Aptitude tests: You may have heard of these before, they strike fear into the hearts of many and that includes yours truly. Post-application, and depending on which scheme you are applying for there is a possibility that you will be asked to complete a series of timed tests in order for your employer to discern whether you have the natural ability and/or personal qualities to succeed in the role that you are applying for. There are different types of aptitude tests provided by different companies (click here for more details) however the main categories include the following: Verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning (there is a special dedicated section on this below), critical thinking and psychometric tests (personality based tests). If you are successful in completing the application stage you will receive an email confirmation explaining the type(s) of test you need to take and a link with where to find them as well as a few guidelines (ALWAYS READ CAREFULLY!). Normally you will have the option to take a practice test beforehand in order to gauge an idea of what kind of questions you’re going to be asked, I would recommend doing as many practise tests as you have time for. The thing to remember here is PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE; you really can’t prepare enough for these tests they are extremely tricky and designed to catch you out, combine this with the fact that you normally have about a minute to answer each question and, unprepared, you could have a truly diabolical situation on your hands. The employers are going to be concerned with HOW quickly you answer the questions and HOW MANY you answer, it is quite normal for people to not have enough time to finish the test however if you think you’re going to need over one minute to answer a question it is advisable to move onto the next one.
Numerical reasoning tests : Now if, like me, you’re a graduate in Modern Languages or a similar non-numerical discipline and haven’t been intimately involved with numbers since the age of about 16 or 17 then the thought of a numerical reasoning test may be enough to send you into an irrational state of panic. YES, they are pretty tough, but the knowledge that you will need for this type of test doesn’t normally span outside GSCE level (at least for the graduate schemes which do not require a numerical degree), most of the tests will ask you questions based around calculating percentages, reading graphs and analysing tables of data, etc. Relatively simple stuff. However the time-frame is what makes these tricky, the best advice for these brain-bending timed assessments that I can give is to do as many practice tests as possible, you can find and download these online and the more you do the better prepared you will be; it also wouldn’t be a bad idea to brush the dust off your GSCE text book and re-familiarise yourself with the basics.
OK, so surely just an interview and then we’re done? Well... not exactly, some schemes even want you to complete a telephone interview and possibly even a telephone role play before granting you with an invitation to the final assessment day - more details in Pt 3!