Passing unexpected job tests

RICHARD MEADOWS
Last updated 05:00 29/01/2014

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If you haven't been to a job interview for a few years, you could be in for an unpleasant surprise. If the interview itself wasn't scary enough, now you might have to sit a test too.

Psychometric testing is a component of many job interviews these days, says Frog Recruitment director Jane Kennelly.

The tests are used to measure basic skills, like numerical and verbal reasoning.

"They're also used to really delve into some of the hidden, less obvious attributes of an individual," Kennelly says.

Those include your personality, attitude and communication or teamwork style.

It costs money to conduct the tests, so they are often dependent on the importance of the role being applied for. But, even a job manning the deep-fryers at KFC can involve filling out a basic behavioural questionnaire.

Psychometric testing comes in a range of forms, Careers New Zealand career development team leader Pat Cody says.

They can be a multiple choice test, or what is termed an "inbox exercise" where you do some sort of practical activity in the workplace. They can also be timed, adding an element of extra pressure. This can generate flashbacks to dreaded high school or university exams, and all the associated stress. "Some people have concerns and anxiety, some people love it," says Cody.

Luckily, you can get online and find a range of practice tests to brush up and acclimatise to the format.

Cody has worked with people who have practised a whole range of assessments online before they go for the actual test. "One of the biggest things it's helped them with is getting those anxieties out of the way."

Kennelly has similar experiences. "Statistically, people who practise do better in psychometric assessment than people who don't," she says.

She talked to someone recently who had a phobia about assessments, and was particularly worried about the numeracy test.

"She knew that it just wasn't going to go well."

But she went online, and tackled it like she would an exam. "She practised, practised, practised, practised. I don't know if she passed with flying colours, but she certainly got the job."

You can also ask a prospective employer what sort of tests will be used, says Cody.

Rather than being seen as a sign of impertinence, it actually shows you're using initiative and taking the application seriously.

It also gives you another all-important chance to stand out from the bunch and have your name heard an extra time.

The New Zealand Police is one of the many organisations that routinely use psychometric testing.

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If you want to test your own prowess, there is an easy version of a sample test, which will give you a feel for what you might face, on the New Zealand Police website.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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