Top Tips for Candidates when faced with Testing & Assessment in Recruitment

A Guide for Candidates

An ever growing number of organisations use testing and assessment as part of their selection process in order to get the most objective view of candidate’s abilities, strengths and potential.  As interviews are notoriously poor at predicting whether a candidate is likely to perform at the level their CV suggests, employers bring tests of ability and measures of personality into the selection process to add valuable information on which to base a sound selection decision.

But for many candidates, learning that a hurdle between them and that next job is going to be testing or assessment is something they dread or see as an unnecessary irritation.  However, a few simple hints and tips can assist you in demonstrating your abilities and strengths of personality to prospective employers.

Before the testing session

When advised that testing will be part of the selection process, good practice dictates that candidates are given the opportunity to try some sample questions in advance of the event.  This usually comes in the form of a website link.  Always take time to try out the sample questions given to you as they take much of the mystery and fear out of the process.  If sample questions are not offered, call the business or recruitment consultant and ask for them.

If tests include verbal reasoning, prepare yourself by doing crosswords and similar deduction puzzles.  Reading newspaper articles and summarising their key points can help with tests that measure critical reasoning.  Numerical reasoning and comprehension tests are best prepared for by practising arithmetic, along with number sequences, ratios, percentages, fractions, and decimals.  To prepare for a numerical critical reasoning exercise, study any numerical information that is presented in tabular form, such as currency rates, timetables, and share-market prices.

Get a good nights sleep rather than a good night out the evening before the session, make sure you know the location, parking and travel times and how long the session is scheduled to take so you don’t double book later appointments.

On the day

Arrive five minutes early, if you wear glasses, take them and wear a watch in case the room doesn’t have a clock so you can keep track of progress in timed tests.  Try to remain calm and relaxed. Remember that this is only one part of the selection process.

Listen very carefully to the instructions.  Ask the test administrator to repeat or explain any instructions you do not understand.  Do not panic if you do not finish all the timed exercise questions and remember that these exercises are not designed to be finished. Instead, try to work as accurately and as quickly as you can in the time available.  If you feel under pressure in what you are required to do and the time in which you have to do it, it is because the test is designed that way.  Everyone feels the same and it isn’t just you.

If you feel that one exercise went badly, try not to let it get you down, put it behind you and focus instead on the next exercise. Remember, all exercise results are considered in light of what else is known about you from the interview and reference checking.

For personality questionnaires, answer the questions as honestly as you can, resisting the temptation to try and present yourself as someone you think would fit into the job.  There are a number of questions embedded in these exercises that are designed to check the accuracy of your responding, and if you are subsequently interviewed on the basis of someone that you are not, it is likely to be a confusing experience

Although personality questionnaires are not timed, try not to spend too long answering any one question. Your first, instinctive response is generally the most accurate.

After the session

Ask the test administrator when you will receive feedback on your results and what form this will take.  You are always entitled to receive feedback and are likely to find this helpful in terms of your own professional development.

If feedback is offered at a later date, arrange a suitable time for the feedback to be given. If you are to call the test administrator, it may be valuable to ask for their business card.

Test sessions are mentally tiring and draining, so take a break and relax before getting behind the wheel of your car.

Finally, try not to dwell on your performance in the assessment testing and remember that the testing is just one part of the selection process.

Was this article useful to you in preparing for taking tests or assessments?  Please leave your comments or questions below & we’ll be happy to answer them.