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How to succeed at management interview tests

More industries are subjecting candidates to psychometric tests, completed online as a pre-assessment before the actual interview.

Whether you're an experienced manager or applying for your first managerial position, you can expect to face some stringent tests as part of the interview process. More industries are subjecting candidates to psychometric tests, completed online as a pre-assessment before the actual interview.

Rob Williams, chartered occupational psychologist and independent psychometric test developer, reveals the three types of tests you're most likely to encounter and how to perform at your best.

Personality questionnaires

These kind of tests have no right or wrong answer. Instead, they are designed to ascertain your management style and see if it fits with the job.

The best way to prepare is to thoroughly research the position (and similar roles in the company and across your industry) to get an idea of the personality traits they most value.

These kind of tests are often used to generate question prompts for recruiters to probe your weaker personality traits. 'Big discrepancies will probably be flagged within your personality profile, so prepare to be questioned further about these,' warns Rob.

So how can you do well on them? 'The best advice is to answer them as honestly as possible with the first response that comes to mind,' says Rob. 'It's fruitless to guess the "right" profile – trying to "fake" your personality fit is a sure sign that you are applying for the wrong job.'

What are employers looking for?

Broadly speaking, your answers should demonstrate your drive, ambition and assertiveness. Managerial pressures usually increase with authority, hence an even more resilient and calm approach is required for the senior roles. According to Rob, certain traits may be valued differently across managerial levels. For example:

  • Team leaders will be expected to assert and coach others in following best practice and adhering to company rules and procedures.
  • Middle managerial profiles require more advanced planning and organisational skills to effectively manage their increased resourcing responsibilities.
  • A Director's effectiveness is dependent upon their board-level interactions, so conflict/team management approaches, leading change and decision-making styles will be scrutinised in applicant personality profiles.

Other additional "fit"-type personality tests may be used, such as values tests or strengths tests. Similarly, key skills such as creative thinking, emotional intelligence, team-building skills and interpersonal skills can be measured with personality tests designed specifically for that purpose.

'Effective decision-making is so important that junior and middle-level managers will often be given a situational judgement test designed to test some of the managerial role's complexities,' adds Rob.

Situational judgment tests (SJTs)

These measure a manager's judgment and decision-making skills. Expect to be tested on competencies that are relevant to the job for which you're applying. Competencies are company- and sector-specific. For example, for a customer service role, key competencies will include: problem-solving, communication and teamwork.

'Think about what your potential employer's highest priority criteria would be for their business decisions,' advises Rob. 'These could be commercial awareness, customer focus or professional ethics.'

This is important since when you are presented with an SJT scenario you must "judge" the best response to the presented problem. Rob's advice is to identify which three or four factors are in play in the situation – the best response will address all these factors.

Rob has the following tips:

  • Answer as the most ethical and well-intentioned employee.
  • If two of the answer options are similar it's unlikely that either one is the best (or worst) answer.
  • A short-term fix to the SJT scenario would only be half-right; you need an answer option with a longer-term solution to the problem.

Aptitude tests

Managerial candidates may also be required to sit aptitude tests, including numerical, abstract and verbal reasoning.

'These are used to assess the full range of a manager's reasoning skills and tend to include more detailed and broader information to analyse – to reflect the increased complexity of managerial roles. Additional tests of critical thinking skills may also be used,' adds Rob.

Have a practise run

Like everything else, practise makes perfect. Make sure you're ready for the interview test by completing example tests used in your industry. Rob has included hundreds of practice tests and answer explanations at http://www.robwilliamsassessment.co.uk/ and in his latest two books (Passing Numerical Reasoning Tests and Passing Verbal Reasoning Tests) both available from Amazon.

Follow our management tips for success, and you'll be ready for whatever they throw at you!

Image Copyright: liravega, Shutterstock.com