If you are applying to graduate schemes this Autumn, there is a good chance you will be asked to complete some tests. There are a variety of different names for these. We tend to call them psychometric tests in Careers but some employers might call them recruitment assessments, ability tests or something else. But whatever the name, find out more about these tests and the ways that you can prepare.
What are the tests and what are they for
Employers use tests to assess a variety of different abilities, aptitudes or traits. When dealing with hundreds or even thousands of applicants to large graduate schemes, these tests can be a good way to reduce the number of candidates who get to the next stage.
Each of these types can include a variety of different tests. You might have heard of numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, situational judgement or in-tray exercise to name a few. Different employers also might use similar tests, but be looking for entirely different things. This is particularly true of personality tests where there won't be a universally correct answer.
Ability or cognitive tests
The most common types of aptitude test are verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning and logical reasoning. Aptitude tests are designed so the majority of candidates do not finish. You will therefore feel pressurised, and working as quickly as you can (but without sacrificing accuracy) is important.
Attainment and aptitude tests are frequently used, particularly by larger employers, as part of the selection process. Some employers use them early in the recruitment process as a way of reducing applications to a manageable number. Others combine them with evidence gained from other assessment processes to determine your ability to do a particular job.
Sometimes called business behaviour, situational judgement or cultural fit questions, these are designed to find out how you behave, how you approach tasks and what your attitudes are. These factors affect how you would do the job, and how well you would fit into the existing staff and organisational culture.
There are no universally correct answers; the best approach is to respond to the questions according to your first reaction. Don't try to skew your answers, because you may not be accurate in trying to guess the desired personality profile. The most common problem is consciously trying to make your answers consistent rather than truthful. The average, reasonably flexible personality won’t be entirely consistent, the most extreme and rigid personalities will be. If your personality doesn't fit, it's probably better to know earlier rather than later anyway.
These are where carefully-designed games test various aspects of your personality. They are used by many large employers as they test harder-to-assess qualities such as emotional intelligence, how you prioritise and your attitude to risk. They are harder to prepare for as it is less obvious how each quality is being assessed. However, even if you have never played a computer game these are easy to learn and there are always instructions!
Preparing for tests
The best way to get prepared for these tests is to get informed and practice. Employers will give you information on what tests you will need to complete and will usually give you some example questions.
We subscribe to GraduatesFirst for all students and graduates so that you can practice the tests employers use. Make sure you use our Bath-specific link available on MyFuture to access GradautesFirst for free.
Getting the most out of your preparation
Simply completing as many tests as you can is not so effective. Make sure you reflect on the results and work out which areas you need to work on. We would also suggest using the practice tests in the run-up to a real employer test rather than practicing randomly with no upcoming test in mind.
You might need to refresh your Maths. You could use the services provided by MASH – a University resource centre to help all students with their Maths and Statistics.
If you need further help or have any questions we are here to help. We can help you track down information on specific questions and offer advice on how best we can help you. Email us via email@example.com
For more help on psychometric tests, have a look at our Get Started guide to psychometric tests. Which includes additional practice test resources.