Interview tests/assessments-what to expect

Interviewers, hiring managers and recruiter all take different approaches to interviews. But, what is becoming more common are interview tests/assessments. This is a great way for the decision-maker to decide whether you’re suitable for the role based on what you present. In this blog, we give you what to expect based on each assessment situation and the preparation to undertake to succeed!

Interview presentations:

Very common, and are great to test your skills in timing, public speaking, confidence, persuasion and creativity. Presentations usually last around 15 minutes and should be prepared in advance. You will usually be pre-warned if you are going to present a presentation. However, you could be given for example 30 minutes to prepare one before you present it on the day to also assess how well you work under pressure.

When you are preparing the presentation, make sure you do the following:

  • Know how you will be assessed; the assessor should tell you what he wants from you.
  • Present in a logical order; aim, introduction, methodology, conclusion.
  • Do a mock presentation, ideally in front of someone. Or run it through yourself if you have time. Time yourself and request feedback to know how you can improve for the real presentation.

When giving the presentation:

  • Don’t always refer to the slides, eye contact is key so the audience does not get distracted.
  • Remain calm, this will show you have confidence.
  • Look at the clock for the time you started, refer to this so you are on track, but not so much that it puts you off.

Written tests:

Tests are usually based on a topic, for example, ‘how would you reply to this email?’ or ‘Summarise this text to someone’ It’s unlikely that you will know what the question or topic is until you’re sat in front of the test, so staying calm in the situation is crucial. A test can take anything from 30-60 minutes and are used to assess you on common sense, articulating your time well, written communication including spelling and grammar.

How to approach the test:

  • Write in a logical order; add headings, bullet point, and paragraphs so it’s easily read.
  • Write with all your knowledge; the test is usually industry-specific, so don’t be afraid to show off!

Case study tests/interviews:

This is typical if you are applying for an accountancy or consulting role, to test your analysis and problem-solving. This involves a situation being described to you and you will respond with the advice in the form of a report or verbal explanation.

What the interviewer is looking for:

  • Justification of your decisions, and how you got to the outcome.
  • Looking for patterns or contradictions.

How to approach the task:

  • Read all the material before you start.
  • Manage your time.
  • Pay attention to detail by highlighting the key points.

Group discussions:

This is a common interview exercise, which you will be alongside other candidates with. The assessor is looking for your engagement with others in a competitive situation. To stand out you really need to get your points and knowledge across to show that you are unique against the rest. The discussion will usually be based on a debate, so what you need to do is…

  • If you would like to support what someone has said then you could say “I would like to add” so it gives you the chance to elaborate on someone’s point
  • If you have another point of view then you could start by saying “Another approach would be” this way, you are accepting others points but you have your own opinion.
  • To be even further ahead, you could then pull the discussion together to really show off. By simply saying “We seem to be agreeing that we take the following action” this shows leadership skills, but only pull this forward when there’s a decision made. You don’t want to come across that you’re rushing.

Overall, there are lots of different interview tests that employers use, but these are the most common. Good luck in your interviews and remember to stay calm when you are presented with a test!

By Laura Holland

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