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How can our candidate prepare for an assessment?

Assessment preparation

If you have your candidates assessed, you are often asked how they can best prepare. What is the information you can give them?

It is important to tell your candidate that the preparation consists of two elements: first of all, the content based preparation and secondly, mental preparation.

Content based preparation

Let’s start with content based preparation. Most assessments consist of the following parts;

  1. Capacity test
    These are timed tests. There are different types; verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning, analogies, spatial awareness, technical awareness, multitasking, creative thinking etc. There are capacity tests available for all types of intelligence. Their use depends on what is important for the future position. This type of test is always done under time pressure. It is useful for the candidates to practice coping with this time pressure, and practice the types of tests relevant for the position. There are plenty of ways to practice available on the Internet. Candidates can only partially improve their scores by practicing. It is mainly so they aren’t surprised by the time pressure, which could result in a lower performance than they are capable of.
  2. Personality questionnaires and other questionnaires
    These are questionnaires where the candidates are asked about their behavioural preferences or their personnel style, but also about what drives them. There are no correct or incorrect answers with this test. But they carry out an assessment to see if the general behaviour of the candidate is suitable for the position. These questionnaires don’t need to be done under time pressure. Most of the time there is a guideline for the amount of time. The reasoning behind this is that certain personality structures suit certain types of positions better. There is no need for candidates to prepare for this test, nor can they. It is not about performance. What you can tell them, is that they need to answer as truthfully as possible. These types of tests always look at how consistent the answers are. Candidates who give answers based on what they think best suites the position, often receive a very high or very low consistency score. There is a decent chance that the assessment psychologist will pick up on that.
  1. Interview with the psychologist
    The interview with the assessment psychologist will generally be based on the personality questionnaire and possibly the other questionnaires. The psychologist therefore does not only have access to the candidates cv, but also to more information. The psychologist will go more in-depth. The assessment psychologist’s task is to figure out the candidate and, based on this predict the candidate’s future performance. An assessment psychologist will always look at to what extent the candidate knows themselves. The best preparation for the candidate is for them to try and understand themselves. Advise the candidate to think openly and critically about themselves. Who are you, what made you who you are now, what are you looking for, which of your characteristics suit the position, and which don’t?
  2. Roleplay
    Roleplay is used to observe the behavioural skills relevant for the position. The idea is that the candidate shows that they have those skills. The candidate can therefore best prepare by analysing which behavioural skills are most important for the position. It also won’t do any harm to think about how the culture within the organisation will influence this. For example, a sales manager in a culture focussed on performance and turnover needs to be able to put pressure on those salespersons with a lower performance.

Mental preparation

A candidate needs to have the right mindset. The most important advice you can give is that they need to avoid stress as much as possible. Stress is a performance killer for capacity tests, but also for roleplays and interviews.
Emphasize that the candidate needs to take into account the possibility of being stuck in traffic, that they go to bed early, doesn’t have too much to eat, doesn’t drink 8 cups of coffee, etc.
Also advise them to mention any circumstances that could inhibit their performance to the psychologist beforehand. Examples are: burnout, dyslexia, pregnancy, divorce, being fired, etc.

The possibility that this is going to influence the results is significant. If this is only revealed later, the damage has already been done.
Finally, you can mention that the best approach for the candidate is to address the psychologist as an equal. They are trying to estimate how suitable the candidate is for the position. This is in the interest of the organisation and of the candidate.

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