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How a Career Test Works

Career testing has become popular in a variety of situations.  Not only do students use them during high school and college to help them find some direction, but many companies are using them during the hiring process to help determine whether or not the candidates are suitable for the position.  While there are a variety of different career tests available, many of them function in a similar way.  It is time for a closer look at how career testing works.

Understanding How Career Testing Works

One of the most important things to understand about career testing is that it is based upon one or a series of of psychometric tests.  A psychometric test may draw conclusions about a number of different things such as a personality profile, motivation, abilities, and reasoning capabilities.  The goal of a psychometric test is measure something that is not “concrete”.  Essentially, it takes subjective answers and turns them into more objective measurement.

Since being objective is critical in order to gain any quality information from these tests, there are 3 characteristics that a psychometric test must have: a method of standardization, internal reliability, and validity.

1.    A Method of Standardization. The career test that you take must be based upon results that have been accurately gathered from a sample population that actually represents you.  Since it is impossible to test every single person, sample groups are used to gather baseline information.  The baseline information is then applied to your answers and from there, accurate conclusions can be drawn.

Along with standardizing the baseline measurements, the test itself must be standardized as well.  This means that the test must be administered in the same way each time.  This prevents outside variables (such as time, content, level of difficulty) from impacting the results.

2.    Internal Reliability. In order to be internally reliable, a psychometric test must produce consistent results regardless of the variables involved.  For example, if you take the test twice, once with no time limit and in a leisurely environment and the second under time constraints and in a stressful environment, the results should be the nearly the same.  If there are large differences in the results, then the test is not internally reliable, because outside variables have too large of an impact on the results.

3.    Validity. When it comes to psychometric tests, validity is incredibly important.  In order to be “valid”, the test must measure what it is supposed to measure.  For example, if the primary purpose of your career test is to identify careers that would be interesting to you, then that is what it needs to measure.  It should not measure a variable that is related to your interests.

Career tests can measure a variety of different things including: interests, skills, and experience.  All of these tests are considered psychometric tests.  The reason that a career test works is because they are standardized, internally reliable, and valid.  If they are not, then the tests will not provide any usable results.