Have you heard of the practice effect? – it could transform your job hunting success

Person Holding Hire Me Sign in CrowdBy Amanda Conway, Careers Consultant

By now you will probably have already heard about psychometric tests and how they are regularly used by employers to shortlist and select candidates – you may have already encountered one of them! Around 70% of the major graduate employers now use some form of testing to gain insight into  your reasoning skills, to understand your judgement or identify your typical behaviour in situations. They range from numerical and verbal reasoning tests, to personality questionnaires or even online gaming.

The good news is that these tests often have good predictive validity – your performance in tests is often a better predictor of your likely future performance in a job than many other forms of selection, such as an interview.  But what if your performance on the day was not up to scratch? What if you simply were not ready to sit a test? What is the test predicting then?

The practice-effect is all about how your performance at a test can be significantly improved by having practised tests beforehand! Are you familiar with the types of questions asked? Have you thought about what the test is looking for and how it is assessed? Have you brushed up on some core skills like numeracy, percentages, ratios? Are you ready?

How many of you would happily go in to an exam having not looked over your notes from the previous year or two, or seen a few past papers?   Hopefully none of you…. and yet, so many of our students seem to be heading into employers’ psychometric tests equally unprepared. They are denying the practice-effect it’s moment of glory!

In a recent survey of final year Manchester students, less than 10% had visited the Careers Service to get help with practising for psychometric tests. The real shame, is that it could really help. Your Careers Service pays an annual subscription to a few key practice sites enabling you to get a great insight into the different tests about, have a go at some questions, find out how you did, and even how you should have answered the questions. Not a bad deal, eh?

So what now?

Whether you are in your final year, have recently graduated or are in your first or second year, psychometric tests are probably just around the corner. They are popular for internship or year placement recruitment too, so have a go now. If you log-on to the Careers Services webpages for psychometric tests, you can find a direct link to our recommended Graduates First practice site, alongside a few other useful sites too. There are even short video tutorials on a few of the common stumbling blocks for students – such as ratios and percentages.

Don’t stop there!

The practice-effect is not exclusive to testing either, why not try it with other aspects of job hunting, from interview technique to putting together a good application. Your Careers Service offers practice interviews, feedback on applications and tips for success in assessment centre exercises.

To access Graduates First for Manchester students & graduates:
www.bit.ly/graduatesfirst

To find out more about psychometric testing and try other tests:
http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/applicationsinterviews/psychometric/practicetests/

All Applications and interviews Graduate Undergraduate Undergraduate-highlighted

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