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5 Popular Pre-Employment Tests for Job Applicants

With dozens to hundreds of applicants vying for a potential job role, more employers are turning to pre-employment tests to screen candidates.

Usually, only fewer than ten people make it to an interview stage, and looking at CVs and cover letters alone can make it tough to pick out which job candidates to advance.

Although most people emphasize the importance of preparing for interviews, it’s also helpful to know about potential tests that recruiters might ask you to take before then.

Being prepared for these different types of tests can maximize your chances of landing the job:

1. Sample Job Task Tests

This is the most common type of pre-employment test, and it’s almost unavoidable if you’re applying for a creative role or a role that requires technical skills.

For example, developers might be given tasks that they have to write code for, or teachers might have to give a demo lecture.

Sample job task tests evaluate how well you can perform activities that will be a regular part of the position.

Some employers will even simulate your future working environment by giving you a real-time deadline, such as allotting you only a few hours to do the test.

However, if you have a strong portfolio, employers might skip this because they can already gauge your skills well.

2. Cognitive Ability Tests

Unlike sample job task tests, which are personalized for each role and company, cognitive ability tests are standardized and created by psychometricians and psychologists.

These assess your critical thinking, problem-solving and mental capacity, and questions are in a multiple-choice format.

There are many kinds of cognitive ability tests, but the ones you’ll most likely encounter are spatial reasoning tests,  numerical reasoning, and verbal reasoning tests, depending on the role that you’re applying for.

Some popular cognitive ability tests such as the Wonderlic Personnel and SHL tests have questions across diverse areas.

Although you can answer cognitive ability tests as is because they only need basic knowledge, they can be tough to finish within the time limit, so taking sample tests online can improve your performance massively.

3. Situational Judgment Tests

Situational judgment tests can be tricky because these present you with different work scenarios and you have to choose the best response to them.

These are favored by recruiters for leadership or managerial roles, where you will often have to deal with conflicting priorities or make snap judgments even with uncertain factors.

Compared to cognitive ability tests, which are more about theoretical knowledge, situational judgment tests check how job candidates react to complex, real-life situations.

Many questions in situational judgment tests are about time management, ethical decisions, or negotiating.

To get a good score in a situational judgment test, research the company that you’re applying to and try to grasp their values and company culture.

4. Personality Tests

Personality tests are another widespread pre-employment screening tool. Aside from hard skills and technical competencies, recruiters are also mindful of job candidates’ personalities and culture fit.

Someone with a high craving for new experiences can be frustrated with routine tasks. On the other hand, a person who’s on the opposite spectrum might not be happy with constantly improvising or facing unpredictable situations.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the DISC Behavioral Inventory, and the Caliper Profile are a few of the personality tests often administered to job candidates.

When you’re taking a personality test, remember that it’s how you behave at work that’s being asked, not how you behave in your personal life. Applying to job positions that are naturally a good fit for you will also make taking employment personality tests easier.

5. Language Proficiency Tests

Aside from translators and interpreters, applicants who aren’t native to a language that will be used for the job might have to pass language proficiency tests.

These can come up in roles that involve relocation or remote roles where applicants originate from different countries.

If you already have plenty of proof that you’re fluent in the language, such as several writing samples or official certifications, then recruiters might skip this.

Otherwise, recruiters can offer language proficiency tests in different forms. Some might have you take a quick quiz on a mobile language learning app such as Duolingo, while others can request job candidates for a video of them speaking or to take a printed test.

Alternatively, recruiters will simply assess your language proficiency in the interview itself.

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