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Candy Crushing it to the job you love

Weronika Z Benning5 June 2016

I have a confession to make – I never quite got on with Candy Crush – a bit too colourful and bit too cutesy for me, personally. I’ve always been more of a Clash of Clans kinda guy (Town Hall 9, soon to be Town Hall 10, for those of you in the know).

Yesterday I learnt that the average gamer (apparently there is such a thing!) is a 26 year old female. I also learnt that the gamification of psychometrics is coming. In a big way. At KPMG in Australia, they started testing out their own game on applicants for internships. At PwC they’re using gamification in recruitment at their Hungary branch. It seems like it’s just a matter of time, before it spreads – and definitely not to just the big 4 accountancy / audit firms.

I know what you’re thinking! Can’t they just leave us and our games alone – leave us one safe haven from the difficulties of the world – and stop trying to be down with the kids!? Apparently not! (Eeeeep).

But there is an upside or two. It means less reliance on verbal and numerical reasoning type psychometric tests that I know cause many applicants anxiety (hurrah!), as well as a more, natural and intuitive approach to teasing out your skills – including resilience, intelligence and imagination. Plus, ermmm, you can spend your time on Candy Crush preparing for job success. Yep, you heard me right.

Me – I’m looking forward to spending time playing such apps – possibly even this afternoon (I have a very understanding boss) – all in the name of becoming a more effective and understanding Careers Consultant – honest guv! Such offerings include Firefly Freedom and Cosmic Cadet (what is it with alliterative gaming app names!?) – two offerings from Arctic Shores – a firm that has marries occupational psychology, recruitment and gaming.

Let’s get gaming!

By Raj Sidhu, Careers Consultant

How to succeed in employer aptitude tests – top tips from WikiJob

Weronika Z Benning20 May 2016

Many organisations across a number of different sectors now use aptitude tests to assess the skills of applicants as part of the recruitment process. Frequently used in entry level positions, these tests are designed to evaluate applicant capabilities in numerical, problem solving, critical thinking, behavioural and communication tasks so that they can recruit the highest calibre candidates. All of the tests are completed under exam conditions and in some businesses, particularly those which are extremely competitive, the pass mark is high. If you are to succeed in the recruitment process, preparatory work is absolutely essential for any type of aptitude test.

Preparation is Key

As with any other assessments, there are no shortcuts to passing aptitude tests. Success requires time, patience and practice. The first step in the preparation process is to research the type of test that you will be asked to complete. This is usually provided in your confirmation letter or email sent by the recruiter. There are many different types of aptitude tests including verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning and logical reasoning. Each of these tests will include slightly different questions so you must ensure that you prepare for the right test or tests.

Test Questions

Once you have an idea about the type of test that you will be asked to complete, there are a number of resources online to help you practice for your aptitude test. It is strongly recommended that you make use of these practice websites to sit as many tests as you can work through. As you progress you will notice that you will improve your speed and accuracy so you can approach the actual aptitude tests with more confidence.

Instructions

With all assessments you will be provided with a set of instructions. It is really important that you read these thoroughly before you begin as there have been some instances of candidates misunderstanding the instructions and approaching the test incorrectly. Overlooking important details in the instruction information at the beginning can have a detrimental impact on your score, so always read them carefully.

Pace

One of the great things about carrying out practice aptitude tests is that it gives you the opportunity to perfect your technique. Aptitude tests are very fast paced, with approximately 30 seconds allocated to each question so the more practice and preparation you carry out, the faster you can progress through each question. One of the main challenges within any of the aptitude tests is to evaluate how well candidates can think when working under pressure. However, it is really important to read the question properly and provide a prompt answer. Don’t spend too long thinking over a question; if it is too difficult move on and then you can always return to it at the end.

Trick Questions or Answers

Aptitude tests are designed to make you think. By familiarising yourself with the questions you will be able to identify whether the question is designed to confuse you or are designed specifically to make you think. The majority of test questions are quite straightforward but there will be some sprinkled throughout the test which require a little more thought.

Top Tips for Aptitude Tests

We have put together a list of top tips that can help you prepare for aptitude tests and increase your chances of securing an interview or progressing to the next stage in the recruitment process;

#1 Practice, Practice, Practice

Aptitude tests are often completed through an online assessment system, so practice these as much as you can online to familiarise yourself with the way in which they are structured.

#2 Materials

If permitted, take with you the necessary tools for your test. This could include blank sheets of paper, pens, a watch and a calculator

#3 Time

One of the main problems associated with aptitude tests is getting the timing right; candidates need to learn how to work quickly and accurately to progress through the test.

#4 Location

When you practice the aptitude tests ensure that you are in a suitable environment and free from distractions.

#5 Practice Tests

On the day of your actual aptitude test the assessor may issue you with a set of optional practice questions. Never pass this opportunity by as it is a great way for you to familiarise yourself with the style of the test before you begin.

#6 Guidance

Always read through any accompanying notes or guidance that you are provided with in the test. These could offer vital pieces of information to complete the test correctly.

#7 If in doubt move on

Don’t spend too long answering a single question. Aptitude tests are designed to be fast paced so you don’t have time to spend more than 30 seconds on each question. If you find a question difficult, move on to the next one and then return to it at the end if you have time.

#8 Make Notes

Depending on the type of aptitude test it is always advised that you have a piece of A4 paper to hand so that you can make quick notes or write down calculations rather than trying to work it out using the corner of your assessment paper or on screen.

#9 Calculator

It may seem trivial but use a good calculator that you are familiar with so you can work out your answers quickly.

#10 Feedback

After the aptitude test always ask for feedback particularly if you didn’t make it to the interview stage. Ask the assessor if you can have a copy of your paper and answers to see where you went wrong and the areas which require improvement. Feedback is a great way to see where you can improve.

 

Guest blog post contributed by Edward Mellett, WikiJob

 

How to tackle psychometric tests

uczjsdd7 December 2015

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Psychometric tests are one of the hoops some of you will have to jump through to get a job. Large employers often use these tests as a quick and easy way of cutting down the huge volume of applications they receive. So how should you tackle them? Well, firstly, don’t panic. Secondly, do prepare. And thirdly, don’t panic some more.

1) DON’T Panic

Easier said than done, right? Employers tell us that lots of people do panic. They assume they’ll fail and so they opt out of the recruitment process at the psychometric test stage without even sitting the test. And a few employers have told us that women self-select out a lot more than men. So stop doing that people! Especially female people! If you take the test you may pass and get through to the next application stage, or you may fail and not progress to the next stage. If you don’t take the test you’re certain not to progress. So give yourself a chance and take that test.

It’s quite common for employers to test verbal and numerical abilities (though not all will test both), and sometimes logical thinking too. The numerical tests can seem scary, especially if you’ve been studying a humanities degree for the past few years. But if employers are accepting applicants from all academic disciplines (and many are) then they’re clearly not looking only for maths geniuses. And some tests are designed to be extremely difficult, with too many questions for the assigned time. So people can often think they didn’t do very well and then find they passed.

2) DO Prepare

Saying that, you should probably panic a bit…but just enough to make sure you put appropriate time into preparing. Psychometric tests aren’t a walk in the park. If you’re out of practice working with graphs and numbers then you’re likely to be slow and perhaps even bad at numerical reasoning tests when you first look at them. Similarly, even if you think you’re good with words, verbal reasoning tests aren’t always straightforward, and may be harder than you expect.

But with practice you can improve. Employers often offer the chance to take practice tests before the real one. Always take them up on this. And as a UCL student or recent graduate you can try a range of practice tests through UCL Careers. These tests provide feedback on how you compare to others in terms of speed and accuracy, helping you to gauge your ability and see if you’re improving. There are also handy hints and tips to be found on careerstagged – just sign in with your UCL login and search “psychometric tests”. Always tap these free university careers resources first  – they’re great and just for you – but if you’ve exhausted them and still aren’t confident, there are websites out there that offer the option to buy more sample tests.

Another way to ensure you’re prepared is to find out as much as possible about your target employers’ tests. Psychometric tests can vary greatly, so it’s worth investigating which provider your target employer is using, and then focusing your practice on the same types of tests. It’s also useful to know whether your potential employer negatively marks their tests for incorrect answers. This information isn’t always readily available, but if you can find it, it will help you work out how to balance speed versus accuracy in your answers.

3) DON’T Panic….again

Preparation and practice will bring your performance up to its optimum level. But of course there is a peak point for every individual, past which they’re unlikely to improve. If you’ve put in the work and still not made the grade, don’t feel dejected. Different employers use different tests and different cut-off points – some much harder and higher than others – so one rejection shouldn’t put you off all employers with psychometric tests. And not all employers and roles require the completion of these tests, so think about other routes into your chosen career or employer – maybe with the help of a one-to-one appointment with a UCL careers consultant. Another bit of good news is that there may well be a trend emerging of employers moving away from psychometric tests; this year Barclays scrapped theirs completely in order to make the recruitment process faster and more enjoyable for everyone involved.

 

S Donaldson, Careers Consultant, UCL

Image from Boaz Arad