SATURDAY 28th May 2016 is the final day in the summer examination period for this semester, and therefore I can guarantee completion of all my degree related work by then. At the time of writing that is only 139 days away.
The relevance here is that 139 days doesn’t sound like very much after two and a half years at University, and my thoughts are starting to turn towards what comes next. So far it has been easy, as I always planned on going to university. School, school, school, the excitement of choosing which Sixth Form College to attend and then the grand adventure of higher education. But now nothing is certain, and as I feel quite done with education it is time to start thinking about employment.
Many graduate schemes these days dispense with the traditional CV and cover letter. Instead it is the online application form, so companies can drag out exactly what information they want from you. Fine, I do not mind filling in forms. It’s the second stage that is becoming a chore – the online aptitude tests. From my experience there is at least three – situational judgement, numerical reasoning and verbal reasoning. Situational judgement results in you second guessing yourself, ‘does picking this answer portray me as a team worker or just gossipy?’ Probably a sensible test though, after all I question the judgement of my fellow students frequently. Ahem, moving on.
Verbal reasoning will usually ask you to state whether a statement is true, false or can’t say based upon a short text. I usually find this one okay, although I do worry about how often I put ‘can’t say’. Numerical reasoning tests how much of your GCSE maths you can remember (the answer: probably not very much.) Still, if you are an expert at ratios, percentages and graphs you will likely be fine.
So what is my main gripe with this process? The repetitive nature of practising, I suspect. There are many free tests available online for practice, and it makes sense to do them to give oneself the best chance of getting through the automated computer stage. Still, there are so many times I can practice what are relatively straightforward percentage questions before I decide enough is enough and take the test.
There are paid resources as well online, I found one that for £25 gave 12 months’ access to several hundred practice questions covering numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, situational judgement, and others – not to mention throwing in a nice guide to assessments centre. Such resources may be worth a shot if you expect to do many online aptitude tests.
Okay, I get why employers like these tests as a way of filtering out candidates, particularly with so many university graduates looking for jobs. But I think I rather do an interview the traditional way. At least I get to talk to a person.