It’s a New Year, and perhaps your New Year’s Resolution is to find a new job – perhaps you require a different challenge, you’re unhappy in your current role, you need to earn more, or you just yearn for a change. The probability of having to complete psychometric assessments is high – but the word “test” is enough to make anyone feel nervous. Rest at ease: being somewhat nervous is part of the human experience, and in fact will give you the edge when completing the assessments if you don’t let the anxiety overwhelm you.
So how exactly can you “ace” your assessments? There is no “pass” or “fail” when it comes to psychometric assessments; there is only recommendations made regarding if you meet all, most, some or none of the required competencies for the desired role. Just like an introvert may run a mile from a sales position, an extrovert may be miserable if required to work alone all day, every day. Thus, not meeting the criteria for a particular role may be a blessing in disguise. However, what you do want is to put your best foot forward, and demonstrate your full potential, to truly “ace” the assessment process. Here are some tips:
1. Get a good night's rest the night before your testing session, and have a FULL breakfast. Find out if your assessment provider is ordering lunch for you; if not, pack your own light meal and water. You need to keep your brain fuelled, so ensure whatever you prepare is healthy, wholesome, and has a low GI (Glycaemic Index) to ensure you have sustained and stable sugar levels.
2. Stay away from stimulants as it can make you jittery and interfere with concentration. This includes sweets, chocolates and sodas which can give you a sugar high at first, but leaving you feeling exhausted after your sugar levels drop.
3. Make sure you know where the venue is, and leave with ample time to spare. Being late for your assessment session will only exacerbate the stress you may be experiencing.
4. Throw your preconceived ideas out the window. If you believe you are terrible at maths, you are already setting yourself up for failure if you are told you need to complete a numerical assessment. Which leads me to my next point…
5. Have a positive attitude! You may be dreading the prospect of being assessed, but here’s something to ponder: your prospective company values the calibre of people they hire, and to ensure you fit the culture and job role optimally, they are investing a lot of money into the assessment process. Added to that you will (or at least should) have access to receiving feedback, which will only be beneficial for your own development and growth.
6. The good news! Most assessments are multiple choice.
7. Although not condoned, the amount of companies who send their candidate a link to complete their assessments is alarming. If you are asked to complete assessments at home or work, ensure you set aside some time (ideally) in the morning, free of distractions. Try to book a boardroom where no one can disturb you, or put in a day’s leave to work at your own pace and complete the assessments without the risk of being distracted.
8. Speaking of leave… rather take a full day’s leave to complete your assessments. It may only take a few hours to complete, but you are going to feel mentally exhausted afterwards. DO NOT lie to your boss and say you have car issues or a doctor’s appointment – you do not want your phone ringing off the hook, where he is asking where you are!
9. Put your phone OFF during all assessments
10. If you get confused whilst completing an assessment, ASK QUESTIONS. No question is stupid - that's why the assessors are there.
11. Be mindful of time management. A lot of the assessments may be timed, and if you don't manage your time effectively, you may not finish. In some tests, you have the option to skip ahead if you don't know the answer to something - and then you can go back. Ask the assessor. This can be an effective strategy to ensure you at least answer the questions you know the answers to.
12. If you are feeling excessively anxious, practice some basic breathing exercises. Breath in for 10 seconds, hold for 5, and exhale for 10 seconds. Repeat at least 3 times – but do as many times as you need to. From a physiological perspective, you’ll be slowing your heart rate, fuelling your brain with more oxygen and allowing yourself to feel less anxious.
13. Take breaks between assessments. If there are facilities, take a walk outside, have a coffee and a snack or just sit back and relax for a few minutes.
14. Find out about feedback. As the candidate you have a right to know your results from a developmental perspective. Feedback may be provided from your prospective company, or from the psychometric consultancy you completed the tests at. Be advised that this may be at an additional cost.
15. Relax! Once you’ve completed the battery of assessments – that’s it! Don’t spend unnecessary time over-thinking what you could have done better. You gave it your best – so leave it at that.
If you are still feeling a bit anxious regarding what to expect, then you can do a few practice assessments – just to expose you to what the assessments may look like. Each role will demand a unique set of assessments, and psychometric consultancies differ in their offering. As a guestimate, however, you may need to complete:
1. One or more cognitive assessments
2. One or more personality assessments
3. One or two role plays / business case studies
Cognitive assessments can be anything from a skills test (think numerical or verbal reasoning), to an abstract reasoning assessment, or even a test assessing your strategic capability. For some example go to: http://www.practiceaptitudetests.com/diagrammatic-reasoning-tests/ (*disclaimer: I strongly advise against purchasing any assessments available on the link – trust me when I say it is not necessary. I am merely providing this link so you can have a look to see what the assessment may look like).
Personality assessments are “easier” because no one knows you better than you, right? They can get tricky, however, if you feel like the same question is being asked over and over again but in a different way – which can make you start second guessing yourself. The trick is: honesty. Some assessments have social desirability scores built into the process, and can pick up if you are presenting yourself in an excessively positive (or even negatively) light. Be truthful, work quickly, and go with your first answer – avoid changing answers as the first selection is usually most likely to be true of you.
If you would like some additional assurance or advice, please feel free to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org . All the very best of luck!
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