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Types of test

Personality tests

These tests are designed to find out more about your personality and how you react in particular situations. In certain jobs your personality could be a deciding factor in whether you can do a job. Personality tests are usually in the form of questions about how you would react or what you would do in particular situations. These tests indicate aspects of your personality, such as:

  • levels of anxiety, sociability and assertiveness
  • how cautious or impulsive you are
  • whether you have introvert or extrovert characteristics
  • leadership potential

These personality traits can be very important in certain areas of work - and they can give an idea of how you are likely to fit in with the work environment. They may also be able to give a rough idea how far a candidate is likely to go in their career - for instance whether they have got what it takes to progress to management.

Tips

  • Honesty will always mean that you get the most out of these tests.
  • Follow the instructions carefully.
  • Employers may not be looking for just one type of person, so don't try to guess what kind of answers they are looking for. You can anticipate some areas, but do not go overboard.

Interests and values tests

These tests are generally in the form of questions regarding your perceptions and aspirations about careers. They cover areas such as preferred working styles, career development and training goals. This kind of test is useful for highlighting your preferred working style and career ambitions.

Team role tests

These are similar to personality tests but concentrate on the aspects of your personality that affect teamworking. In many jobs it is vital that you can work well as part of a team - these tests are useful for making sure that you have the required characteristics. They are also useful for assessing the likely group dynamics when building a new team.

Assessments of team roles can mean candidates are involved in group discussions. Potential employers will be interested in your contributions to the discussion and also how you interact with others in the group. For example, how do you behave if someone says something you strongly dislike, or how do you make sure your contribution is received and valued by the group? Group tasks may also be set to see what roles team members take when dealing with a problem.

Tips and hints

  • Listen when other people speak.
  • Be supportive when you agree with other people's ideas.
  • Give your opinion diplomatically.
  • Always stay calm - never lose your temper.
  • Try to encourage quiet members of the group to speak.
  • Use your natural sense of humour where appropriate, but do not fake it!

Test batteries

Test batteries combine the different types of tests in order to get a good overview of a person's aptitudes, personality and career interests. They are particularly useful in self-assessment for making career decisions.

Assessment Centre

These exercises are designed to see how you perform in real work situations. The tasks can be fairly challenging and include presentations, group activities, discussions and role play. A typically central element of the assessment centre is the 'in-tray exercise':

You are given a tray or in-box full of various items such as memos, phone messages, letters etc., along with information about the company and your role. Your task is to make decisions, prioritise your workload, draft replies, delegate tasks, recommend action to superiors, to name some of the tasks. You will be assessed on how you handle complex information within a limited time frame.

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