Through the wringer: 6 ways employers will test you
The graduate job market is tough, we all know this. For graduates this is not great and can sometimes make finding your first job a tricky affair. But for employers this is also a heartache, forcing them to come up with creative ways of filtering the good from the really good. Graduates applying for some of the bigger schemes will have to go through the wringer to get anywhere close to getting a job, here are just a few examples of how employers will be looking to find the best of great bunch of graduates.
Less common during large intakes at big companies, but still used when employers have several fantastic graduates and are looking to find the absolute best. Employers will ask those in the running for the position to collate a five to ten minute presentation on a given subject. A relatively tricky way to go about finding the best candidate but nonetheless graduates will be required to exhibit their skills, knowledge and the confidence they have in themselves.
The key to acing these is to be an absolute expert in what you're talking about and if you're not you better put the research in. Creating a flashy powerpoint with all the slide animations is not recommended but if you can show you know your stuff and present with clear and confident bravado, you will certainly boost your chances.
2. In-tray Exercises
Alternatively called an e-tray exercise, this is a relatively new idea being used by the NHS and Civil Service, this is a challenge of your capabilities to handle a workload and handle work place scenarios. The Civil Service e-tray exercise for example, is described as a three part process that lasts around two to three hours. The process is described as applicants are sent information and they are required to respond to it and show their research, comprehension and prioritising skills.
You can try an e-tray exercise here.
3. Group discussions
This can sometimes go a bit tribal and catty. One of our fantastic bloggers, Sian Gardiner documented her experiences of group discussions at an assessment centre in a blog post for us. Group discussions require a selection of graduates all running for similar positions or sometimes the same position to show team working skills and their ability to reason. However, this can go off the rails when trying to finish off their rivals. Don't for one minute try and screw over your fellow interviewees. It's not big or clever and employers will spot it a mile off.
4. Psychometric Tests
A bit more common in modern application processes and an easy way to filter large amount of graduates relatively easy. These are numerical and verbal reasoning tests that will check your basic levels of maths, understanding and comprehension. They're usually relatively straightforward, but that doesn't mean they are difficult. There are plenty of places that use these tests and even more places online that you can practice with. Unfortunately there is no secret trick to help you through these, but it's just going to take some good old practice.
5. Written Statements
Sometimes requested quite early on in the application process, these are where employers will ask to pen a statement showing your desire, knowledge or understanding of a set question. It could be 400 words on what you think about a latest development in the industry or 300 on your thoughts on an contentious issue in the field. Either way, there are no pit falls, be informed, erudite and express yourself with flair.
6. Video Games
This method has only been used once to my knowledge, but KPMG launched their "Round the World in 80 Days" game which required prospective employees to complete a game testing their suitability for the position. This is starting to show new directions that employers are starting to take and the extreme circumstances that employers are jumping to in order to find out who is the best candidate for the position.
You can learn more about the 80 Days game here.
By James Howell