It’s becoming more and more common for companies to include testing as part of their interview process when hiring finance professionals, at all levels. In general, you will find this process more commonly in the multinationals, or larger companies, but you should be prepared for some element of testing with any company.
First thing to remember is that it is very rare that you would be ruled ‘in or out’ on the basis of psychometrics or any other form of testing, however it may shape a final decision. Second thing to be aware of is that they take all forms – one-to-one verbal questioning, online tests, assessment centres and paper-based questionnaires.
#1 Know that there is no ‘perfect’ answer for psychometrics
Psychometrics evaluate personality traits and qualities. And because of this, there are no right or wrong answers. Questions will often take the form of multiple choice questions or a sliding scale where you have to ‘grade’ your response to a certain statement like: “In a social situation I prefer to watch on from the side-line.” These questions are hard to answer, but the most important thing to remember is that there is no ‘right’ response and trying to create the right impression through answering questions in the way you perceive best, won’t work. Besides, there are mechanisms built in to detect this! Take each question in isolation and be as true to your gut instinct as possible.
#2 However, know that practice makes perfect with aptitude testing
The difference with aptitude testing is that the format of the tests is usually timed – and the biggest obstacle to performance is being able to use the platform with confidence and not spend undue time on figuring out how to ‘work’ the platform! This is why practice is important.
Here’s a quick explanation of the main types of aptitude:
- Verbal Reasoning: Verbal tests are designed to measure your ability to understand written information and to evaluate arguments about this information. Typically, you are given a paragraph of text and asked “which of the following best describes the writer’s view on this topic?”
- Numerical Reasoning: Numerical tests are designed to assess your understanding of tables of statistical and numerical data, as well as your ability to make logical deductions. Basic math and logic with the odd curve ball thrown in. These are the test people typically fear the most!
- Spatial reasoning: tests are designed to assess your ability to visualise spatial objects. For example, being a sample shape and a number of different shapes and being asked which fits best with the sample shape. Less common in testing for finance roles but still used by some companies.
The aptitude tests get gradually harder as you go through – don’t fret if you can’t work one out. Give it 60 seconds or so and your best answer and move on. Also people don’t always finish testing, just do the best you can and go from there.
#3 Try to clear your head – go for a run or walk – and stay calm
The most important thing you should do is remain calm, as becoming flustered, or dwelling on questions will inhibit your available time to complete the test. Do what you normally do to lift the cloud of pressure and stress – go for a walk, a work out or a quick run to release some endorphins and clear your head.
And the basic stuff applies too! When doing the test go to a quiet room or space, turn off your mobile phone so there are no unnecessary distractions, and if you can do the test in the morning rather than after a long day where you’ll probably be tired.
Finally, take this basic rule with you: Psychometrics – think ‘go with gut instinct’; Aptitude tests think ‘keep pushing on’!