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Public Service Commission

Administering and scoring psychometric assessments

A registered psychologist or other qualified person who is accredited, trained, and skilled in this activity needs to administer and score psychometric tests (including cognitive ability tests and personality questionnaires) and interpret the results. If this expertise is not available in-house you should engage an accredited supplier from the Talent Acquisition Scheme.  

Administering tests

Some candidates will be anxious and nervous about having to complete a psychometric test for a selection process. Before inviting candidates to complete a test, it is a good idea to prepare them and put them at ease by explaining your selection process and the purpose of any testing.

Most service providers offer the opportunity for candidates to do practice tests prior to completing the assessment, which gives them a clear idea about what to expect and can help reduce anxiety.

Psychometric tests are usually administered online and can be completed in a candidate’s preferred location, e.g. at an agency or test provider’s offices or in their home. Some tests can also be administered in hardcopy by pencil and paper. They can be administered simultaneously to screen large numbers of candidates or individually in a face-to-face setting. They may also form part of an assessment centre.

Psychometric tests are often administered in an unsupervised environment in the early stages of a selection process. Some providers recommend re-testing candidates who progress to the next stage.

Generally, psychometric test results are valid for 12 months in the recruitment context and assessment service providers generally recommend the same test should not be completed again within this period. This is because:

  • performance can improve from frequent exposure to a test
  • it is unnecessary and costly to complete the same assessment more than once in 12 months.

Note: A person can be in a talent pool for a total maximum period of 18 months even if an assessment tool has a time limitation. GSE rule 19 says that a person who has satisfied the pre-established standards for a role through a comparative assessment may be included in a talent pool for up to 18 months following the completion of the comparative assessment. The standards are therefore satisfied at the time the person entered the pool, even if a test is said to be valid for less than 18 months.

Scoring tests

Cut-off scores for cognitive tests

You should decide upfront the cut-off score for any cognitive tests in your assessment process. Once you receive the test results you can incorporate them into your consolidated scoring sheet by applying your rating scale. See: Setting the standards and rating approach

Interpreting personality questionnaires

The service provider should map the scales of the personality questionnaire to the appropriate capabilities in the NSW Public Sector Capability Framework.

It may be the case that you will only receive a narrative report with no scores or ranges. As the personality questionnaire is a self-report questionnaire and provides an indication of the candidate’s preferred workstyles, any information which is not consistent with the details obtained from other capability-based assessments should be explored further through the use of behavioural based interviews or reference checking.

Personality questionnaires require accredited individuals or registered psychologists to interpret results and provide feedback to candidates. See: Psychometric assessments