Have you applied for a job and been asked to take an employment test? This brief article will help you prepare for your test or tests. There are four main types of pre-employment tests — aptitude, personality, skills, and job knowledge. Here are five tips for how to approach employment tests.

  1. Prepare.

    Sharpen your skills with JobFlare, a free iOS app created by Criteria that tests many of the same abilities that cognitive aptitude tests measure: math skills, verbal ability, attention to detail, and memory. As a user of the app, you’ll also receive emails with job postings based on your profile.
  2. Relax.
    If a company or organization uses pre-employment testing, it is usually only one of a number of factors used to determine your suitability for the job. In addition to tests, employers may also rely upon resumes, interviews, references, and background checks to find the best person for the position. Tests help provide a uniform and fair method of comparing job applicants. So if you're asked to take an employment test, don't get angry. Even senior executives at the best companies in the world are often asked to take pre-employment tests.

    If your prospective employer sees you are nervous or upset at being asked to take a test, they may be concerned about how you will handle the normal day-to-day job stress, so try to relax and you will actually test better.
  3. Don't sweat personality tests.
    Personality tests are popular, but most job applicants do not understand what they are or how they are used. The most important thing for you to remember is that there are no right or wrong answers. Personality tests are designed to measure "traits" that are associated with successful performance of a certain job. For example, a company may have determined that its best salespeople tend to be outgoing and competitive. Among other measures, they may give a personality test to try to find people with those traits.

    Some people think they should try to fake it and answer questions in the way that they think the employer wants. This approach does not work for two reasons:
    1. Most personality tests contain an internal validity scale that detects attempts to misrepresent yourself. If your answers are seen as being dishonest then you actually hurt your chances of being hired.
    2. Employers administer personality tests to determine if you are a good fit for the job and if the job is a good fit for you. Even if you are somehow able to fool them into thinking you have the personality type they are looking for, chances are you will not be very good at, or happy with, the job if you do get it.
    In fact, preventing employee turnover is one of the most important reasons companies give pre-employment tests. They do not want to waste the time and money hiring and training someone who will not work out or someone who leaves them. So even if you do manage to fake your way through a personality test, chances are in a few weeks or months you will be right back where you are now: looking for a new job.

    Whatever your personality is, there is a job that is right for you. Figure out what that job is, and go find it.
  4. Make the time.
    Employment tests can be given on site (at the company's place of business) or off (for example, some companies allow you to take web-based tests at home.) Depending on the type of test or tests, you may need a few minutes or several hours. Find out how much time you will need and make sure you take the test in a location that is free from distractions.
  5. Read the instructions.
    The most common mistake test-takers make is rushing through instructions. It is very important to read the instructions carefully and make certain you understand them. Sometimes instructions contain information about how the test is scored. For example, on some aptitude tests you may be told that there is no penalty for incorrect answers. In this case, if you are running out of time you should start guessing.