What you need to know
about job interview tests

Posted: 14th Nov 2019

Understand this most commonly used assessments in measuring a candidate’s suitability for a role

According to a poll compiled by specialist recruitment firm Randstad, the number of UK companies relying on interview tests during the recruitment process has increased.

What types of tests could you potentially face?

If you haven’t had to take an interview test yet during an employment search, the chances are that you soon will.

The tests are designed to assess candidates for various skills and capacities, such as behavioural skills, language skills, problem-solving skills and critical reasoning capacity. Typically, the tests are administered under exam conditions. These job-related exercises attempt to get to the heart of your professional capabilities, personality and values; they provide useful insights into skills and competencies that are sometimes difficult to assess via a face-to face interview.

The Personality Test

These tests are usually administered during the first round of interviews and are an assessment of your values, interests and motivations. The objective of this test is to evaluate how you fit into the role and organisational culture. The test analyses your behaviour, emotions and relationships in a variety of situations.

When taking a personality test:

  • Make sure that you are honest and consistent with your responses
  • Don’t try to guess the best answer
  • Pay close attention to what you’re being asked
  • Remember there is no right or wrong answer

Aptitude Tests

Aptitude tests are one of the most commonly used assessments in measuring a candidate’s suitability for a role. The tests are designed to predict how well you can perform a specific task or role.

They are strictly timed and a typical test might allow 30 minutes for 30 or so questions. The most commonly used set of cognitive tests includes – abstract/conceptual reasoning, verbal reasoning and numerical reasoning. The tests can be taken online or at a testing centre where they are usually paper-based.

  • Treat the test like you would any other exam.
  • Work swiftly and accurately through any test.
  • Work out the maximum time you can spend on any question and stick to it religiously. You can return to questions at the end.
  • Never get stuck on any particular question, even if you think you nearly have it.
  • If you are going to an assessment centre, take a calculator you understand with you. If you do not, you will be forced to use whatever they might provide you with.


Written tests

Depending on the job you have applied for and the industry, you may be required to do a written test. This may be in the form of a grammar test or an essay aimed at assessing your written and communication skills, creative thinking or subject-matter knowledge.

These interview tests usually involve writing an essay, email, letter or report on a given topic, though you may sometimes be asked to proofread, review or summarise a document. Tasks typically last 40-60 minutes, and your common sense, comprehension and written communication are being assessed. Ensure that you:

  • Read all the instructions and materials carefully;
  • Use a combination of headings, bullet points and writing styles to add emphasis;
  • Use acronyms only after you’ve explained them;
  • Use correct spelling and grammar


Tips for the day of a job interview test

Listen to instructions carefully and don’t hesitate to ask questions and clarify doubts.

Concentrate on one question at a time, and move on if you are stuck on any particular question; you can always revisit it later.

Don’t panic if you don’t finish the test; some tests are designed so that few people will be able to finish them in time.

Remember, these tests are only one part of the selection process; you will have other opportunities to discuss your professional competencies during the recruitment process.

Although there is no set way to prepare for these tests, it will boost your confidence if you know what to expect.

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