Exit Menu

Preparing for interviews

Learn how to show yourself in the best light in an interview and increase your chance at being selected.

Interviews are a usual part of the formal recruitment process and can vary enormously in length, style, and format. An invitation to interview means you have successfully matched your skills, interests, and experience to the employer’s criteria. Now you have the opportunity to sell yourself.

 Common types of interviews:


Face-to-face interviews

Face-to-face interviews allow employers to directly ask candidates a set of questions. The number of people interviewing you can also vary, from one, two, three or more people, known as a panelSome recruiters will host telephone or video interviews to screen candidates before inviting those shortlisted for a face-to-face interview, either individually or through an assessment centre. 

Face-to-face interviews are still used by most employers, however it is becoming more common for employers to use other types of interview.

So I’ve landed an interview. What now?

Before the day of your interview, whether it will be over the phone or in person, you must make sure you are well prepared.

  • Will the interview be at an office or assessment centre? How are you going to get there?
  • Is there a dress code? Do you own suitable clothing?
  • Have you researched the company? The history and recent news? Do you know why you want to work there?
  • Do you understand the job and how you match the key elements? Have you compiled evidence and prepared structured answers to these questions?
  • How long is the interview likely to last? Will it be in front of a panel or one-to-one?

As with most things, practising beforehand will familiarise you with the process of a formal interview, and give you a chance to improve before the real thing. You can book a mock interview with us in the PDC, and use our feedback to strengthen your technique.

What are they going to ask me?

As much as you need to be yourself in an interview, it is beneficial to prepare answers to questions you will likely be asked. Answering with structure and confidence will show you are well prepared and can articulate your thoughts eloquently. Try interviewing yourself with a friend or in the mirror, saying your answers out loud to spot when you’re not making sense, or how often you’re saying ‘Um…’.

Before the day, you should read over your CV and covering letter. The interviewer may tailor their questions around the information you provided in addition to the job requirements, so it is vital that you know what you’ve written and what the employer is looking for.  

There are a few different types of interview questions you could be asked. Take a look at Prospects' Interview Questions and TARGETJobs' Competence based interviews.

The STAR (Situation, Task, Actions, and Results) method is very useful to remember when faced with open-ended ‘give me an example of a time when…’ competency questions. These questions are designed to test your suitability for the role. You should draw examples from your education and experience that demonstrate you have the skills and abilities to meet the specifications of the job.

Strength based interviews, with roots in positive psychology, are becoming more and more popular with bigger organisations. In addition to typical interview questions, it is increasingly likely that you could be asked something like ‘When was the last time you were happy?’ and ‘What is needed to make you thrive?’. You must be prepared to answer these types of questions as well as the typical ‘What attracted you to this role?’.

What should I ask them?

Think of a few questions you can ask the interviewer at the end of your interview. Again, this shows good preparation, an interest in the organisation, and real enthusiasm for the role.

You could ask about the induction process, training opportunities, or the culture of the organisation. Ask questions about things you genuinely want to know, rather than what you think the employer wants to hear.

If you’re stuck, take a look at Big Interview's 12 Best Questions to ask at the end of an interview.

What if I have special requirements?

You should contact the employer if you have any special requirements on the day of your interview, such as needing a sign language interpreter for a hearing impairment.

If you haven’t already mentioned a disability, and you know this will come up in the interview, you may want to prepare the employer in advance to ensure you are both comfortable and the interviewer knows what to expect.

Try to anticipate the challenges your disability may present and think about how these can be overcome. You know your disability better than anyone and if you can explain it with positive and clear terms, you will come across as confident and in control.

I feel prepared, but what about on the day?

Get a good night’s rest before your interview, no matter if the actual interview is scheduled for later in the day. You will be more likely to perform well if your mind and body are relaxed.

Perhaps check the news. Something significant may have just happened to that organisation, such as the takeover of a rival business or even a name change. Being aware and ready to discuss these things with your interviewer will do wonders for your first impression.

Leave for your interview with plenty of time to spare. If it takes half an hour to get there on a normal day, leave an hour early on the day of your interview.

If, on the way, you think you are going to be late due to reasons out of your control, you should call the company and let them know. They will appreciate your honesty.

When you arrive at the venue, try and make a good first impression. Be courteous and friendly to everyone you meet. Remember, the interview starts as soon as you walk in the door.

How do I act during the interview itself?

You are going to feel nervous. This is normal.

Try channelling your nerves positively. Remind yourself of your strengths. Remember, the interviewer has a position to fill. They do not want to see you fail. A good interviewer will do their best to make you feel comfortable so you have the best chance of performing well.

Think about body language. Non-verbal behaviour plays a big part in an interview.

  •  Avoid limp or bone crushing handshakes. Aim for something in between.
  •  Don’t slouch. Stand with an open and positive posture. Sit up and lean forward a little.
  • Maintain good eye contact with the interviewer(s) – but don’t stare!

You are being judged on your overall performance at the interview, not on each question. If you feel you could have answered a question better, don’t panic, try to stay positive, and focus on answering the next one. Things will even out over the course of the interview.

  • Try not to talk too fast and make sure the interviewer can hear you clearly. A good interviewer will actually guide you through the experience by the type of questions they ask, and indicate to you whether your answers are too brief or too long.
  • You may want to bring examples of work that highlight your suitability for the role. Always check beforehand, as the interviewer may prefer sticking to the formal interview process.

There's every chance you may enjoy the experience! When else do we get to spend a significant amount of time talking about our interests and the things we are good at, so remain positive and enthusiastic throughout.

After my interview

Take time after your interview to reflect on your performance while the experience is still fresh in your mind. This will help you improve your technique for the next interview.

  • Try to think about what you did well, as well as what you could have done better.
  • Think about any difficult questions, or ones that you weren’t prepared for.
  • Contact the interviewer to thank them for their time, and ask for feedback if appropriate.
  • Relax. You’ve done the hard bit now.

 

Video interviews

Video interviewing is becoming more widespread and is now often used as a filtering process prior to face-to-face interviews.

The two main types of video interviews are live video (or Skype) interviews, where you are talking to a real person and the technical platform is used to have a live conversation. The second is the recorded interview, where you are provided with a question and then you are expected to record an answer using the technical platform provided, this is often a third party website like Sonru. 

The Professional Development Centre can help set up practice sessions for both of these types of interviews. You can book appointments with your dedicated Careers Consultant and also drop by for a 15 minute Quick Query session, which is bookable on the day. Your Careers Consultant can send you a link to a practice interview - just email careers@brunel.ac.uk if you would like this. You can then come and discuss the recording, highlighting areas that could increase your chances of being selected.

Why are video interviews so popular?

Both video interviews and recorded interviews save the recruiter a huge amount of time, as they can conduct many more interviews quickly and effectively and then shortlist candidates for face-to-face meetings. Both platforms allow the recruiter to judge your screen presence and how well you present yourself using technology. 

Preparation and technology

The questions in both Skype and recorded interviews can be very similar, so being well prepared is essential, but you should also make sure you are comfortable with the technology and the fact that you will be recorded.

Make sure the technology you are using is stable (e.g. no connectivity problems), and always have a spare device just in case. As with all interviews, putting in some practice beforehand will make you more comfortable!  

Live video (Skype) interviews

  • As always, first impressions count so look the part and act like you want the job!
  • Don't think that this is a casual exercise - as you are in your room and not face-to-face. Treat this as a formal part of the interview.
  • Clear the space behind you and make sure there are no distractions and you have a quiet environment, tell the people around you that you are in an interview and should not be interupted.
  • The safest rule if you have not been given a dress code is to dress like you would for a formal face-to-face interview.
  • There is a tendency for candidates to rush their video answers. This is not a Skype chat with your friends, so take it slow and make sure you are clear and concise. Well-paced answers will be easier for the recruiter to follow.
  • Make sure your Skype name is professional, just as an email address should be.

Recorded interviews

  • In a recorded interview you will probably be under some time constraints to read the question and then record an answer within an allotted time. For example you may have 60 seconds to read the question and then a period or around two-five minutes to record your answer.
  • There is no interaction in a recorded interview. It is up to you to energise and enthuse yourself. Once you have recorded an answer there is no way to go back and redo it.
  • Make sure there is nothing behind you that will distract the recruiter when they are looking at your recording.
  • It is a good idea to practise using a webcam or iPad, just to check that you have the microphone levels and the height of the camera in the right position. If you are using a laptop, raise the machine rather than tilting the screen to ensure you are centre frame and viewed straight on and not from below.

On occasion you may be asked to record a video talking about yourself instead of answering set questions.

  • Most companies offering this type of interview will give you notes, tips and suggestions prior to the actual interview. Read these carefully to help structure your video.
  • It is highly advisable that you prepare and practice for these interviews as you would any other interview and your Careers Consultant can discuss with you sample questions as well as introducing you to platforms such as Sonru where we can arrange practice video interviews for you. 

 

Telephone interviews

Interviewers will be looking to shortlist applicants who can show good verbal communication skills and an understanding of the job, company and sector. Many of the guidelines provided are the same as those for face-to-face interviews, but there are some tips specific to telephone interviews that will help get you through to the next stage. 

Remember, you are very close to being selected for the next stage, so investing in additional preparation for this call is worthwhile.

When will they call?

Very often you will be able to choose from a list of available time slots for your phone interview. Think carefully about when you choose to have your interview:

  • Make sure it doesn’t clash with anything else in your diary and that you’ll be somewhere quiet and without distraction.
  • Are you on your best form in the morning, in the afternoon or evening?
  • As well as evening time slots, weekend time slots may be on offer.
  • Try to be flexible with your timing as it will create a good first impression.

If you intend to use your mobile, make sure that it's either fully charged or you are close to a phone charger and socket, and that you have a signal.

Other companies may spring the interview on you, so keep a list of the companies you’ve applied to (and a copy of your application forms) handy so that you’re not caught out. If you do receive a call from a number you don’t recognise during this period of applying for jobs, answer the phone in a professional manner as first impressions count.

You can always rearrange or call the interviewer back if they do call unannounced, but don’t keep them waiting. Make sure you have a professional message set up on your voicemail in case you miss a call as this will be what they hear before they leave their own message. 

How do I make a good impression?

You don’t have the advantage of body language, eye contact, and non-verbal signals in a telephone interview, so you may have to work harder at getting your personality across.

  • Talk positively and enthusiastically and explain yourself clearly. Smiling while talking will impact how you sound. This is a technique often used by people who talk over the phone in recruitment and telesales jobs.
  • Don’t mumble and avoid expressions such as ‘ah… er... ummmm…’. Habits like that are more noticeable over the telephone.
  • Avoid pacing around the room or lying on your bed; this maybe where you take most of your calls but remember this is a formal business call. Sitting at a desk will help, but try not to have too many notes in front of you, as this may distract you.
  • You may even give some thought about what you choose to wear. Again the interviewer won’t be able to see what you’re wearing, but dressing smartly and comfortably could put you in the right frame of mind to perform at your best.

Be yourself but make sure you remain professional. Listen carefully to the questions asked, and seek clarification if you are not sure. The interviewer will guide you through the process so it’s important that you let them take control.

What will they ask me?

Because telephone interviews are usually at the start of the recruitment process, you’re likely to be faced with basic, standardised questions but don’t underestimate the importance of well-prepared answers.

Be ready for questions about:

  • why you have applied and what excites you about the job
  • the role and your strengths and weaknesses
  • why you’re interested in the company
  • what challenges or issues the company face, and how you feel you are equipped to contribute to solutions
  • who their competitors are, and in your opinion, why you feel the company is well positioned to compete with them

Have specific examples of your competencies ready – such as a time when you worked on a challenging project, provided good customer service, solved a complex problem, or worked as part of a team. The job description and application form may give you an idea of the competencies they are looking for.

You will have the advantage of being able to refer to a few key points written down and prepared beforehand but be careful your answers don’t sound scripted, or the rustle of paper distracts from what you are saying.

Just like a face-to-face interview, you might have a chance to ask some questions. If you haven’t already, take a look at What should I ask them? in the 'face-to-face interviews' section above.

Take a note of any important points:

  • what will happen next
  • when you are likely to hear from the company
  • who you have spoken to

Again, you should show your appreciation for the opportunity by thanking the interviewer.

Find out more

  • You may find it useful to talk to one of our Careers Consultants in our Quick Query service to help with your preparation  
  • Our reference books on interview skills are also useful. Come into the PDC and ask at our Front Desk

 

Presentations

Employers use presentations to check how well you prepare, how you communicate to an audience, your ability to think on your feet and, most importantly, how well you can maintain interest. If the job requires an element of public speaking then it is even more important that you succeed in this task.

You may be asked to prepare a presentation in advance or, as an added pressure, given a topic on the day. To build your public speaking skills, take any opportunity to give a presentation while at university. This could mean:

  • taking the lead in an assessed presentation as part of your course
  • talking to prospective students at open days
  • becoming a course representative, talking at meetings and feeding back to your peers
  • working as part of a society committee

Map out a 15 minute presentation to answer the question 'Why am I a good candidate for this job?' Practice it out loud, recording yourself so you can reflect on the quality and timing.

So what do I need to know?

A good presentation requires preparation and planning. You should know:

  • The brief – What you are expected to talk about
  • Who your audience is
  • Where you will be giving the presentation
  • What facilities you have available (presentation software, computer, internet access, flipchart)
  • How long you have to speak

Making my presentation

The following format will help you organise your presentation:

  • Use Microsoft PowerPoint, Prezi, Haiku Deck or any other suitable software
  • Outline what you propose to cover
  • Give the body of the presentation
  • Include any facts or statistics
  • Summarise and conclude
  • Invite questions from the audience

Practice is important

Practice will help you to get your timing right and make you sound more natural – remember that if you over-run you may be cut off mid-sentence. Aim not just to read the words but to use them to communicate and expand the information.

A good presentation will do four things:

  • inform
  • entertain
  • touch the emotions
  • inspire action

Look for ways your presentation can do all four.

Keeping my audience interested

  • Don’t turn your back on them.
  • Vary the pace and the tone of your voice.
  • Maintain eye contact with the whole group. One tip is to try and look at someone at the back of the audience and then shift your gaze to the front, middle and back again.
  • Use visuals to illustrate your points (PowerPoint, Prezi) but don’t rely on long and complicated slides.
  • Use clear, descriptive language and analogies to illustrate your points – but be brief and don’t get distracted.
  • A handout with miniature slides and room for notes can be a nice addition.
  • Avoid too many gestures and don’t fiddle with keys in your pocket, a pen or your jewellery.
  • Stand up tall, move around. Remember, how you say something is as important as what you have to say.

 Key points to remember

  • Identify the purpose of the presentation and your objectives
  • Plan your presentation thoroughly to time and re-emphasise at least three things you want the audience to remember you by
  • Use visual aids, such as pictures and table graphs
  • Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!

The more presentations you do the better you will become so take every opportunity to practice. Take advice and ask for feedback, adapting what you learn to suit your personal style. Be prepared to use different approaches in different circumstances, and have a back-up plan in case the equipment doesn’t work.

 

Assessment Centres are becoming a common selection tool for graduate employers. Learn how to stand out from the crowd.

The majority of larger organisations, and an increasing number of medium sized companies, use assessment centres as the final stage of graduate recruitment. They can last from half a day to a full day, and involve individual and group exercises to assess skills and competencies that are hard to judge from an interview alone. These include:

  • Interpersonal skills such as teamwork, leadership, social awareness, listening and public speaking
  • Problem-solving and analytical skills such as prioritising, decision making, planning, working under pressure and commercial awareness

Being invited to an assessment centre means the employer already knows that you have many of the qualities they require and you’ve got a good chance of receiving a job offer. You will be assessed on your own performance, you are not in competition with the other candidates there. Working together as a team is likely to benefit everyone.

On the day, focus on each task in turn. Most people do better in some tasks than others. Don’t dwell on any that don’t go well and move on to the next. Offers will be based on your all-round performance. If a task doesn’t go well (as long as it doesn’t reveal a weakness for a key competency in the job) an offer may still be made.

Preparation

  • Remind yourself of the employers selection criteria and prepare examples of how your skills meet them
  • Research the company and its business sector
  • Update yourself on current affairs
  • Prepare thoroughly for tasks which can be general or simulated to mimic business activities
  • If you have a disability you may want to notify the employer ahead of the assessment centre so you can arrange adjustments, such as additional time for any assessed exercises. Disclosure is purely your choice but may help you give the fullest account of your abilities on the day

Typical Assessment Centre Activities

Group activities 

Assessment centres generally include a variety of group activities to see how well you interact with others, the role you play in a team, and how you tackle specific tasks.

Group discussions

You may be given a business topic that is related to the job role, such as ‘What do you think our marketing strategy should be over the next five years?’, or a topical issue, such as the impact of increased tuition fees on higher education. Assessors will look for your ability to listen, include and assess other contributions, deal sensitively with others, contribute new ideas, and focus on key issues in the brief.

Group exercises

These include leaderless activities, chaired discussions, business games, leadership tasks and other work related scenarios. Examples include practical exercises such as building a Lego tower, case studies such as a new product launch, and role plays where individuals have a specific management role. Helpful behaviour includes:

  • Assessing the task and deciding on strategy and planning
  • Ensuring that all team members are making useful contributions
  • Making best use of expertise and resources
  • Presenting arguments, listening, negotiating and co-operating

Individual exercises

In-tray/e-tray exercise

These exercises assess your ability to work as efficiently and effectively as possible while processing information, analysing problems, making decisions, and taking action in a business context.

You will be presented with either a range of typical paperwork or an email inbox. These are likely to include: documents, reports, phone messages, memos, letters and/or emails. You will be expected to work your way through the information within a specified time frame (typically 30-60 minutes) and prioritise the order for action, explain what action is required, and how you plan to deal with it, e.g. delegate an action to someone else, return a call, arrange a meeting, deal with a complaint, and so on.

Make sure that you understand the instructions and then read through all of the documents quickly but carefully before prioritising. 

Online practice tests:

Interview

This could be a chronological interview, a case study interview, a strengths based interview, a competency based interview or a combination of all of these. Look through our 'Interviews' tab above for further details.

Presentation

You might be asked to prepare a presentation pre-interview, or given a problem to analyse and then present on at the interview. Either way, the interviewers will be looking at your ability to analyse, order information, and present confidently. Remember to structure your presentation with a concise introduction, main body of evidence (with a clear, structured argument) and conclusion. Look through our presentation section in the 'interviews' tab above.

You will find information on presentations at TARGETJobs.

Psychometric testing/Personality questionnaire

While you might have undergone psychometric testing prior to the assessment centre, some organisations ask you to complete additional testing on the day. Remember to practice the basics and look through our 'psychometric tests' tab for further information.

Individual case study exercises

These are commonly presented as hypothetical business problems that you will have to analyse and make recommendations on in a brief written or verbal report with an assessor. No previous experience of the business is needed and they will not be looking for management level skills. Instead, they are looking for the ability to assess large amounts of information, logical thinking, and identifying solutions. These exercises tend to be used in business consultancy, banking, financial services, accountancy and management consulting recruitment. Case study exercises can be used as a group or individual activity.

    • Case Interview Free videos, handouts, and list of frameworks providing step-by-step instructions on how to tackle cases (registration required)
    • Inside Careers Applications and interviews: case study tips
    • Wikijob Includes some case study interview questions
    • Bain & Company (Management consultancy) The interview preparation section includes three online practice interactive cases
    • Case in Point: Complete Case Interview Preparation Marc P Cosentino, 8th Edition, 2013, Burgee Press, in the PDC. (The book aims to  demystify the consulting case interview, exploring the various types of case questions, and includes 40 strategy cases and ten case starts exercises)

Social event

Some assessment centres will involve an overnight stay, or incorporate breaks between activities for you to meet staff - from recent graduate entrants to senior managers. Networking will help you understand the culture of the organisation, and how you would fit in there. It's an ideal opportunity to find out what it's really like to work for this organisation. You may not be formally assessed but recruiters are bound to be interested in how you use the networking opportunity, and whether you demonstrate real motivation for the job and organisation. It seems obvious, but don’t over-indulge if alcohol is offered.

Find out more


  • Assessment Day has expert advice written by assessment centre designers and graduate employers on what to expect and how to perform well in each exercise. It also contains a free practice in-tray exercise, situational judgement tests and psychometric tests
  • AssessmentCentreHQ gives information to help you prepare for assessment centre activities
  • Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) Guide to Assessment Centres. This guide has been supplied by CIMA but the information can be applied to other disciplines
  • PSA Peugeot Citroen Assessment Centre Survival Guide. (Note that this information is older and may not represent the activities you may encounter at a current Peugeot Citreon assessment centre.)

 

 

Psychometric tests help employers shortlist star candidates by ensuring the best candidate fits the role available. 

psychometric testing

Most large and many medium sized companies recruiting graduates want to find out as much information as possible about a candidate’s suitability to their organisation, its culture, and the jobs on offer. They use psychometric tests as an initial assessment.

Types of tests and practice links

Aptitude tests

Aptitude tests test a specific skill or ability, such as numeracy or literacy. The tests will be timed and will usually involve multiple choice or true/false questionsYou need to be both quick and accurate. 

Numerical and verbal reasoning tests are among the most widely used for business and management functions.

Numerical reasoning

  • Brunel Graduates First Free to Brunel students and graduates. Register to access over 20 numerical, verbal and logical tests developed by expert psychometric consultants.Use monitoring charts to track your progress and receive comprehensive feedback and performance breakdowns
  • Numeracy Game sponsored by J.P. Morgan Timed numeracy tests for graduate job applicants with charts, graphs and data interpretation questions from the Top Employers website
  • Pearson TalentLens Trial practice numerical reasoning tests (with free feedback) consisting of 36 questions to complete in around 45 minutes
  • NumericalReasoningTest.org 18 questions in 24 minutes
  • Assessment Day Numerical practice test, and includes a discussion forum
  • Criterion Partnership Practice numerical test questions (Choose 'Advice for applicants')
  • Cubiks Online assessment information and numerical practice tests
  • JobTestPrep Numerical tests in PDF format (with answers)
  • Kogan Page Team Focus Numerical tests with feedback
  • Practice Aptitude Tests Numerical tests with the option to check your answers. Brief video tutorials cover percentage increase and decrease, ratios, speed distance and time calculations, and currency conversion
  • Saville Consulting Preparation guides and advice with practice examples with answers
  • Test Partnership Numerical reasoning test - Click on 'Candidate Preparation' to access 15 timed questions 

Verbal reasoning

  • Brunel Graduates First Free to Brunel students and graduates. Register to access over 20 numerical, verbal and logical tests developed by expert psychometric consultants.Use monitoring charts to track your progress and receive comprehensive feedback and performance breakdowns
  • VerbalReasoningTest.org Three timed practice verbal reasoning tests: 18 questions in 18 minutes
  • Assessment Day Verbal reasoning, and includes a discussion forum
  • Criterion Partnership Practice verbal test questions
  • Cubiks Online assessment information with verbal reasoning practice tests
  • JobTestPrep Test practice verbal reasoning tests, in PDF format (with answers)
  • Kogan Page Team Focus Verbal reasoning tests with feedback
  • Practice Aptitude Tests  Verbal reasoning tests with the option to check your answers. 
  • Saville Consulting Preparation guides and advice that include practice examples with answers
  • SHL Direct Gives practice tests in different languages, including Verbal Reasoning

Logical reasoning

Logical resoning tests evaluate your problem solving ability. There is a lot of overlap here and different employers might employ the following terms interchangeably.

Abstract reasoning/inductive/diagrammatic reasoning

These tests assess your ability to identify patterns based on a sequence of shapes, illustrations or words, and predict the next steps in the sequence. You have to extract rules and structures based on your own reasoning rather than any existing knowledge you might have. Diagrammatic reasoning uses a flowchart of diagrams and symbols to assess logical reasoning ability mainly for the IT, science, engineering and computing sectors. Spatial reasoning tests assess your ability to manipulate 2D and 3D shapes and to recognise relationships between them.

  • Brunel Graduates First Free to Brunel students and graduates. Register to access over 20 numerical, verbal and logical tests developed by expert psychometric consultants.Use monitoring charts to track your progress and receive comprehensive feedback and performance breakdowns
  • P&G Practice reasoning test
  • Pearson TalentLens Trial practice critical reasoning tests (with free feedback)
  • Assessment Day Practice inductive reasoning test, and includes a discussion forum
  • Cubiks Online diagrammatic reasoning practice tests
  • Kogan Page Team Focus Abstract reasoning tests with feedback
  • P&G Practice reasoning test
  • Practice Aptitude Tests Diagrammatic reasoning tests with the option to check your answers
  • Saville Consulting Preparation guides and advice that include practice examples of abstract and diagrammatic reasoning tests with answers
  • Test Partnership Inductive reasoning test - Click on 'Candidate Preparation' to access 18 timed questions
  • WikiJob Offer diagrammatic reasoning practice tests. You will need to register to take the tests
  • InductiveReasoningTest.org Three tests: 20 questions in 10 minutes
Deductive reasoning

These tests assess your ability to reach logical conclusions based on a set of certain statements/rules. Often used in the business, management or marketing sectors. A simple example is as follows: 

  1. All men are mortal.
  2. Socrates is a man.
  3. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking tests are predominantly used in the legal sector, but also by employers such as the Bank of England. They assess your ability to reason and respond when analysing arguments or evaluating conclusions.

  • AssessmentDay Gives an overview of the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking test, test advice, and a practice test with solutions
  • Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking test Measures critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills; the Job Test Prep website gives sample questions and practice resources
  • Linklaters (Law) Fifteen sample questions with scores
  • ACT CAAP Test (US) website includes sample questions 
  • Pearson TalentLens Trial practice test (with free feedback) assessing critical thinking consisting of 84 questions to complete in 95 minutes
  • Pearson Vue  Practice Test Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (downloadable PDF) - UK edition (2002)
  • Test Partnership Critical Thinking Test - Click on 'Candidate Preparation' to access 20 timed questions
  • The Critical Thinking Community Gives information, research and studies about critical thinking and may be a useful additional reference; it includes a section for university students on the 'Begin Here' menu
  • WikiJob Overview of critical thinking tests with a linked practice test - 10 questions (JobTestPrep)

 

Personality questionnaires

Personality tests assess your preferred style of behaving by asking you to select from a list of statements, the one which best describes you. There is no need to practise, honesty is the best policy. Guessing the ‘right’ answers is risky as most have in-built mechanisms to identify inconsistent answers. In any case, who wants a job where they have to totally transform their personality? You can also try these questionnaires for yourself to increase your self-awareness and identify work activities that will suit your personality. They are not usually timed.

  • Brunel Graduates First Register free as a Brunel student or graduate. The Work Personality Questionaire will help you discover what personality traits your employer will see
  • 9types Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI) sample test requires you to answer 38 questions which are then scored. Find out whether you are a helper or an enthusiast
  • BBC Full personality test based on the five-factor model, a system of classifying personality traits [Archived page]
  • Humanmetrics Jung Typology Based on Carl Jung and Isabel Myers-Briggs typological approach to personality
  • Keirsey Provides links to more general information about type-based personality theory including the Keirsey Temperament Sorter: A test providing a limited amount of free information about your personality type (you will have to pay for a full report)
  • Morrisby An insight into the Morrisby personality profile test and includes sample questions
  • Myers Briggs Type Indicator Describes each of the Myers Briggs preferences which can be used to help sort people into types. Links to Team Technology site where you can take a practice MMDI™ test

Situational judgement tests

Situational judgement tests (SJTs)

These tests present you with realistic hypothetical work scenarios which you need to assess and then provide an appropriate response to. AssessmentDay gives an example practice test (with a review of each possible response at the end of each question). The site explains what SJTs are, how they work and what to expect in a test.

  • Brunel Graduates First Free to Brunel students and graduates. Register to access situational judgement practice tests and to get a personalised report
  • European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) Sample SJT test
  • JobTestPrep Two practice tests
  • Mark Parkinson Lists other sites with practice tests
  • Norton Assessment Trial tests, each with four questions, and the opportunity to trial a real SJT. The site gives advice and information to help you when preparing and taking a test
  • Practice Aptitude Tests Trial test - eight questions in 24 minutes with the option to take the test in practice mode and review the answers
  • Psychometric Tests (Open Psychometric Test Resource) Practice test and information about the SJT
  • SHL Test in the style of an online interview and one example question
  • SituationalJudgementTest Three scored practice tests: two timed and one 30 minute untimed. Information on the SJT and advice 
  • Test Partnership Click on 'Candidate Preparation' to access an untimed test (taking around 25 minutes to complete)
  • WikiJob Information on the SJT with three example questions and answers, and an indication of some of the companies who have used the test
Situational strengths tests (SSTs)

SSTs are designed to assess the core strengths that are needed to work in a placement or graduate role with a particular recruiter.

  • Capp Sample assessment (although targeted at recruiters)
  • Job Test Prep Information about the test and how to prepare
  • Nestlé Test demo
  • TfL Basic information about the purpose of the test and how to approach it

Games based psychometric assessments (GBPA)

This relatively new way of assessing candidates uses a games based format - usually accessed via your mobile device. GBPAs test either personality traits (such as how quickly a candidate finishes an assessment/whether they give up when a task is too difficult/how often they take risks) or aptitudes (such as verbal or numerical reasoning). 

There is no requirement for previous experience of gaming. The assessments generally last around 25-30 minutes and will be looking at your instinctive reactions to the scenarios presented. This type of assessment is being used increasingly in sectors such as law, IT, finance, technology, retail and transport.

  • Brunel Graduates First Brunel students and graduates can register for free to access over 20 numerical, verbal and logical tests which now include gamified assessments
  • TARGETjobs The graduate job hunter's guide to gamification will let you know what to expect from these kind of assessments

Specialist tests

Advertising

  • Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) Diagonal Thinking Self-assessment tests the hypothesis that the most successful individuals working in the advertising and communication industries are both Linear and Lateral Thinkers – they think ‘diagonally’
  • IPA AdMISSION AdSchool for penultimate year students gives you the opportunity to gain work experience in London agencies. AdAcademy: Spend eight weeks in a UK agency if you're a final year student or graduate

Computing

  • IT knowledge tests Developed by Brainbench (an SHL company) assess proficiency for a variety of software solutions, programming languages and general IT skills
Information Processing Aptitude Test On-line (IPATO)

This test was developed by IBM to test logical reasoning and the ability to process information quickly. Just a word of caution: Be aware that the format of tests changes all the time!

 

Academic and admissions testing

When you are applying for some postgraduate courses, e.g. medicine, dentistry, and business, you may be required to take an admissions test in addition to your standard academic qualifications. See below for examples. You should check the websites of any institutions to which you are applying to find out which test is required.

Business schools

GRE Revised General Test used for postgraduate study in the USA

GRE London Test Centre (Test centre number: 8021/8101) is located at: Prometric, 2nd Floor, Pellipar House, 9 Cloak Lane, London, EC4R 2RU; Tel: 0207 248 7311.

  • Educational Testing Service (ETS) Full information about the GRE: search for a test centre and book a test, how to prepare, about the test.
  • Fulbright Commission US Educational Advisory Service Standardised test information for postgraduate study in the US. You will need to take these tests 10-12 months before you start your course to ensure that your scores reach the universities before their application deadlines.
  • InternationalStudent.com Test Prep Center giving information about the GRE and other academic admissions tests.
  • Kaplan Overview and structure of the GRE, practice test, preparatory information and courses run by Kaplan.
  • PowerScore Gives a comparison of the GRE versus the GMAT.

Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) used for postgraduate study in the USA and international business schools

  • Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) GMAT basics.
  • GMAT Tutor 'Maths basics, FAQ, Tips & Tricks' and more.
  • Kaplan GMAT preparation for MBA applicants and free practice tests.
  • Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) Official site where you can register to take the GMAT test - explains the format and content of the test, with tips on preparation, what to expect on the day of the test, etc. GMATPrep® test-preparation software is available free to registered users of mba.com to help you prepare for the Computer-Adaptive GMAT® exam.
Find out more

These titles are held in the PDC Reference Library:

  • The Official Guide for GMAT Review 2015, 2014 edition, John Wiley & Sons Inc.
  • How to pass the GMAT, Mike Bryon, 2007 edition, Kogan Page. It contains practice questions with answers and explanations; some full-length timed tests; and mini-tests that can be used for quick practice.

Law

Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT)

You will need to pass the BCAT which will test your critical thinking and reasoning before an offer of a place on the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) to train as a barrister can be confirmed. You will not be allowed to enrol on a course until you have passed the Test. 

Medicine and Dentistry

You can check which test is being used by a particular medical school on the UCAS website but you should look at the websites of any institutions to which you are applying to find out which test is required. 

You can find out more about these tests including practice test links on the NHS Health Careers website. 

For general queries look at New Media Medicine - a discussion and networking forum for applicants and medical students to help them prepare for entrance exams such as UKCAT and GAMSAT.

BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT)

The BMAT is taken by applicants to some Medicine (primarily undergraduate) and Dentistry courses at specific universities.

  • Passing the UKCAT & BMAT, Rosalie Hutton, Glen Hutton and Felicity Taylor, 8th (2013) edition, Sage Publications Ltd, is held in the PDC Reference Library. It contains advice, guidance and questions for revision and practice.
Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT)

GAMSAT assesses students participation into graduate-entry programmes.

  • Register and find more information on the GAMSAT UK website. Remember to check the registration timeline as there is only a short registration period.
  • GRADMED Administer preparatory courses for those taking GAMSAT. The site includes information on GAMSAT in the UK, practice test, useful links, FAQ and a student diary/blog.
UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT)

This is used in the selection process by a consortium of UK Medical and Dental schools.

  • Registration for UKCAT generally opens in early May and closes in September with the last test date in October. You can find out more information on their website.
  • UKCAT also provide some timed practice questions.
  • Passing the UKCAT & BMAT, Rosalie Hutton, Glen Hutton and Felicity Taylor, 8th (2013) edition, Sage Publications Ltd, is held in the PDC Reference Library. It contains advice, guidance and questions for revision and practice.

Teaching - Professional skills tests

If you are applying for teacher training you will need to take and pass numeracy and literacy skills tests as part of the application process. You will need to provide proof that you have applied for a training course when you take the tests. The tests are held at a Pearson Professional Test Centre.

Find out about access arrangements, e.g. if you are eligible for extra time in exams you may be able to apply in advance for extra time when you take the skills tests.

Find out more

The PDC Reference Library holds two titles to help you to prepare for taking the skills tests

  • Passing the Literacy Skills Test (Achieving QTS Series), Jim Johnson and Bruce Bond, Learning Matters (2012), Third Edition. 
  • Passing the Numeracy Skills Test (Achieving QTS Series), Mark Patmore, Learning Matters Ltd (2013), 5th Revised edition.

 

How to prepare

Understand
  • Read the JobTestPrep PDF Guide to Psychometric Testing which aims to give the know-how to successfully prepare for tests.  It covers a number of topics: from 'what is psychometric testing', to explaining how best to prepare for the tests as well as examining different types of psychometric tests and the differences between them. 
Practice
  • Most employers send sample questions in advance. Start preparing as soon as you get them. Work through the examples and think about what the test requires you to do. Then plan your tactics for improving your speed and accuracy. Technique is just as important here as it is in exams.
  • If you are not sent examples, ask for them and look online for information from similar employers. Most accountancy practices, for example, will be interested in your numerical ability.
  • Identify any skills that are rusty. If you haven’t touched Maths since GCSE, practise basic skills such as percentages, ratios and using a calculator. If your degree is numerical rather than word-based, try reading and extracting key information from text at speed. These skills need to be rapid and automatic when you do timed tests.
  • Familiarity with tests can help you make effective use of your time. Try to identify sensible shortcuts to getting the greatest number of correct answers in the time, e.g. in verbal reasoning tests, read the questions before you read the text. This way you know exactly which information you are looking for and will not waste time with an initial unfocused read through.
  • Practice working against the clock. Tests are quite intensive and different from normal work or study. For example, you could have 40 questions to answer in 20 minutes and need to get the right balance between speed and accuracy.
  • Try out some online timed and non-timed tests.
Review
  • If you don’t do as well as you had hoped in tests, think whether you can change any of the factors that influenced your results. Look again at the preparation and practice sections and talk to a Careers Consultant for additional help. It’s not unknown for students to have that ‘eureka’ moment when they suddenly see a better way of approaching tests.
  • If you think you are doing everything right but haven’t improved as much as you’d like, remember that tests measure only very specific abilities. Employers will also be interested in your motivation for the job and in other skills and experience. These may be assessed through quite different parts of the selection process.
  • If you really feel that tests are never going to be your strong point, try applying to employers who don’t use tests at all or who use them only at second interview stage. The later tests appear in the selection process, the less likely your results are to be a ‘make or break’ factor in the recruitment decision. Smaller companies are also less likely to use psychometric tests though they may have their own work example assessment to ensure you can do what is required.
Improve
Help with numeracy and verbal reasoning

Worried because you haven't studied Maths since you were at school? Find English comprehension tricky? Feel you would like some help to brush up on your skills in preparation for taking psychometric tests? These links will help you to build your skills:

The night before
  • Your physical and mental state can affect your performance. Get a good night’s sleep before the test and avoid alcohol or anything else that will prevent you from doing your best. If you are unwell on the day, try to rearrange the session. Plan your journey and give yourself time so you aren’t flustered by transport delays.
Who at Brunel can help you?
Academic Skills (ASK)
  • ASK Based in the Library (Bannerman Centre). They offer workshops, individual advice and resources on a range of skills related to your learning including maths/numeracy and written skills.
Brunel Language Centre
  • Brunel Language Centre can help international students to improve writing or speaking skills, and run in-sessional English courses and one-to-one academic consultations for current students.

Disability advice

When you get your test date (or an assessment centre date) from the employer, we recommend that you contact them in advance to discuss any factors that are likely to affect your performance such as a disability. They can then arrange to make reasonable adjustments, such as:  

  • allowing extra time
  • providing a personal reader/writer or signer
  • providing special equipment such as a hearing loop
Your Careers Consultant or Placement Adviser will help if you are uncertain about how or when to reveal a disability

Alerting the employer at an early stage will give them time to make the necessary arrangements; telling them on the day may not. Be prepared to make suggestions about possible suitable adjustments. While you are aware of how your disability affects you, others may not. As a result you may be the best person to advise.

 

Get to grips with the final stages of the recruitment process

Make an appointment