I’m not crazy! My boss had me tested | Part 2
Let’s set the scene again: The phone rings. I answer. My friend is on the other end of the line. He is kind of freaking out.
"Hey! Do you have a minute?"
"Hey! Sure. What's up?"
"Listen... I need your advice... It's about this new job I'm trying to get. I want it really bad, and I thought I did well at the interview! But they just called and told me they're sending me an email with these tests and they want me to fill them out! What are they?! What should I do?!"
Hunting for a new job, being really good at your current one, or being in a company undergoing restructuring are typical situations when you can encounter "the tests." They are often seen as sort of a magic black box. You put your answers in. Mysterious things happen. You get your verdict. You are fine... or screwed.
What are these tools that can wake up the butterflies in your stomach and change the course of your career?
Ability & knowledge tests
In outline, there are two groups of tools being used in assessment settings. In the first group, there are ability and knowledge tests. The simplest way how you can distinguish them from the other group is that there are right and wrong answers.
Ability test are designed to establish the level of your cognitive abilities. Usually, they focus on your ability to concentrate attention and thinking agility. There are attention tests that are designed to measure how long you can focus your attention. They often come in a form of correction tests. You have to identify specific pictures or characters as fastest you can. There are tests focused on your mental abilities. You’ll be asked to solve some logic tasks, extract specific information from graphs and tables, do a bit of basic counting, understand a complex text… It might remind you of the university tests often called “prerequisites for studying.”
Knowledge test are pretty straightforward. They are designed to find out how thorough your knowledge on certain topic is. What decides about your success is really just if you know the stuff or not.
How to prepare yourself for these? In this case, you can learn and train. If you familiarize yourself with the principles of the problems used in these tests, you can improve your performance. Up to a point, of course. There are great mobile apps you can use to train your brain for tasks like these. My personal favorite is Elevate, but there’s more. Lumosity would be the most famous one. When it comes to knowledge tests, there’s just one remedy. You have to learn. Also, getting a good night sleep before you go for the tests is always helpful.
Personality & motivation questionnaires
To the second group of psychometric tools belong personality questionnaires. They are probably the most common psychometric tools used in recruitment and development programs in organizations. Their purpose is to provide a better notion about a person’s personality structure, respectively about her natural tendencies and preferences. That’s what you’re asked about when filling out these questionnaires – your likes, dislikes, your typical behavior, your motivation. When assessed independently, there are no right or wrong answers. Just answers. The search isn’t for the best one score-wise, but for the most compatible with the job role, team, company culture, etc.
Since it’s you referring about you, these questionnaires have a form of self-report. This means that the outcome of the assessment depends significantly on how well you know yourself. The possibility to influence the result of the assessment is also a big talking point. I’ll dedicate the whole next part of this series to it.
How to prepare yourself for these? Well… If you haven’t done it already, it would be a good opportunity to do a little self-exploration. Think about who are you as a person. What are your preferences? What’s your usual behavior? Who are the people you like to have around? How do you tend to think about the world? How do you usually express your feelings? What kind of work environment you prefer? What are your values? These aren’t easy questions, and if you think about them deeply, the answers might not be as clear and easy as you would think. However, it’s crucial to have them. That’s why answering a personality questionnaire can be an intense self-development experience and I would encourage you to welcome it and use it to your benefit. If not as an immediate professional benefit, then as a personal one.