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Assessment centres and psychometric/selection tests

How can I practice for tests?
Assessment Centres
Be prepared

Some employers refer to these as selection tests and they may be sat individually or in a group situation. Fundamentally, they are a test of your skills and are designed to test those most relevant to the role. Most are timed and whilst they are often tests of your verbal and logical reasoning; maths or IT skills other tests could include giving a presentation or participating in group exercises. They may be used early in the selection process, to decide which applicants will be invited to interview. Equally, they may form part of a wider assessment.

We recommend that you:

  • Find out as much as you can about the tests you face,
  • Practise similar tests under timed conditions,
  • Revise the subject where you can – for example maths and IT skills,
  • Ensure that the employer knows if you need any special provisions (they may allow extra time or be able to make adjustments),
  • Ask if you are unclear about anything,
  • Keep calm and work accurately,
  • Move on to the next question if you get stuck.

In some instances, employers also use personality questionnaires. These aim to determine your preferences; interests and working style. There are no right or wrong answers to these so answer them honestly.

See:

With thanks to CareerPlayer, Graduate Jobs and Career Advice on video.

How can I practice for tests?

Practice can help you to become familiar with the types of question you are likely to face and you may receive preview material in advance of taking a test. Remember though, that aptitude tests aim to measure true aptitude or ability and the better ones will produce similar results if taken again by the same person.

  • Practice could slightly improve your scores by reducing your anxiety and increasing your confidence.
  • Where you haven't done any arithmetic for some time, it could pay you to practice numerical reasoning tests. Do so to remind you of the basics - such as how to calculate percentages; convert these into fractions or ratios; use graphs and pie charts and so on.
  • Don't overlook the importance of being mentally and emotionally prepared. Your scores can be affected by how relaxed and focussed your mind is.
  • Try to arrive on time or even a little early, for your test.

Failure to achieve the desired percentile score to progress with a particular application may not predict failure to secure a similar position with a different employer (or indeed a different position with the same employer).

The following links are to sites that offer test advice and/or practice opportunities. Note that some organisations require you to register with them to access advice and test practice resources. This registration should be free of charge. Finally, note that employers’ expectations vary and they set acceptable standards at different levels.

Assessment Centre HQ

Assessment Day Ltd.

Morrisby

Opra Consulting Group

Practice aptitude tests.com

Prospects

Psychometric Success

Saville and Holdsworth

Test Partnership

The British Psychological Society's
Psychological Testing Centre

Practice Reasoning Tests

Job Test Prep

For more information on psychometric tests see:

Psychometric and selection tests.pdf Interview_tests_and_exercises1.pdf

Assessment Centres

A number of employers, particularly large organisations, run extended selection procedures that take the form of assessment centres. Commonly these take place after first interviews and before final selection and involve a number of assessors observing you over a period of time and as you deal with a range of situations.

Assessment centres vary but typically include:

Selection tests and exercises - working individually or in groups you will have to answer questions, cope with problems, make decisions and extract information from different sources.

Group tasks and case studies - usually with a small number of other candidates, you may be required to lead or chair a group. In doing so, ensure that you get everyone involved.

Giving a presentation - here you must speak to your audience; keep to the time limit and speak clearly and confidently.

Social/informal events - these are an opportunity for you to find out more about the employer but make sure you behave in a way that reflects well on you.

An interview - this may be in depth so ensure that you’re well prepared.

For more information see:

Assessment methods.pdf

With thanks to CareerPlayer, Graduate Jobs and Career Advice on video.

Be prepared

Consider carefully what is being assessed. Namely, the skills the employers asked for in the job description, how you interact with others and your ability to fit in. You should show that you are enthusiastic, motivated and interested. Join in as fully as you can, speak clearly and maintain eye contact. In group activities avoid dominating and think before you speak.

As a range of types of assessment are involved, you may excel at some but not others. However, you are being assessed against the employer's criteria not competing against other candidates.

For more information see:

And also: Assessment centres – from Prospects (UK).

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