is based on the knowledge that there are functional differences between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. While the left half is responsible for logical thinking, the right side is responsible for creativity and emotions. The procedure divides people's ways of thinking into four categories: rational, experimental, needy of security and sentimental. This results in a person's skills, style and interests. It can also be used to determine how a person affects their environment. It should be clear to everyone who carries out the self-test that he can only reproduce reality to a limited extent and only reveals a tendency in terms of strengths and weaknesses.


Personality tests were originally used primarily in the field of research and the psychotherapeutic treatment of patients. From such tests, with the help of test subjects, research can learn a lot about the depth of the human personality and develop theories about it. In psychotherapeutic treatment, personality tests can be used to find out more about the patient and thus improve their treatment.

Personality tests can also be found in many magazines and also freely on the Internet. Such tests are generally not as reliable and are not based on scientific theories. With such freely accessible tests we humans try to find out more about ourselves again and again. We want to know our strengths so that we can hide or mitigate our weaknesses. We want to know how others might think of us and what we are good at. It is important not to randomly perform an infinite number of tests and to answer the tests honestly rather than trying to steer the result in the desired direction. This is the only way in the end you can really learn something about your own weaknesses and strengths.

Personality tests are also becoming more and more widespread in the area of ​​personnel selection. They should be able to better assess the soft skills of the applicants in order to avoid hiring applicants only based on their obvious performance. This procedure is intended to test in advance whether the applicant has really grown for the position and is communicative and assertive enough to withstand the pressure.

Reliability and manipulability

Depending on where the test comes from and who is performing it, the reliability and manipulability can vary greatly. Tests from the internet and magazines are generally not as reliable as they are not scientifically based. In addition, their question is often so transparent that one can read out the assessed character trait and steer the answer in the right direction.

In general, psychometric tests can be said to be more reliable than projective tests. This is because psychometric personality tests are based on scientific theories and mathematical methods. In addition, there is usually a high comparative amount in such tests, i.e. there is data from people who have previously carried out the test. Based on their data, one can better classify the individual test person. After all, what use is it if the result is a number that is not comparable with other numbers. Such a number is practically useless. In an emergency, it only says that the test was not designed well enough. Since you cannot independently compare tests that you have carried out on the Internet or in magazines with other results, they usually do not help you much.

Well done projective tests can reveal a lot about a person's personality. However, such tests are usually not based on any scientific theory and neither are comparative data.

Personality tests are generally said to be easy to manipulate, as the question reveals the meaning of the question and the test person can thus choose the desired answer. However, this phenomenon is often counteracted with the help of control questions. If you want to find out something about your personality yourself, you should answer honestly in any case. Otherwise the test result will be useless to you.

Personality tests in personnel selection

Personality tests are becoming increasingly popular, especially in companies. The companies hope that such tests will enable them to select the better applicants. This idea stems from the fact that so-called soft skills are becoming increasingly important these days. These cannot really be read from the résumés and cover letters. However, normal personality tests are difficult to use for such personnel selection processes. There are several reasons for this. On the one hand, personality tests were originally developed for research and for psychotherapeutic treatment and not for mentally healthy people. In addition, they are not suitable for such purposes, as the personality tests are not specifically geared towards the requirements of the company. Furthermore, there is insufficient empirical data with which the results can be compared. It would hardly be worthwhile to create such data, as it would actually have to be collected anew for each requirement description. To make matters worse, many of these tests come from the English-speaking world. At first glance, this doesn't seem to be a problem. However, when translating the questions and answers, every slight nuance that shows up when comparing the translation and the original has an influence. This may lead to the test subjects giving a different answer than they would actually if they could answer the English version. All tests that were assessed for suitability for personnel selection could not achieve a satisfactory result. This is because the tests do not directly relate to the professional qualification for the respective position.

In the area of ​​personnel selection, the following tests are often used: the BIP (Bochum inventory for job-related personality description), the MBTI (Myers-Byers-Briggs type indicator), the 16 personality factors test and INSIGHTS leadership check. The GDP consists of 210 statements that span four job-related areas. The test is not based on a comprehensive scientific theory. The MBTI tests teamwork and willingness to resolve conflicts. The leadership check tests how the test person treats his or her environment. Motives for action are then derived from this. These can be economic or artistic, for example. The fourth test consists of 184 statements. The resulting results are divided into 16 factors - for example perfectionism and social competence.

Personality tests are not an easy hurdle for applicants. Although many claim they can be manipulated, assessment centers in particular are a major challenge for applicants. But those who take up this challenge can learn a lot from their own personality and also from their environment. Maybe the job will even work out in the end.

Tests on the Internet

Many tests can be found on the Internet that aim to test actual personality. The orientations are as varied as the quality of the tests. In general, the more trustworthy and professional the website on which the test is offered, the more reliable the test is. In this case, the price can also separate the wheat from the chaff. But that doesn't necessarily mean that a good test has to be expensive. There are tests on the Internet, especially for choosing a career, which can be helpful and yet do not have to be expensive. Stiftung Warentest has already tested and evaluated such tests.

Of course, there are still a great many sites that offer tests on soft skills. Such tests are very popular with companies in times of assessment centers and increasing requirements in this area. Halfway reliable tests provide answers on communication skills, creativity and your own logical thinking skills, but also on decision-making skills or leadership skills.

In addition to such tests, there are of course also more entertaining, rarely really meaningful tests that say something about our attitudes, friendship relationships or our love life.