Tackling Tests

Great news. You have been called for an interview. That introduction from your BLT Consultant has secured you an interview slot, so the first thing to do is give yourself a pat on the back for making it thus far – your CV has evidently made enough of an impression for the prospective employer to be interested in your experience.

Your BLT consultant will often be able to give you some insight into what the prospective employer is looking for at the interview, so if in doubt ASK!

Your interview could well include a formal element, so the below guidelines are to help you prepare for such.

 

Written/online tests

The format of an interview can differ widely from organisation to organisation, but some companies (most commonly larger organisations) use written or online tests as a way to assess prospective candidates’ eligibility for their company.

There are a wide variety of different types of tests that companies use, but broadly they fall into three categories.

a) Verbal reasoning
b) Numerical reasoning
c) Psychometric tests/personality questionnaire

Some tests are timed.

You may be asked to complete these online before an interview, or else you may be asked to complete these at the clients’ premises either before or after your face to face interview.

Some things to remember about tests:

  • Treat them seriously. The prospective employer does, so you should do too.
  • Ensure that you set aside enough appropriate time to tackle them effectively. Make sure you are not going to be interrupted or your attention is going to be diverted from the task in hand.
  • If doing the tests at home, make sure your IT/broadband facilities are not going to break down mid-way through the test!
  • If you get stuck on a question, move on to the next and come back to it later.
  • Don’t worry if you don’t complete all the questions within the set timeframe – its much more important to answer as many as you can to the best of your ability, rather than doing a ‘rush job’ by trying to answer every single question.
  • Remember that in many cases there are no right or wrong answers – the purpose of many tests is to try to get a feel for your working style, characteristics and establish whether you would be a good cultural fit for the business.

 

Competency based interviews

An increasing number of companies use competency based interviewing techniques as a means of assessing a candidates’ eligibility for a position.

What is a competency-based interview?

A competency-based interview is a structured interview in which the questions are designed in such a way as to ascertain your qualities or capabilities against the competencies (behaviours and experience) relevant to the role applied for. Commonly these competencies are listed on job specifications.

Specific questions will be asked which require you to give examples of occasions when you have demonstrated these particular behaviours and experience.

 

Tips for preparation:
  • Use examples which gives clear evidence of the use of positive behaviours.
  • Use an example where you were personally involved. Use ‘I’ not ‘we’.
  • Use an example where you added value, where you were proactive or where you had the best outcome.
  • Your example can relate to your current role or a previous role.
  • You should try to structure your responses as a mini-essay.
  • Be prepared to describe:
    a) The Situation. This forms an introduction, describing the scenario you faced, date and place. Keep it brief.
    b) The Action i.e. what you did/said. This should form the main body of your response and should be the longest part.
    c) The Result. This should be a positive outcome, and should be quite short.
  • Ensure that you are factual and specific, not general or vague.
  • Be concise. Don’t waffle. If you have answered the question STOP TALKING! And wait for the next question.
  • Don’t blind the interviewer with technical jargon – the questions are more likely geared towards your working style and practices rather than testing specific technical expertise.

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