Category Archives: aptitude test tutorial

How to pass Saville Aptitude tests

Saville Swift aptitude tests and others are becoming more and more common in the recruitment process, but remember: they are nothing to be afraid of.

Aptitude tests are something companies which want to get the very best employees resort to, and companies that use the Saville Swift aptitude tests include market giants such as Johnson & Johnson, NAB, Westpack, ANZ and Ramsted.

Considering how much of a very long and complex journey it is to be chosen and hired by any company of similar caliber, the Saville Swift aptitude tests are just another passing stone to weed out the weaker candidates and keep the ones who have what it takes. The aptitude test usually comes right after the initial interview part, making up the stage two of the recruitment process.

What is in the Saville Swift aptitude test?

An aptitude test is a test based on verbal, numerical and diagrammatic/abstract subtests. The difference between a Saville Swift Aptitude Test and your regular Aptitude test is that the Saville versions tends to have many different types of Aptitude tests rather than one major type. Time-wise, the Saville Swift tests are also shorter than others, but that does not make it any easier, so please make sure to be prepared and very confident.

The Swift Executive Aptitude is given to candidates who are aiming for high level roles. Applicants seeking positions like directors, managers, professionals are sure to face this variant. The test measures critical reasoning through short verbal, numerical and diagrammatic sub-tests. All of these subsections are applicable to all high-level positions. Altogether, the sections take six minutes each which will be more than enough to answer all questions correctly. Do not waste time though!

The Swift Analysis Aptitude is made for managers, professionals, technicians and graduates. It also goes through short verbal, numerical and diagrammatic sub-tests which are all six minutes long and are suitable for all high-level roles.

The Swift Comprehension Aptitude is taken by candidates going for operational, commercial, customer and administrative staff positions. The test is shorter than the other ones as it goes through short verbal and numerical which are 4 minutes long each and error checking which will only be 2 minutes long. This test is suitable for all entry-level roles, but it requires the same attention and preparation as the others.

The Swift Technical Aptitude test is given to those who wish to pursue production work, like apprentices, engineers, designers and scientists working in technical roles. The test measures practical reasoning through short spatial and mechanical which both take 3 minutes each and diagrammatic which takes 4 minutes. This Aptitude test goes for all practical roles.

The Swift  Apprentice Aptitude is designed for use with apprentices or entry level staff in operational, technical, engineering, manufacturing and construction roles. The test measures technical and general reasoning through short sub-tests which are verbal and numerical both taking 4 minutes each, checking which will take 90 seconds, spatial and mechanical which is 3 minutes, diagrammatic 4 minutes. This test is suitable for all practical roles.

How to crack the Saville Swift tests?

Considering the wide variety of tests you can face when applying for a company which uses the Saville Swift aptitude tests, it is hard to give a specific recipe to success for each one of them. That being said, the solution to all applicants in these fields is very simple and straightforward: be prepared, always. As a great general once said, hard training makes easy work.

 You can find a myriad of online variations of these tests. Study the aspects of the one which best apply to you, and run them through while keeping an eye out for your weaknesses. Work on them before the actual test, and you are set for success at what can be your new workplace.

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What it takes to get a job with Investment Bank?

The true reality of bagging an investment banking job in the extremely competitive world is different and difficult.  Working with an investment bank is not like working in a technology startup wherein anyone can work and acquire skills over a period of time. These banks are traditional and conservative organizations thriving on values, passion and hunger for more money. Most top Wall Street investment banks want to recruit an intelligent, proactive, entrepreneurial and disciplined graduate. Excellent analytical and personal skills are a prerequisite for starting a prosperous career in a high paying investment banking job.

At investment banks, the candidate selection is a meticulously planned process. It includes application screening, online aptitude tests, initial telephone interview, assessment centre with further tests and even a senior partner interview. The whole selection process may last for several months. Practicing and preparing for aptitude tests such as SHL and Kenexa numerical reasoning tests will help you gain a better test score and pass the initial phase of the job recruitment process. Note that top academic degree is not enough. You should have an optimal combination of soft and technical skills. For example, significant programming background and experience will definitely help in securing your dream job at one of the top investment banks. Remember, you will be working in an extremely dynamic environment, with highly intelligent colleagues, high salary and commensurate responsibilities. Here are a few steps you can follow to get hired by an investment bank.

  1. Understand the industry

A majority of banks are inflexible when it comes to hiring graduates and they usually prefer candidates from top schools or universities because if you are not from the elite schools, you will have to show something extra about you that should make up for the “shortcoming”. Note that you will have to sacrifice your social and personal life to work long late night hours (close to 100 hours per week) for the bank, especially during the first three years. Therefore, understanding the investment banking industry before facing the job recruitment process is essential. The industry requires you to put in extremely long working hours that should lead to strong results. Banks also look out for people who engage in extra-curricular activities to relieve stress and get a new perspective about problems and tasks. Strong logical reasoning, abstract reasoning and verbal reasoning are also required to work efficiently in a bank.

  1. Prepare for the initial phase

The initial phase is usually in the form of online aptitude test – an effort to filter out “undeserving” applicants at a minimal cost. The throttling trouble faced by applicants is the difficulty to clear the verbal reasoning, logical reasoning and numerical reasoning tests. These aptitude tests determine the analytical and logical ability of the candidate under high time pressure. The HR managers believe that a high score in these tests reflects the candidate ability to quickly learn and adapt to challenging conditions as one will have to use his analytical and logical skills to deal with real life problems. And, whether or not you have a mathematical background, make sure to prepare for the SHL, Kenexa reasoning tests to help you prepare better for the upcoming assessment day.

  1. Tell your story

A plethora of graduates wants to enter the investment banking field because of money. However, this cannot be explicitly told during an interview, even if it is the truth. Displaying the finance spark is essential to win an offer. Tell them why you want to enter the tough field of investment banking and how you are a good fit for the job. Craft your story in a way it is authentic. Start from the beginning and entail how you developed an interest in this field. And, once you have understood what the banks are looking for, you need to persuade them that you possess all the desired skills and quality. In the end, you should be able to communicate the message that you possess all the skills to excel in such a profile. The story should be genuine and not filled with unrealistic stuff such as “it was my childhood dream” because investment banking is not everyone’s cup of tea.

  1. Build your resume

Investment banks require a different kind of resume and if you apply using a resume meant for a marketing job, you are sure to get rejected within seconds. Never bank upon the resumes or cover letters available online. Craft your resume in a way it reflects the financial and numerical ability instead of simple words.

For example, a candidate applied with the following line:

Developed a software which reduced the manual hours of employees at an organization

These lines sound as if the person is tech nerd. You can change it to:

Reduced the manual hours of employees by 25% resulting in a 10% increase in the ROI.

Giving specific number and analyzing the financial returns will help you create an impression as the same is done in the real world. You only need to sound ‘finance savvy’ and you will be successful in leaving an impression.

  1. Crack the technical round

One of the most difficult parts of the recruitment process is clearing the technical round wherein you are bombarded with finance terminologies which tests your financial aptitude. Technical questions are tough and can be answered if the concepts are clear. Additionally, if you vomit whatever you have read in a book, the interviewer will know it within seconds. Therefore, it is essential to inject some flavor to every answer you give during the interview. While preparing focus on accounting, modeling and valuation as these three areas are often tested. Apart from the technical questions, you need to stay at par with the recent deals completed in the industry as an interviewer may want to know your passion and enthusiasm about this field.

Whether you land up with an offer or not, leave no stone unturned while preparing for the interview process because you never know which stone will lead to a lucrative job profile at an investment bank. Portray your strengths, spin your resume, show your passion and increase your enthusiasm to grab a job offer.

What is Error Checking Test

Error Checking Test is a type of aptitude test that assesses your ability to quickly evaluate and identify any errors in complex data sets (called strings) such as codes, any combinations of alpha-numeric characters, etc.

Generally speaking, error checking tests assess your ability to compare a string of figures or numbers and match them up to one of the options offered.  You will be presented with a string of either numerical, alphabetical, or alpha-numerical data and you have to compare this string to either a number of different possibilities or to a line in a piece of text.  Error checking aptitude tests are conducted under severe time constraints. A typical error checking test will give you 20 seconds per question.  Therefore, without an understanding of how they work, what they look like and how to answer them quickly, you will not be able to do yourself justice.  With proper training, you will be able to achieve a much better score result. Practice does not mean years or even months. In fact you could improve your test performance in matter of weeks if not days so it is well worth putting in this little bit of effort in order to secure your desired job.

Is Error Checking an Aptitude Test?

Error Checking test is commonly (and perhaps, mistakenly) categorised as an “aptitude test” referring to one’s innate ability to easily detect errors in complex data sets.  However, practice shows that anyone can rapidly improve their error (data) checking skills by understanding types of data strings, errors, and by practicing such tests.  Therefore, labelling it as an “aptitude test” is questionable at best. Perhaps, it better fits the label of “ability” rather than “aptitude” test.

 

Practice Makes Perfect

Because Error Checking Test is not really an aptitude test it is possible to improve your performance much more quickly than you can improve your numerical or logical (inductive or abstract) reasoning skills. Aptitude test tutorials or aptutorials can be used to achieve this goal.  The best way to prepare may be to use a combination of tutorials and practice tests for maximum results on the actual error checking test.

Data Checking (Aptitude or Ability) Tests

Data Checking Test is similar to Error Checking Test with slight differences.  One key difference of the Data Checking Test is that you have less data to work with.  The data checking test is a more simple form of the error checking test with fewer items to check through.  For example, you may be given a table containing many alpha-numeric strings and have to compare them to one string that you have been given.  You will then have to check the correct one off the table of strings.

 

Who Takes Error Checking Tests?

  • Error checking aptitude tests can be used for a variety of positions including:
  • Administrative staff in the private and public sector
  • Commercial staff in sales
  • Marketing
  • Business development and financial services
  • Customer staff in call centres
  • Education
  • Health
  • Hospitality and leisure
  • Operational staff in engineering, construction, manufacturing and transport

Kenexa Style Error Checking Test

Specifically, in a common Kenexa format error checking test, you will be provided with two sets (or lists) of data strings to compare such as codes, currency values, credit card numbers, dates, car plate numbers, etc.  For each given string of data, you should say whether the two sets contain the SAME or DIFFERENT items. This specific test format (with the two sets of data strings) is used by test providers such as Kenexa.

The two sets will have headings named “Same” and “Different” respectively.

If the given data strings in both sets match exactly, the correct answer must be “SAME”.

If the given data strings are different, the correct answer must be “DIFFERENT”.

An example is provided below:

Error checking example

Error Checking Test Tips for Success

Potential employers/recruiters would like candidates to perform to the best of their ability during their assessment. Therefore making sure that candidates are fully prepared and ready for their test is in everyone’s interest. The following are tips and advice regarding Error Checking Test preparation.

  1. Read all instructions: Although it may seem like common sense, a surprising number of candidates skip important details in the instructions. The instructions may contain vital information regarding the test, which may be pivotal in correctly answering the questions. Always take the time to read every piece of information provided to you by the test publisher and the employing organisation.
  2. Practice before hand: Research suggests that the validity of cognitive ability tests is increased after candidates have practiced. Therefore, it is in everyone’s best interest to ensure that candidates are well prepared for a psychometric test. Candidates can find free or cheap example psychometric tests online quite easily, and it is recommended that you try one out before completing the real thing.
  3. Up-to-date web browser: Modern psychometric tests use specialist online testing platforms to deliver tests to candidates. Therefore, candidates are advised to ensure that their web browser is up to date, helping avoid any issues regarding compatibility. Similarly, candidates may need to disable any popup blockers when undertaking an online error checking test.
  4. Stay calm: Psychometric tests can feel particularly nerve-racking, and error checking tests are no exception. It is recommended that you make every attempt to keep calm during your test, as excess test anxiety may serve to negatively impact your performance. Getting plenty of rest the night before, completing well within the deadline and preparing thoroughly will serve to keep you calm during your error checking test.
  5. Work quickly and accurately. Accuracy is very important as incorrect answers may count against you. Error checking tests typically have short time limits compared to other cognitive ability tests. Therefore, it is very important to perform both quickly and accurately when completing an error checking test. Working quickly may require some practice to ensure top performance.

Keep in mind that at the end of the day, it is determination and perseverance that unleashes a genius in you, not your genetic package. Two of history’s brightest minds were called something less than a genius in their childhood: Einstein was mocked for his lack of ability to express himself while Thomas Edison was called outright stupid. Still, they went on and changed the world.

We hope you have enjoyed this short information piece on the error checking aptitude test and we hope to hear from you in the near future. Good luck in your next aptitude test.

The Application Deadlines of Times Top 100 Employers

If you are familiar with the idea of Times Top 100 Employers, you will know that they are the best places anyone could start their career at and I am sure you will be excited at the possibility of knowing what their application deadlines are, especially if you are particularly interested in any of them.

High Fliers Research has given a great gift to first time job seekers and experienced ones in the form of Times Top 100; a list of the best 100 companies to work.  The first list was compiled in 1999, when Accenture topped the list and ever since, only PwC and Civil Service has ever had a taste of topping the chart.  Now, PwC has come first, 11 years in a roll.  This accounting and professional services firm keeps topping the list; ahead of Deloitte, KPMG, NHS, Citi, Teach First, Aldi, you name it.

This year features 7 new entrants into this league of primus inter paresamong which are Frontline, Bloomberg, British sugar, Eon, Dyson, Savills and Norton Rose Fulbright.  So, what can I say? We live in a world where overtaking is allowed.  While some companies like PwC are working hard to maintain their positions as the best, others are working extra hard to take over and dominate.

So, what are the application deadlines of these companies like?  About a third of the 100 companies have the application deadlines for their 2015 graduate employment programme as single days, most of which are before Christmas, while others have rolling recruitments.  By rolling recruitments, it means that they either carry out their recruitment as a continuous process all through the year or they have different deadlines for different job functions or they simply fill vacancies as they become available.

So, companies in these category of rolling recruitment include Accenture, Deloitte, Dyson, IBM, KPMG, Aldi, Arcadia Group, Atkins, Bloomberg, Boots, Citi, Google, McDonald’s, GlaxoSmithKline, among others.

So let’s take it one step at a time.

October 2014

We are gone beyond October but I feel it is good to know the companies whose deadlines lied within the month, even if only for the purpose of closure.

  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)

So, if you are interested in working for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) you might want to prepare for next year because the deadline WAS in October.

  • McKinsey and Company

The consulting giant, McKinsey and Company had their application deadline close in October too.

So, if you have applied before the deadlines, I wish you all the best in the recruitment process and if you could not before the deadline, there are other very good companies for your consideration.  And if you do really want to work for these companies, you can consider engaging in some volunteering services that will enhance your CV and improve your chances of being selected in the next recruitment.

November 2014

The companies in the times 100 with their deadlines set for November are:

  • BP – November 24; internships and graduate jobs (Banking). The deadline for graduate jobs in technical scheme is at the end of December (refer to rolling recruitment above).
  • Airbus – November 28 for graduate jobs, while deadline for internship applications is in December.
  • PwC – November 28, however, this date is for the internships in a consultancy job function (Economic Consulting summer internship). PwC happens to be among the two-third of the times 100 that do rolling recruitments.  Keep an eye open for the deadline of other job functions.
  • Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) – November 28 for internship – Commercial and Private Banking, Corporate and Institutional Banking; look out for the deadline for graduate job in December.
  • P. Morgan – November 30 for the internship, insight program and graduate job
  • Baker &Mckenzie – November30 for the spring vacation scheme.
  • Other times 100 companies who have their deadlines in December are; Civil Service, Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Mars, BlackRock, Frontline, E.ON, Goldman Sachs, WPP, Savills, Microsoft, Mondelez International and Deloitte.

So, if you are applying for any of these, you might want to tidy up your application quickly before the time runs out.  Although the deadlines are pasts for some of these companies.

December 2014

This is particularly the season to be jolly and merry.  However, if you are applying or have already started with the application process for any of the following companies, here are their application deadlines set in December for you to work towards:

  • PwC – December 4th for the internship in Finance – Corporate Finance. So, remember rolling recruitment and check carefully to see if the deadline applies to the job function you have applied for.  It’s not fun to go on a fool’s errand.
  • Bank of America (Merrill Lynch) – December 4th for the internship programme for both Banking (Analyst summer internship) and Technical schemes (off cycle and Global Technology and Operations).
  • Atkins – December 5th for internships and industrial placements
  • Morgan Stanley – December 6th for graduate jobs, internships for Banking and Finance schemes                                    and industrial placements.

December 13th; graduate jobs and internships for Technical Scheme, insight programme for Banking.

  • Goldman Sachs – December 7th for internships in both banking and technical schemes.
  • Credit Suisse – December 12th for summer internships (Banking, Finance and Consultancy) and industrial placements, check January 2015 for deadline for the insight programme.
  • Airbus – December 12th; internship
  • BP – December 15th; graduate jobs (technical)
  • Deutsche Bank – December 28th; internships for Banking (London) and Technical schemes

December 31st; internship for Banking (Birmingham) scheme

  • Royal Bank of Scotland – December 31st for graduate jobs; check January for more deadlines.
  • Allen & Overy– December 31st; vacation scheme, insight programme and training contract (Non-Law students).
  • BT – December 31st; internship, graduate job and industrial placement.
  • Lloyd’s Banking Group– December 31st; internships and graduate jobs.
  • EDF Energy – December 31st; graduate job.
  • National Building Society – December 31st; Summer internship, internship and graduate jobs.
  • OtherTimes 100 employers, whose application deadlines fall in December, are Jaguar Land Rover, Sainsbury’s, L’Orealand John Lewis Partnership.

So, while planning for the celebrations, it would not be a bad idea to also put some little hard work towards the completion of the application.

January 2015

New Year, New resolutions, we say.  So maybe new companies too.  Whatever be the case, here are the lists of Times 100 with application deadlines in January 2015;

  • PwC – January 4th; internship (Finance – Valuations)

January 8th; internship (Consulting – Strategy and summer internship)

  • Goldman Sachs – January 4th; Insight programme and Industrial placement.
  • Cancer Research UK – January 4th; graduate jobs.
  • Clifford Chance – January 5th; Insight programme and vacation scheme.

January 31st; training contract (non-Law students)

  • Barclays – January 5th; internships
  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer– January 6th; vacation scheme.
  • Citi – January 9th; insight programme.
  • Bank of America (Merrill Lynch) – January 15th; spring insight programme.
  • Credit Suisse – January 17th; insight programme
  • Royal Bank of Scotland – January 31st; insight programme and internship – Commercialand Private Banking, Functions, Personal and Business Banking and Services.
  • Baker & McKenzie– January 31st; summer vacation scheme
  • DLA Piper – January 31st; vacation scheme
  • Norton Rose Fulbright– January 31st; vacation scheme
  • Others are Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s, Asda and

February 2015

So, by the second month next year, your applications into these companies should have been sent on or before the following deadlines.  And you know before is always better; the last minute rush is not always desirable.  So, here are the companies and the deadlines:

  • Bank of America (Merrill Lynch) – February 2nd; summer insight programme
  • Centrica – February 2nd; graduate job
  • Norton Rose FulbrightFebruary 28th; training contract (Non-Law students)

Deloitte will be visiting Belfast (Queens) on a Work Experience and Placement Fair scheduled for 11th Feb 2015 at 11.00am-3.00pm and the venue is Whitla Hall.  If it is relevant to you, you might just want to attend.

March 2015

The deadlines to watch out for in March 2015 are:

  • Credit Suisse – March 6th; Autumn Banking internship
  • Centrica – March 30th; internships
  • Shell

May – July 2015

  • Bank of America (Merrill Lynch) – May 14th; Banking internship (off cycle)
  • Clifford Chance – June 30th; training contract (Law students)
  • Freshfield Bruchhaus Deringer– July 31st; training contract
  • Baker & Mckenzie– July 31st; training contract
  • Allen & Overy– July 31st; training contract (Law students)
  • DLA Piper – July 31st; training contract
  • Norton Rose Fulbright – July 31st; training contract (Law students)
  • Hogan Lovels

To work for any of these companies is always a dream-come-true – so I wish you the best of luck to make yours a reality.  Now that you have the relevant deadlines for success, work hard towards them.  Remember, it is always better to apply ahead of deadlines, the last minute rush can lead to mistakes that can make you lose the job even before your application is submitted.

A friend once told me to never underestimate the power of applications.  He was emphasising the importance of continuously searching for and taking advantage of opportunities.  So, if you will not apply to these places, you will not just be called upon to work there.  It may work that way if you are a sought after professional, but before life gets to that point, applications must have been sent.  For life is in stages and men are in sizes.  So, take advantage of these opportunities.  You deserve the best!  Best of luck to You!

The Graduate Recruitment Processes at Major Companies

Our world is an ever-changing one, so the graduate recruitment process too has greatly changed from what it was known to be. It used to be that to secure a job in your company of choice, you only needed to finish with a good grade.  Oh, even before that, you only needed a degree; the grade was secondary.  Good companies went to campuses to poach the best of the best graduates, while the ordinary ones (companies) had to lobby for whatever they could get.  The competition was more on the side of the employers, while graduates chose companies they would work with.

But when did the game change?  I don’t know!  Just that the reality today is that in which graduates have to go through a schooling of some sort after their degree in order to get into their companies of choice, because gaining an employment into the giant companies is indeed a process. Yes, it is a process.  The competition is now more on the side of the job seekers, while the hard work on the side of companies is to get the best that they would not have to fire anytime soon.

Did I hear you say, ‘it’s unfair’?  No, it’s not fair, considering the sleepless nights, burning of your candles at both ends, taking the extra credits to graduate early, and the list goes on.  However, nothing is fair in love and war – you’ve heard that before, right?  And Job-seeking is a war of some sort.

So, talking about the process of recruitment, you will need this to prepare for the ‘battle’ ahead.  The process seems to be pretty standard with some slight modifications from company to company.  You have the initial online application, followed by an online psychometric test, a telephone interview and the assessment centre.  The order can be changed in some companies, but then, the journey always starts with the online application and most times ends at the assessment centre.

So, what should you expect at the different stages?

Online Application

A note of warning, never rush into the filling of the online application without knowing what you are getting into.  Or if you have started already, you don’t have to complete the filling of the application at a seating.  So, do some research about what to expect in the application of the particular company for which you are applying.

Then, get the requirements ready; your CV, your certificates and any other relevant documents.  The rule of thumb is to have your dates on your fingertips and then, check to be certain.  Your dates are very crucial and any mistake in the dates is a red flag to the recruiter that you are probably sloppy with your facts.  Fill the form accurately and completely.

It has now become the norm rather than an exception for companies to include competency based questions in their online application.  You need to use this to your advantage, because at this stage, this is more important than your grade and whatever work experience you might have.  The impression you give with your answers to the competency questions determines whether you will be invited for the next stage of the recruitment.

Competency questions can be behavioural, technical, or cognitive.  They are asked to ensure that an applicant have the requisite skills and personality that align with the mission and vision of the organisation.  Find here some examples of competency questions you can expect during your online application:

  • Why are you interested in working with our organisation?
  • Give an example of a project in which you were involved that require teamwork.
  • As a manager, do you direct the project or the people?

It is not a bad idea to have some standard answers to these questions, but you have to be flexible enough to adapt them to whichever situation you find yourself.  You will find STAR method of answering interview questions useful here.  And while crafting your answers, you should creatively work the core values of the organisation you are applying for into the answers.

For instance, if you are applying into Chevron, your competence answers should reflect words or ideas like Diversity, Integrity, Partnership, Ingenuity, Trust, High Performance, and Protecting people and the environment.  You don’t want to throw the words just anyhow; that will be counter-productive, of course.  So, you have to meaningfully and creatively use them in your answers. Remember, impression is what you want to make and it must be a very good and memorable one.

For most organisations, the next stage of the recruitment process is the psychometric testing. However, some can have the telephone interview come before the testing, while some very few may not use the testing at all. You can also find a company like Chevron omitting the telephone interview altogether.  Whichever way they come, you should find out the process for the specific organisation into which you are applying and work carefully with it.

Psychometric testing

The focus of every psychometric testing is to assess the personality and ability of the applicant.  So, for the personality test, you should be ready to fill questionnaires or sit for Situational Judgement Test (SJT).  But what is common now is SJT and you should expect to write one if you applying for Eon or Shell.

The ability test comes in different parts, which are; numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, inductive reasoning, logical reasoning, abstract reasoning and some others.  You should not be surprised if you are asked to write a test of English by Baker Hughes, especially if you are not a native speaker.

Success in these aptitude tests have less to do with intelligence, given sufficient time, an average applicant will be very successful at them.  So, speed is a major factor and you have to be well practised to have it.  If possible, you should know about the grading system too, it will guide your decisions.  Some grading systems are not very interested in the number of questions you have answered but rather in the proportion answered correctly, while other grading systems penalise every unanswered question.  Though, whichever be the system, you are always safe with a good speed.

We have a number of psychometric testing companies around.  You should know which your company of choice employs.  This information is important, because you will be able to practise with the right materials.  You should also know the type of questions they administer too.  For instance, ExxonMobil administers only numerical tests provided by SHL, Chevron administers logical, mathematical and verbal reasoning provided by Onetest, Shell administers personality tests provided by Cubiks, Citigroup administers numerical and logical reasoning provided by Talent Q and the list goes on and on.

Telephone interview

What should you expect here?  More competency questions and the discussion of your CV.  The answers you supplied to the competency questions in your applications will also be examined for consistency.  So, in the process of going through your CV, don’t forget; always have your dates on your fingertips.

You should choose a location that is suitable for this interview.  In fact, you should block out some personal time for it.  The idea is to ensure that you are not interrupted in any way.  Moreover, ensure that your phone battery is sufficiently charged; any form of break in transmission is undesirable.

Here are some interview questions used by Shell.  While you shouldn’t necessarily expect these questions, if you have applied for Shell, they should serve as pointer of some sort to what you need to focus on.  So, get your mind prepared:

  • Tell me about your biggest achievement.
  • Tell me about a time you have worked in a diverse team with many contrasting opinions and personalities; how have you solved the issue?
  • Why have you chosen to work with us?

Again remember, your STAR method will be very handy in systematically tackling these questions.

The Assessment Centre

The call to the assessment centre leads to the final lapse of this journey.  However, you may have some event like face-to-face interview, just before the assessment centre day.  Eon does this, especially for their engineering applicant and the focus of this interview is on technical stuff.  So, at the assessment centre, what should you expect?  Firstly, the assessment  is usually for a whole day, except in rare cases when you have it for two, and you should be aware that senior executives of the company will be present; not only to observe and assess, but to also entertain any question from the applicants.

The line-up events for the day usually include all or some of the following; in-person interview, panel interview, group exercises, role play exercises, presentation and case studies.  Every aspect of this day is very important and you should give it your all, because it is probably the last opportunity you will get to make an impression before you are given your offer letter.  And don’t forget, your success here determines if you get the offer or not.

Mind you, it is not unusual for a company like Jaguar Land Rover to demand that you resit, at the assessment centre, the aptitude test you had taken earlier in the recruitment process.  And sometimes it turns out to be a more difficult version of the one taken earlier.  So, if you have gotten rusty, get ‘cleaned up’ and shining before going for the event.  It is your big day.  Make it count.

It will be my pleasure to hear the tale of how you made it to your company of choice and I do hope I am of some help along the way. Please, feel free to leave comments on my Blog or Forum on www.graduatemonkey.com.

Top 30 Companies That Use Psychometric Tests

With the arrival of internet, sending job applications has become extremely easier than it once was.  The implication of this to employers is that they have more applications to evaluate before they finally hire the suitable candidate for the job.  Many have employed psychometric tests as a weeding tool; to make decisions on which candidate should be dropped and which should proceed to the next stage of the recruitment process.

Yes, next stage of the recruitment process, because the psychometric tests are never or not to be used in isolation.  They are often combined with the familiar initial job advert, sifting through of CVs to determine which candidate should be called for the test and finally, post-test interviews.

No matter how much job seekers resent aptitude tests, it seems they have come to stay, considering that they are continually being favoured by employers – about 80 % of US Fortune 500 and 75 % of UK Times 100 companies use them.  The tests have been reputed to be a reliable method of choosing the most suitable applicant for a job or the most suitable staff for a promotion.

The inherent limitations or restrictions in the type of questions an employer can ask an applicant has never been a deterrent; rather applicants have a lot to lose from choosing not to answer the questions.

Psychometric tests are often designed to test two qualities of the applicants; the personality and the ability.  The personality tests are often done using questionnaires while ability is measured with tests like logical reasoning, numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, mechanical reasoning, abstract reasoning and others.

So, talking about the companies that use these tests, I know you must be interested in specifics.  Here are the top 30:

  1. ExxonMobil

With this multinational company, there is no end to the testing process.  The recruitment process is in stages, starting with online application form and ending at the assessment centre.  With the application form, a candidate is made to answer some competency questions and some other personality test questions are asked during a telephone interview and other assessments.  However, the main psychometric test is the second stage and it is an online numerical reasoning test of 20 minutes, supplied by SHL, one of the biggest online testing companies around.

  1. Chevron

You get to answer some competency questions during the application process too with Chevron after which follows an aptitude test.  The aptitude test is a 51 questions test for 20 minutes; varied in its composition – a mix of picture and word logic as well as mathematical and verbal reasoning.  The test is supplied by Onetest; an Australian psychometric testing company.  The test is such that the difficulty increases with succeeding questions.

  1. Ford Motor

Ford psychometric test is supplied by SHL and it is in two parts; numerical reasoning and inductive reasoning tests.

  • The numerical reasoning is a 20 question test for 20 minutes in which knowledge of statistics, ratios, percentages and graph interpretation will be tested.
  • The inductive reasoning requires knowledge of logic to succeed. It involves identifying patterns in a sequence of images.
  1. KPMG

The psychometric test for KPMG is supplied by Cubiks and it is divided into two parts; competency based questions and Decision making / problem solving tasks.

  • The competency based questions are actually a personality test, which tries to examine how the applicant works with people – their communication methods.
  • The Decision making/Problem solving tasks come in form of two tests; Situational Judgement Test (SJT) and Numerical Test. The SJT assesses the thought process of applicants and indicates whether the applicant is a leader or follower, while the numerical test is an assessment in tables, ratios, percentages and charts.
  1. Hewlett Packard

The test for HP, as Hewlett Packard is popularly known, is varied depending on the job functions applied for.  However, the recruitment process involves telephone interview and other assessments, during which behavioural and personality tests are verbally administered.  The ability test is basically numerical and verbal reasoning.

  1. Citigroup

The numerical reasoning is that in which the level difficulty level increases with succeeding questions and it is provided by Talent Q.  Their logical reasoning, a nonverbal rather pictorial test, have a reputation for being especially difficult and is only taken by applicants into technology, operations and HR job functions.

  1. Procter & Gamble

Practising for P&G, as it is called, is not only a good idea, but also a necessity.  You must be practised for success, because the tests are entirely different from whichever you might have been familiar with.It is in two parts:

  • Competency test, called P&G Success Drivers Assessment, examines if the thought patterns of candidates to judge whether they are P&G People with P&G Minds and P&G Ability. Indeed, this is a personality test.
  • The P&G Reasoning Tests comprises of numerical, verballogical and abstract reasoning.
  1. Microsoft

The personality test is over the telephone in an interview.  This is after a competency and an SHL tests.  You will need a very good knowledge of Microsoft for the competency test and also answer some behavioural questions.  The SHL test is a 24 questions test for 25 minutes, which follow the line of inductive reasoning.

  1. JPMorgan

JPMorgan’s recruitment often involves applicants writing series of aptitude tests which is followed by numerous interviews.  The format of their test is SHL reasoning and it has 3 parts; the numerical, verbal and technical tests.  The numerical involves answering 20 questions in 20 minutes without the use of calculator, and the verbal is also a 20 minutes test.

JPMorgan also administers a computer code based tests that last for an hour and 20 minutes.  And you should know too that every applicant is required to write a 300 words essay on their motivation for applying to JPMorgan.  You should take this as an opportunity to sell yourself.

  1. McDonald’s

The psychometric test for McDonald is basically a personality test which may need to be completed right on the spot or taken home to be returned when completed by the applicants.  Whichever way, it assesses what kind of employee you will be by asking questions that test your reactions in different circumstances.

  1. Bank of America

CVS Caremark mainly administers Kenexa test where applicants need to be a bit focused.  They have to be ready for answering some situational judgement test questions – whatever tells the employer what kind of employee you will be.  The idea of the test is to examine your thought process and from this conclusions about your personality can be made.

  1. Barclays

The recruitment process and testing of Barclays revolves across all the four job functions (field engineering, supply chain, commercial and technology) are the same.  The online application is accompanied by personality and behavioural based questions and this is followed by a telephone or video interview in which more personality and aptitude tests, based on SHL reasoning, will be administered.  Successful applicants are invited for the Barclays Experience during which, they are assessed on written and group exercises along with some case studies.  Success in the Barclays experiences leaders to you securing your offer letter.

  1. UBS

UBS administers both personality and ability tests.  Immediately after the application, if your application is considered impressive, you are invited for an online SHL numerical test.  After this a telephone interview is conducted during which, your knowledge of the company will be tested and important information is gathered about you.  If you have been impressive all the while, you are invited for a second SHL test; this time around, a verbal reasoning.  Successful candidates are then invited to the assessment centre during which they will participate in group work, individual presentation and in-person interviews.  Executives of the company will be around too, to observe and entertain any question from the applicants.  By then, you are very close to clinching your offer letter.

  1. 3M

To gain employment into this diversified technology is a job in its right, considering the numerous stages and tests to be written.  To start with, you will need to answer 2 major competency questions along with your application.  Work hard at this because your answers will go a long way to determine whether you will be called for the next stage which is the 3M Aptitude Test.  The aptitude test is provided by Saville and is in 2 parts; numerical and verbal reasoning.  After this comes the telephone interview.  You might want to be well ground with you STAR method of answering interview questions to shine in this.  Most of the questions in this stage will be competency based.  If you have succeeded so far, you will be invited to the assessment centre where the aptitude test will be administered again along with 3M interview, case study and 3M presentation, and 3M group exercises.

  1. Publix Super Markets.

The test for Publix Super Markets is in the form of interview.  The questions are competency based; assessing both the personality and skills of the applicant.

  1. Tullett Prebon

To be employed in this UK’s brokerage giant, an applicant will have to pass standard SHL numerical test, after which follows series of interviews.

  1. Capital One Financial

Capital One is one of the US bank holdings specialising in credit card and bank loans.  The entry tests into this company are provided by SHL.  The first is a personality test in which applicants fill a questionnaire, while the second is an ability test which involves both numerical and verbal reasoning.  Successful candidates in these tests are invited to an interview and then the assessment centre.

  1. Raytheon

For Raytheon, the order is; application, phone interview, tests and assessment centre.  The phone interview is focused on competency questions, while the tests are basically numerical and verbal reasoning.  At the assessment centre, you will participate in an in-person interview, group exercises and presentation.

  1. Union Pacific

If you are applying for Union pacific, depending on the job function you are applying for, you may have to undergo a one-on-one interview, a group interview, panel interview, skill test, personality test, drug screening and background check.

  1. Ernst and Young

There are 3 main stages for Ernst and Young recruitment; the application, the psychometric test and the assessment centre.  The psychometric test is provided by Saville Consulting Group and is usually online numerical, verbal and diagrammatic tests.  And you should know that you will also have to answer a seemingly more difficult version of the tests at assessment centre.  Other activities at the assessment centre include group exercise, interview, role play, case studies and presentations.

  1. Eon

When Eon, the world’s largest supplier of electricity utility, recruits, they employ the services of both SHL and Saville with their tests.  Candidates who are shortlisted from applications will be immediately invited to an online Situational Judgement Test (SJT) by SHL.  If you are successful in the SJT, you will be invited for the online aptitude test supplied by Saville.  The online aptitude test is basically numerical, verbal and abstract reasoning.  Following the tests is the telephone interview, after which is the face-to-face interview.  Competency questions are often asked during the telephone interview, while the face-to-face interview is about technical stuff.  So, only engineering applicant get to participate in it.  Other applicants proceed to the assessment centre which is the final stage of the recruitment.

  1. Exelon

Exelon is among the top 30 companies that use psychometric tests. They always examine candidates’ expertise with its different types like abstract reasoning is used to measure the individuals’ interpretation of how some symbols, or diagrams are arranged, identify a pattern and predict the next pattern.

  1. Duke Energy

As we all know that these tests are used to evaluate the determination, extent of knowledge, common sense and ability to identify certain conditions, Duke Energy relies on them to make everything perfect and suitable for their needs. They examine applicants to the maximum and try to figure out which department will be suitable for them. Duke Energy believes that candidates should be capable of working beyond their expertise in order to show their flexibility

  1. Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)

RBS works on the principle that there should be a suitable way to determine level of objectivity and standardization to traditional way of recruitment so that quality of candidates can be improved. With that concept in mind, they used to conduct psychometric tests for removing unconscious bias throughout the selection process.

  1. Grant Thornton

Grant Thornton uses SHL and Kenexa reasoning tests to recruit highly skilled, professional and experienced employees. They use to conduct different tests and interviews to screen candidates based on their resumes and try to find out how worthy they will be for the company.

  1. Australian Defence Force (ADF)

With the growing needs of customers, companies also have to improve their quality of services for which, they need assistance so as to find suitable employees. For this, experts have created psychometric tests and ADF has implemented them to see the results. The Australian Defence Force uses general ability tests from OneTest (test publisher) and mathematical ability tests to shortlist applicants.

  1. Deloitte

The procedure of recruitment in Deloitte is really strict as it uses TalentLens to scan the expertise, abilities and experience of applicants on the basis of their tests and interviews. They have a certain plan to evaluate efficiency so applicants should have to be really careful as they will be going to have tough screening of what they claim.

  1. Southern Company

The name of aptitude tests by Southern Company is EEI Test that comprises of MASS test (for plant maintenance), POSS test (for operating positions), TECH test (for technical positions), CAST test (for professional position), SASS test (for clerical positions) and SO/PD (for power dispatching and system operating positions). Candidates who apply for a certain position have to go through its respective test and need to gain maximum points to get the job.

  1. Ambulance Victoria GAP

The recruitment process of Ambulance Victoria GAP is challenging, long and can take more time than expected to fill the position. Candidates can apply for the ambulance services at any time and test will be conducted as needed. Their test examines candidates on different skills which are necessary to satisfy the needs of a particular position. So, applicants should have to be prepared and willing to take on any challenge.

  1. NextEra Energy

NextEra Energy takes help from pre-employment tests to identify qualified applicants for their openings. These tests and related procedures are same for all candidates and will be conducted by the EEI (Edison Electric Institute) for satisfactory and quality screening.

Psychometric Test Categories (Types) and Formats  

Psychometric tests are used to measure suitability of a candidate for a specific job or academic course. Some organizations also use them for transparency and accountability in decision-making on various aspects of career development for example in promoting individuals to a higher job rung or assessing training needs. The leading companies in financial, transport, energy and engineering businesses employ these tests in searching for talent, underscoring the prominence that these tests have assumed globally. Examples of these groups include Deutsche bank, Deloitte, Fidelity, EDF Energy, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, Jaguar Land Rover, ICAP, Kimberly Clark, Johnson and Johnson, and KPMG, to name a few big employers.

Since these candidates are usually considered for specialized skills, the aptitude tests are tailored to the job requirements. The most common abilities measured are the verbal, numerical, and abstract reasoning abilities or aptitudes.

Verbal tests

It measures candidate’s ability to understand verbal description or arguments according to their meaning and draw conclusions. The examination involves reading a passage, and then answering a series of multiple choice questions with “True”, “False”, or “Don’t Know”, based on the information contained in the passage. “Don’t Know” implies that further information is needed to choose the correct answer. A verbal comprehension test(http://www.verbalreasoningtest.org/) focuses more on spelling, grammar, and syntax. It is therefore important that a candidate understands the language in which, a verbal test is offered.

Numerical reasoning tests

It evaluates a candidate’s numerical acumen using facts and figures presented in data tables or graphs. Candidates are assessed for their knowledge of ratios, percentage, costs analyses, trends, currency conversion, etc. Their focus is anchored on the fact that organizations always monitor their performance and need timely decisions as to whether they should change tact through increasing, decreasing or maintaining current practices for optimum productivity, efficiency and minimal losses. What do these graphs tell us? What is the logic behind some number series? Speed and accuracy are important in all the psychometric tests, most users identify numerical reasoning as particularly demanding. Developers of aptitude tests preparation packages such as Graduate Monkey with their premium Aptutorial technique- have therefore identified various strategies, tips and shortcuts that candidates can employ to do the real tests in the shortest time. A key advantage of numerical tests is that unlike the Verbal tests which require deeper comprehension of language, mathematical symbols are universal and can be done with basic understanding of test instructions.

Abstract reasoning tests (Available at: http://www.psychometricinstitute.com.au/Free-Aptitude-Tests.asp)

It is also known as the conceptual reasoning test where, it only needs one to observe a range of diagrams/symbols, identify an emergent pattern and based on this, predict what the next pattern would be. It is based on logic and does not exert language demands on the candidates.

Abstract reasoning test tutorial offered by Graduate Monkey is really a good source to strengthen your skills because it uses different diagrams, shapes and symbols to enable test takers determine their intelligence. They have to compare different images in order to find the logic behind their creation and then have to give their solution. Just because of these features, Abstract reasoning test is also referred to as Non-verbal reasoning,logical reasoning or inductive reasoning test.

Formats of Psychometric tests

Aptitude tests come with different levels of difficulty depending on the education/knowledge of an individual in the organization e.g. a senior management level would have to take more advanced test compared to a junior, clerical officer.  Common formats are SHL, Kenexa, Saville, TalentLens, Cubiks and TalentQ. The key difference in the formats is based on the fact that some test for only one ability e.g. numeric while other combine the tests.

A document providing an overview of SHL tests summarizes the range of tests according to organizational roles (http://ceb.shl.com/assets/SHL_Overview_of_Ability_Tests.pdf). These tests are offered to (in ascending order) Semi-skilled, Technical staff, Administrative and clerical staff, information technology, sales, customer and call centre, Junior managers and supervisors, managers, professionals and graduates and finally, directors and senior managers. The tests offered include Work Skills series- (Transport and production, manual dexterity and finger dexterity); applied technology series, personnel test battery, Customer Contact Aptitude, Critical Reasoning, Management and Graduate item bank and Advanced managerial tests. SHL offers all the aforementioned abilities (verbal, abstract and numerical reasoning abilities). Different tests may combine evaluation of these abilities, so for example, the Advanced Managerial Test (senior managers) evaluates only verbal and numerical skills, and is offered only online. On the other hand, the Critical Reasoning Test Battery (junior managers and supervisors) test is used for all the 3 abilities. Semi-skilled workers do have some tests offered as pencil and paper formats. Kenexa tests also evaluate verbal, cognitive and inductive reasoning skills.

Saville reasoning test

This is a package developed by Saville consultants, containing different tests that broadly measure comprehension and technical analysis. In addition to the tests highlighted in SHL section, Saville also includes a technical aptitude test package that contains spatial, mechanical and diagrammatic reasoning.

TalentLens test

It measures an individual’s capabilities using 4 key dimensions which are crucial to improve organizational performance. These are critical thinking, problem-solving, collaborator and team playing.  Critical thinking is appraised using the RED model. A critical thinker will therefore Recognize assumptions in any situation, Evaluate arguments, and Draw solutions (the bold letters form RED). Critical thinking (http://us.talentlens.com/online-testing) is one of the strongest predictors of job success and overall performance.  Problem solving skills are analyzed using Raven’s Progressive Matrices (http://www.raventest.net/). They assess professionals abilities of individuals, “including advanced observation and clear-thinking skills, efficient problem solving, abstract reasoning, and the ability to learn”. Collaborator and team playing skills measure one’s personality and key motivation aspects that enable individuals to fit into their job roles as well as organization’s culture.

Cubiks test

It is an international assessment and development consultancy (http://www.cubiks.com/), with great importance throughout Europe, the United Arabs Emirates, Malaysia and the USA. They pride themselves in offering “culturally sensitive, competency-driven business psychological solutions in over 30 languages”.  Here, three broad test formats are offered: Reasoning for Business ability tests (RfB series) these test Verbal Reasoning,Numerical Reasoning, and Diagrammatic Reasoning and assessments have been designed for two key levels of applications; Managerial & Graduate and Business Support. The RfB suite includes supervised and unsupervised versions and assessments are available in many languages.

The Problem-Solving test series has been designed to assess how quickly and accurately an individual can solve new problems. It, however, only tests one’s ability to solve numerical and verbal problems. Verbal questions assess knowledge Antonyms (candidates have to choose which word from a group of five has the opposite meaning to another word); Deviation from category (one must decide which one of five words has a different meaning from the others); pair of concepts (Do two words considered have the same meaning, the opposite meaning, or neither the same nor the opposite meaning?); Verbal analogy (the candidate has to decide whether the underlying meaning or idea in two statements is the same, the opposite, or neither the same nor the opposite). Finally, Logical reasoning involves the participant deciding whether three considered statements have correct/incorrect logics).

Numerical problems on the other hand cover a series of numbers, simple calculations and complex calculations. In some situations, companies will choose to test clients more than once, and for this reason,

The last test, Logiks General, is an online test that measures an individual’s general cognitive ability. This twelve minute assessment measures a participant’s ability to solve verbal, numerical and abstract problems.

Talent Q is yet another consultancy firm that prides itself with over 50 countries’ coverage and has a huge network of clientele companies such as Virgin Atlantic, Royal Mail Groupo, JT Global, Lloyds Banking Group, Ford, and AstraZeneca. Graduate Monkey can even help you in successfully applying for any of such companies. All you have to do is to take this exam.

TalentQ tests

It focuses on 4 key broad aspects: “personality and motivation”; “Ability”; “Competency-based sifting” and “360-degree feedback”. Personality and motivation tests (https://www.trytalentq.com/) measure an individual’s behavioral preference at work, with a focus on “how staff prefer to manage relationships with others, their approach to work and their sources of energy and motivation”. This is captured through “Dimensions”. Drives, on the other hand, is an online questionnaire focusing on individual’s values and motivations in the work place, and focuses on factors that “stimulate and energize individuals in their daily working lives” (https://www.talentqgroup.com/assessments/).

Ability is measured with the help of two tests: “Aspects ability” and “Elements”. Aspects ability measures verbal, numerical and checking skills and is useful for recruiting frontline, customer service and sales staff. On the other hand, “Elements” measure verbal, numerical and logical reasoning and is suitable primarily for graduate, professional, managerial and executive level roles.

Competency-based sifting measures behavioral preferences at work in relation to the most relevant competencies for the job, through “aspects styles”. Lastly, 360-degree feedback is a “MultiView (http://m.mcn.com.au/multiview/)”, competency-based feedback questionnaire that identifies strengths and development needs of employees. It aims to facilitate performance improvement.

Psychometric interviews can be done in different ways, depending on how the tests are designed.  Some tests can only be done online while others are pen and paper based. This, therefore, means that in some instances, one can get instant feedback on performance while in others, candidates have to wait for their results. Requirements differ too- whereas some tests allow use of tools such as calculators, in others, these are prohibited. Since they are primarily meant to objectively identify the most suitable candidates from many competitors, these tests usually give lesser time to answer all of the questions and some candidates complained about this factor. Optimum conditions for gauging one’s prowess are set during this examination- quiet, well lighted rooms and clear instructions to avoid ambiguity. Overall it is assumed that candidates sitting in these tests are in good health.  The evaluators have the discretion to define a pass mark, and in some instances, use other criteria when none of the candidates achieve the set threshold. Numerous sites such as Graduate Monkey, SHL online and Psychometric institute have developed resources that applicants of aptitude tests can use to prepare for the real test.  Some packages are accessed at a fee e.g. £19 while others are offered free of charge.