How to Brush Up on Hard Skills Before a Test Assessment Interview

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An interview assessment is a pre-interview test that helps companies narrow down their talent pool. These tests are designed to evaluate and measure your capabilities and assess your culture fit. Some are specific to the role, while others judge your personality or behaviors.

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Why do employers conduct test assessments? 

Traditional interview methods offer limited insight into a candidate’s potential, future success, or job satisfaction. Unconscious biases may also affect an interviewer’s hiring decisions.

What are the benefits of test assessments?

Test assessments attempt to level the playing field by taking test scores into account. Your potential employer will use these scores to compare high-performing, experienced, and qualified candidates to determine the best person for the role, thus streamlining the hiring process.

Aptitude tests, personality tests, skill tests, job simulation tests, written tests, and group activity tests can reliably lower turnover rates, reduce wrong hiring risks, and identify like-minded talent.

Are test assessments always fair?

Some candidates don’t feel comfortable taking personality tests due to their lack of scientific backing. Other candidates may not want to perform longer tests for free. Both concerns are valid, and it’s your choice to decline a job interview or ask to be compensated for your time.

How to prepare for a test assessment interview

Before you can brush up on your hard skills, you need to know how interviewers normally conduct these tests. This will help you create a study plan that best matches your assessment.

Learn the process beforehand

There’s no hard and fast rule for how to conduct test assessments, so your employer may take a formal or casual approach, and they may or may not be transparent with what they expect.

Ask the hiring manager to clarify the process for you before you sit in on the test. If they seem protective of specific information, they aren’t comfortable telling you. Online tests are easier to crack, as you can see all the questions in the test if you use a different browser, log-in, or IP.

Remember to look at the job description for clues. If your job requires expert knowledge of Python, you can guarantee that your test assessment will check if you know Python.

If you’re left completely in the dark, consider hiring a coach like the ones at tryexponent.com. An interview coach can give you more information on how to pass your test assessments.

Get to know the test type

Employers should tell you what type of test you’re going to take, even if they won’t tell you what’s on it. You need to understand how you’ll be tested, so you can focus on the right skills.

  • Aptitude tests evaluate logic, verbal, numerical, abstract, inductive, diagrammatic, and critical reasoning skills. These tests are often multiple choice with one correct answer.
  • Personality tests assess your leadership, teamwork, interpersonal, and communication skills, among other things. These tests are multiple choice and have no wrong answers.
  • Specific skills tests assess your skills in a specific role. These tests can be in any format and are often given for technical roles, like software engineering or IT.
  • Job simulation tests check how you’ll perform in your actual work setting. These tests include role-playing, presentations, online assignments, or in-person assessments. 
  • Written tests may be used to assess role or industry knowledge. If the role involves a lot of writing, the employer will be checking for spelling, grammar, flow, and storytelling.
  • Group activity tests assess your ability to work with a team. These tests include case studies, discussion, and role-play but may include an after-assessment written test.

Some test types require more preparation than others. For example, personality tests and group activity tests rely on soft skills, which are important but not the focus of this article. On the other hand, aptitude, specific skills, and job simulation tests are always checking for hard skills.

How to improve hard skills before the interview

Now that you know what hard skills you need to practice, you can start improving them before the interview. If you follow these tips, you’ll be ready for your hard skill-based assessment.

1. Keep using your skills in between jobs

Although this tip won’t help you if you’re out of practice now, it will make your next assessment easier if you’re not prepared for this one. If you keep your skills active and practice consistently, you won’t have to scramble at the last minute. Plus, you can learn new ways to use your skills.

2. Create a schedule that tackles all topics

Refer back to the job description or the hiring manager’s advice when making a study schedule, but don’t forget to consider the test type. Then, highlight all of the topics and skills you’ll need to use for the assessment. Spend an hour a day refamiliarizing yourself with your role and industry.

3. Focus on your weaknesses first

Depending on the nature of the test, you won’t have to start from scratch or brush up on all of your skills. However, if you’re especially weak in one subject, task, or role, place your focus there. You can spend more time with your strengths as you move closer to the test date.

4. Find practice tests for your test type

Practice tests assess how well you know the content, alleviate test anxiety, and increase mental stamina. You can find plenty of practice tests online or blog posts describing how you’ll be evaluated. Ask your hiring manager if they can provide an evaluation rubric for your records.

5. Work your muscle memory

Improving your muscle memory will also improve your hard skills, as they’ll become second nature. For example, a typist works their muscle memory by taking their eyes away from the keys and typing frequently. Practice makes perfect for both your physical and mental hard skills.

6. Use a video tutorial or take a course

Maybe you’re so out of practice that you need an instructor to jog your memory. A quick video tutorial or course can get you back in the groove or improve on what you already know. If you can’t find a video on YouTube, consider using a website that specializes in your subject.

7. Have a cheat sheet handy

A cheat sheet can maximize what you get out of your study practice. Include information on interview techniques, best practices, and your skills, such as algorithms for a coding test. Be sure to refer to this cheat sheet while you’re studying, as it’ll help you internalize everything.

In conclusion

Test assessments are used to find quality candidates, but you can’t do well on these tests if you don’t know what you’re in for. Once you know the subjects your test will cover, you can start brushing up on your hard skills. If you study hard, you’ll have a good chance of getting the job.

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