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The recruitment process can be a challenging experience which is often filled with the unexpected. As you progress through the recruitment process, employers may ask you to
carry out a variety of tests and exercises to assess your suitability, particularly if you make it beyond the initial screening stage. There are many activities that you may be asked to complete and they all aim to develop a detailed understanding of your strengths and capabilities.
Presentations are popular because they allow recruiters to assess a variety of skills such as communication, persuasion, data analysis and creativity to name a few. Depending on the opportunity a presentation can last as little as 10 minutes or as long as 20 minutes. During this time, you will be asked to prepare accompanying slides in either PowerPoint or Keynote. If you are attending an assessment day it is very likely that you will be asked to deliver a presentation, perhaps on a topic that has been provided beforehand or even based on an activity such as a case study that you have already worked through. If the latter, you will be given approximately half an hour to prepare which is also used as an opportunity for recruiters to assess your ability to work under pressure.
The most successful candidates are those who prepare effectively by:
- Tailoring their presentation to the company and the topic.
- Ensuring that the presentation is well structured with a clear opening section, the
main points that you wish to raise and a concise summary.
- Creating a presentation that is visually appealing without detracting from the main
- Gathering background information which will allow you to answer any questions that the recruiters may ask at the end of the presentation.
During the presentation there are some best practice guidelines that you should follow:
- Establish and maintain regular eye contact with the panel
- Try to remain as calm and confident as possible
- Speak clearly and concisely
- Ensure that the presentation is well timed while allocating time at the end for questions
- Pause frequently throughout to allow the panel to engage with what you are saying.
Presentations can be a challenge, even for the most confident and prepared candidates but with the right approach there is no reason why it can’t be a success.
In Tray or E-Tray Exercises
Sometimes referred to as an e-tray exercise, this type of activity will assess your ability to
prioritise and organise a series of tasks. They are extremely popular with graduate recruiters because they are an accurate way to evaluate performance and certain skills such as decision making, analysis, time management, communication and accuracy. During this exercise which will last anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes, you will be asked to progress through a series of tasks such as processing correspondence, reports, charts, messages and business documents. During the assessment you will be expected to prioritise each of the tasks and justify the decisions behind the order you have chosen. This could involve preparing a response, making a decision, delegating or responding to an enquiry.
Succeed in an in-tray exercise by:
- Making bullet point lists of the actions you need to take, paying close attention to
detail and only using the information you have been provided
- Justifying the actions you have taken and the decisions you have made
- Carefully reading through all materials and instructions before you begin
- Work quickly and accurately with attention to detail and logic.
A group exercise will usually involve up to 10 applicants and an activity will be provided to assess teamwork, collaboration, decisiveness, problem solving and communication to name a few.
Typical activities include:
Discussions – Candidates are presented with a common situation that would arise in the
business and are asked to reach a logical decision, solution or conclusion.
Role Play – Each member of the group will be allocated a specific role along with a brief and some background information.
Ice breaker – This aims to relax and bond the team and are perhaps the most common
group activities. They usually involve something such as building something from paper, pins or straws and they aim to assess your communication skills and ability to work as a team.
Succeed at group exercises by:
- Making a valuable contribution and delivering any points clearly, confidently and
- Avoiding interrupting, undermining or criticising other members of the group
- Carefully following instructions
- Actively encouraging others to participate, demonstrate positivity and show appreciation for other members of the group.
Often found in roles such as consulting or accounting, these aim to assess your ability in
problem solving, analysis and creativity. At the start of the activity, a recruiter will describe a situation and you will need to respond with suitable advice in the form of a written or verbal report.
Succeed at Case Studies by:
- Justifying and defending the decisions that you make
- Identify key issues with careful analysis to understand any inconsistencies
- Carefully managing your time.
A psychometric test is an effective way for a recruiter to assess the personality, knowledge and skills of a candidate. They can appear at any stage in the recruitment process and it is not unheard of to sit a psychometric test more than once. Most psychometric tests are completed online, and you will have to work through a series of questions in a specific period of time.
There are two main types of psychometric test; those which evaluate your personality and those which assess your aptitude.
Personality tests will explore your motivations, values and interests, exploring how your
character fits in with the goals, mission and vision of the organisation. The most common
psychometric tests include:
- Diagrammatic Reasoning
- Numerical Reasoning
- Verbal Reasoning
- Spatial Reasoning
- Error/Fact Checking.
Aptitude tests on the other hand aim to assess your cognitive ability and reasoning, evaluating whether you possess the right skill set to make a valuable contribution to the
business. To find out more about these assessments you can read The Complete Guide to
Psychometric Tests here. Graduate recruiters use these assessments frequently during the recruitment process because they provide a particularly accurate picture of how well you would perform as an employee.
Succeed at aptitude tests by:
- Ensuring that you take the test in a comfortable environment which is quiet and free from distractions
- Carefully reading through the instructions taking note of what you have been asked
- Working through the questions quickly and accurately
- Answer the questions honestly and consistently
- Trusting your initial reactions rather than trying to select the best response.
Interview tests and exercises are appearing more and more in the recruitment process. The best way to prepare is to find out what sort of tests recruiters are using. That way you can fine tune your technique and maximise your chances of success.