The way they have been used and the types of tests have changed over the years but essentially they are trying to get the pool of applicants down to those who meet the basic criteria.
Smaller employers or those just recruiting for 1 or 2 staff at a time for more specific roles may not use tests or may test for more specific skills related to the role.
Many recruiters will test for numeracy & verbal reasoning as standard.
- The pass rate may differ between recruiters depending on whether they require a basic level of aptitude or a high level. So you could pass some tests and not pass others.
- The tests may be the same no matter what you are applying for which can seem a little odd if you feel that numeracy won’t be part of your role!
So what can you do to improve?
- Try some online tests
- Take a look at the books we have in the Careers Library
- Come to one of our workshops advertised on CareersLink (usually held at peak testing times in semester time) It’s a great chance to discuss tips and where you are going wrong.
- Essentially it comes down to speed and accuracy.
- You may find the wording of the questions ambiguous – so read them carefully and don’t assume anything.
- The question may use the language of the business you are applying to, for example financial terms that you may not be familiar with. So do some preparatory work reading sector specific literature – eg – financial times so that you understand what they mean.
- The maths is normally around GCSE level – but it’s been a while so you may be rusty. Even Maths degree students can find this hard. So brush up on some basic skills get a revision book or use revision sites. Look at ratios, fractions, percentages.
- Practice will not necessarily take you from a grade C GCSE maths student to a grade A but it will help you familiarise yourself with the maths, and the speed needed.
- Much harder to practice, for some people it is simply not the way their minds work!
- If English is not your first language you may find it more difficult, read journals or books that use professional level language to improve your skills.
- Read the question, do not use any information outside that that you are given unless you are instructed to do so.
Logical or spatial reasoning
- Less commonly used.
- This really is an aptitude and is often used to recruit for jobs where logic and pattern spotting is important.
- Use online tests or books to familiarise yourself with a range of types and have a go.
With all the tests above practice will help you become more confident but students tell us that the real tests are harder and it’s impossible to do it all in the time. Don’t panic it’s not usually expected that you will finish but you need to do as much as you can – so don’t take ages on one question move on to the next if you are stuck.
Often used to see if you are the right “fit” for the role or the organisation
- Be aware of company culture – how do they expect employees to behave? It may help you to understand why they are asking certain questions.
- Be yourself – you cannot fake this. They will use cross checking questions to weed out the fakers!
Situational judgement – see our blog post on this.
What else do I need to know?
- If you have a disability that will affect your test performance or ability to access the venue, tell the recruiter in advance so that they can make adjustments.
- Don’t cheat and get a friend to do the online test for you. If a company does online tests they often re-test in person – do not risk getting found out!
If you are doing practice tests and not doing well or have taken company tests and not got through do not despair! It may have been bad luck on the day but if you feel that you generally do not do well in these tests it is worth considering a strategy to find employers who are less likely to use them. Come and talk to us!