Assessment Centres, Psychometric Testing And Gamification
Assessment Centres utilise a selection of tests and exercises that are designed to assess a range of competencies prior to a one-on-one interview. Assessment centres allow employers to assess a large number of candidates at one time, and are considered a fair and objective way to recruit. Activities may include work-scenario exercises, group discussions, and role plays. Some may use psychometric tests at this stage. Assessment centre testing can last from a few hours to several days. Employers are looking for applicants with the most suitable personal attributes, problem solving skills and general aptitude, and for those who would fit best and excel within the organisation’s structure and culture. They are looking for your work-related abilities and competencies, rather than your technical skills and knowledge.
Prepare and research as you would for a face-to-face interview. Make sure you are familiar with the role on offer, desired competencies, and read all test materials carefully and thoroughly. Take practice aptitude tests – see links to examples of free tests in the Additional Resources section at the end of this topic.
How to stand out
Demonstrate your leadership and communication skills by showing initiative. Voice your ideas and solutions to problems, and be inclusive and respectful of the other team members during discussions. Be confident but not aggressive in your approach to solving problems and working in a team. The assessor will not know how perfect you are for the role unless you speak up and share your thoughts and ideas. The assessor isn’t always looking for the correct answer to a problem, but your problem solving skills in reaching your answer and the way you interact with others.
Assessment centre exercise types
Written exercises and case studies
These exercises involve reviewing/analysing a work sample and presenting your findings in person as a presentation or as a written exercise in the form of a letter, email, memo or briefing.
This exercise simulates an in-tray/email Inbox and your challenge is to prioritise the tasks. You will be given a short time to do this. Time will be of the essence as you will not be able to read all the material thoroughly; be prepared to read enough to enable you to come up with an understanding of the issues and be able to suggest a sensible justifiable solution.
According to the 2017 Australian Association of Graduate Employers (AAGE) Employer Survey, 62% of employers used group exercises as part of their graduate recruitment process. These will involve working in a small group on an activity while being observed by assessors. Assessors will take note of your problem solving, negotiation and communication skills, and how you behave in a social setting and deal with different personalities. Some exercises will require you to work as a group to find a solution and present it back. Examples include:
- Authentic business scenario where candidates are assigned different roles to play
- Debating a work-related problem
- Group discussion on a relevant issue, such as a policy or wicked problem
Individual or group presentations are a common form of assessment activity. You may know your topic a few days in advance, or it may be given at shorter notice. An understanding of good presentation structure and style will help you to successfully get through these exercises. Remember to concentrate equally on content and how you come across – your body language and tone of voice can make a strong impact on your presentation. Try to anticipate the needs of your audience and tailor the presentation to them. Essential elements of a good presentation include:
- Well defined structure
- Relevant, succinct content
- Appropriate body language, eye contact, voice and pauses
- Use of visual aids, if appropriate
- Preparation of answers to likely questions at the end of your presentation
Sometimes tests, tasks, role-plays or presentations can be given to you on the day of the interview without much, or any, warning. Remember, these tests are only one part of the recruitment process. The person who performs best in tests may not be the most suitable candidate for the job. Try to relax beforehand. Unless you know that a particular test will be given, don’t try to predict and prepare for tests that you may not need to do. You should listen carefully to instructions, but don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand what you need to do. Time management is important – if you have to answer 50 questions in an hour then you can only spend just over a minute/question. Try to concentrate on each question, but don’t waste time on difficult questions if you get stuck, as it is better to move on and come back to them at the end if you have time.
Psychometric assessments (in the form of aptitude and personality tests) are designed by psychologists and implemented to assess a candidate’s abilities, personality, motivations, values and interests under standardised conditions and in line with a particular job description. Psychometric assessment may be used early in the selection process. These psychological assessments are generally administered as a series of online or paper-based tests and may be given at an assessment centre.
Aptitude tests are used to measure numerical, logical, verbal, abstract and spatial reasoning, as well as comprehension and job-specific skills. These tests are usually timed, so the pressure can be quite intense. The key to success is to work quickly, but accurately through the challenges. To prepare for aptitude tests, find out what type of tests will be administered and what they will measure, what the duration of the tests will be, and if materials are able to be used ie calculators for numerical tests.
Personality tests are designed to help employers gain more insight into each candidate’s work style and preferences. There is no need to study for a personality test as there are no right or wrong responses. They can be used to:
- Reveal your interests and motivations chosen through a series of preferential questions
- Reveal whether you are a good fit for the company culture and role
- Assess your personality type, emotional intelligence, perceptions and communication style
- Assess job and industry specific interests
Emotional intelligence (EI) tests
Emotional intelligence (EI) tests may be used to identify candidates who possess a good level of ’emotional competency’. EI is your capacity to recognise and manage emotions in yourself and in your relationships, use feelings to guide your thoughts and actions, and motivate yourself and others.
Gamification involves using online games to test a candidate’s suitability for a role. What you are tested on will depend on the organisation and position, but these types of games generally test your knowledge and skills, such as your creativity, innovative thinking, problem solving and time management. Through this technology the employer can track how quickly you learn, your behaviours and in some cases how you approach risks. Employers that use gamification may team this method with other types of assessments, such as psychometric testing.
- You don’t need to be a professional gamer to do well in these games. Recruiters don’t make them overly technical and difficult to follow, but you do need to take them seriously.
- Make sure you are in a quiet place where you can focus on the game without distractions.
- Read the instructions. You may not get a second chance to play the game, so be sure to do any pre-reading they give you.
- Read over the job description so that you understand the key responsibilities and skills required for the job – these are skills you are likely to be tested on, so keep that in mind while you are playing the game.
If you have a disability, you may need to ask for adjustments to certain methods of testing. Students with a disability (including mental health conditions) who are in their final year, seeking a final year placement or graduate employment (including pre-employment testing) can get support from University Specialist Employment Partnerships (USEP), which is a free, on-campus employment service. The program is available for Townsville and Cairns students who are Australian citizens.
Marriott International uses a game called “My Marriott Hotel” to screen job candidates – they design their own restaurant, purchase inventory on a budget, train employees and serve guests. They are awarded points for satisfied customers and they lose points for poor customer service.
“Reveal the Game” was developed by L’Oreal to help applicants challenge themselves in the development of a new product launch using a real-world scenario. Applicants can compete with each other and share results via social media. For recruiters, it is a great way to gauge actual performance and recruit the best.