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Aptitude Tests, Personality Questionnaires and Assessment Centres


Ability/aptitude tests

These tests are designed and distributed by specialist companies and commonly test your aptitude in the areas of numerical skills and verbal reasoning. 

They are timed and administered by a trained person.  You will be given complex financial or written information, then asked a number of questions, which are usually multiple choice.  The tests contain a large number of questions and it is not expected that you will complete them all in the time allowed.  You are given time to work through sample questions before the test itself begins, and you should also be sent details of the tests when you receive your invite to interview letter.

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Personality questionnaires

Again, there are a number of these on the market, and they are designed to reveal how you perceive yourself and allow employers to draw up a personality profile.  Unlike the ability tests, there are no right or wrong answers.  You are usually asked to rate how strongly you agree or disagree with a number of statements about yourself, and this then generates a profile.  There are no time limits to questionnaires such as these, although you are often advised to work through the questionnaire quickly, going for "gut instinct" reactions rather than pondering too long.  You will be given feedback from your profile, which is also fed back to the employer and often used to draw up a list of probing questions for use at interview.

Assessment or selection centres

An assessment centre comprises a number of exercises and tests undertaken by a group of candidates, who are observed and assessed during the process.  Selection centres can involve many of the tests and exercises described above, such as the in tray exercise, aptitude tests and personality questionnaire.  They can also include case studies and in depth, "critical incident" interviews, a one-to-one interview aimed at probing and assessing specific competencies.

Assessment centres often focus on group exercises and role plays based on a simulated situation.  Typically, the group is given detailed background information on the situation or issue, and given objectives to achieve.  The group then has a set time period to discuss and agree action, all the while being observed by trained assessors who are looking for evidence of specific competencies.  The emphasis is very much on process, and candidates are judged on their own actions and input, rather than being compared to the other group members.

Assessments centres have been shown to be accurate predictors of future job performance, as well as a fair and objective process, due to the amount of information collected about candidates and the number of people who observe them.

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