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Psychometric Testing – Tax Careers Advice

Psychometric testing is frequently used within the taxation profession from the civil service tests for the HM Revenue & Customs to the entrance tests for the Top 20 firms to partner assessment centres. It makes sense to prepare for such tests as it has been proven that practice can improve your score on some formats. This form of testing is a way of evaluating how candidates are likely to perform when dealing with tasks or reacting to a work situation. Nowadays they are often administered on a computer. Psychometric tests tend to fall into two main areas:

1. Ability or Aptitude Tests
– look specifically at the extent to which a candidate is able to carry out various aspects of a job. Typically they focus on areas like verbal reasoning, numerical ability, logical reasoning and spatial awareness. In the main in the tax profession aptitude tests focus on verbal reasoning, numerical ability and areas like organisational skills. They can range from graduate tests aimed at finding potential and a minimum level of literacy and numeracy, to such things as in-tray exercises which simulate a working environment.
2. Personality Tests – these aim to measure whether an individual’s personal attributes would suit a particular work environment. They can be used to assess aspects of an individual’s behaviour, attitudes or opinions, as well as their motivation, interests and values. Your results can then be compared to the characteristics considered essential for the job. Some firms also use them during an interview process to access what future training will be needed and they can form the basis of a future personal development plan.

Sample tests are readily available. A good starting point is to buy a book or DVD on testing from www.amazon.co.uk , Waterstones or WH Smiths. The Times do a series on them. At Georgiana Head Recruitment Ltd we are happy to lend our candidates versions to help them prior to interviews.

As well as trying some of the websites listed below, you should think about some basic preparation. As with any interview if you are to attend an employer’s offices to take a test you should dress appropriately in smart business dress. You should ensure you have plenty of time to get there so that you don’t arrive feeling flustered. As with any exam situation you should listen to the instructions that you are given and follow them exactly.

Before the test you may be given practice examples to try, it is ok to ask questions about anything that you are unsure of at this stage. Some of the Big 4 accountancy firms ask candidates to do the tests on-line at home, so ensure that you have a quiet environment, a reasonably quick internet connection and a reasonable chunk of time set aside. The key is to try and work through quickly but also accurately. Try not to get too bogged down in any one question and remember questions often get harder the further into the test that you go. Educated guesses can be worthwhile if you are running short of time. If the test is at an employer’s offices they will tell you whether you are allowed to use a calculator or not. Your recruitment consultant will find out the details prior to the test and give you as much background as possible. You will find that if you practice, you will feel more confident in the real test interview and that you will be able to see some of the patterns within the tests more quickly. Practice should take some of the pain out of the interview as much of a candidate’s disquiet before a meeting is the fear of the unknown.

The most commonly used tests are Saddle & Holdsworth (SHL) so it is advisable to look at the sample tests on www.shldirect.com . They have free examples of both aptitude and personality tests on the site. You can work through them on a timed basis and get feedback from the site.

For Personality style Tests you could look at:

* www.teamtechnology.co.uk/tt/common/contents.htm this has an example of one of the most commonly used Personality tests the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) so it can give you an indication of your personality type.
* http://www.advisorteam.com/temperament_sorter/register.asp?partid=1 this has a personality questionnaire that again assigns you a personality type. Be careful what you click on, only parts of this are free.
* www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/mind/surveys/personality/index.shtml An interesting and thought provoking test. Takes about 15 minutes and has a thorough description and follow up.
* www.peronalitytest.net has a series of free tests based around a 5 personality type model.
* www.testing-direct.com this is a way of assessing your personality, motivation and work interests. Try the free tester site.

For Aptitude tests you could try:

* The Civil service employer selection tests at www.faststream.gov.uk and www.gchq.gov.uk
* For the GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions tests (which test verbal, numerical and logical ability for those applying to business schools and MBAs) try www.gmattutor.com or www.getfeedback.net/products/psy/wgcta_ranra.html . This also has Watson Glaser Critical Thinking tests and RANRA Rust Alpha Numerical Reasoning Appraisal.
* For those going for positions at director and partner level it is well worth looking into the Watson Glaser tests as these are commonly used as part of partner assessment processes. It’s a demanding test aimed at complex decision making, strategic planning etc. So again look at www.getfeedback.net/aptitude.php
* For ways to improve you literacy and numeric skills and sample tests try www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise
* Finally www.ets.org gives a mix of practice questions for GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) and even the Test of English as a Foreign Language. Go to the practice section as the main section tests are not free.
As mentioned Georgiana Head Recruitment Ltd can provide candidates with practice materials and most firms will also suggest some practice source materials prior to any test.

Article courtesy of www.georgianaheadrecruitment.com

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