July 6, 2020, by Katie Andrews

Advice for job seekers series: Be prepared to be tested

There’s no question that the current pandemic and the responses to it have been devastating for many; not only in human health terms but economically too.  Many people have found themselves unexpectedly looking for work in a jobs market that has markedly changed in a relatively short time.

For those looking for work for the first time in many years, it may be a whole new ball game.  Understanding how the recruitment and selection process may have changed is key to being prepared for seeking and applying for new roles.

In a series of daily blogs, Dr Terri Simpkin, Associate Professor at the Nottingham University Business School, and former Human Resources Director, provides some insight and tips on navigating modern job search practices.

It’s recruitment, but not as you knew it.

In the not too distant past, job hunting was often characterised by pounding the pavement dropping off CVs, letters of introduction or personal resumes to businesses that might be looking to hire new employees.

Not anymore.

Even prior to lockdown, it was highly unlikely that organisations, particularly chains or larger firms, would accept unsolicited applications ‘in store’ or via branches.  The recruitment and selection process has largely been centralised or outsourced and at least in part, automated and managed online.

This means your approach to finding a new job might need to be updated to suit the ways in which organisations manage their hiring practices and to improve your chances of finding and getting the job you want.*

*(The move to online recruitment and selection methods assumes that applicants have access to hardware such as a laptop, desktop computer or a smart device as well as reliable internet access to engage with the application process.  This may be a disadvantage, so be prepared to seek assistance from friends, family or community groups that may be able to help.)

Advice for job seekers: Be prepared to be tested

Many selection processes will include some form of testing.  This might be a psychometric tests that variously indicate personality, team behaviours, preferred ways of working or intelligence.  Others will test critical thinking or decision-making aptitude and some test specific skills associated with the job such as customer service skills.  These are often administered online and sometimes they are time limited.

Quick Tip – Answer questions honestly trying not to give the answers you think are going to be more impressive to get the job.  Tests may have built in mechanisms to check for consistency of response and can identify if someone is not being truthful or consistent in their responses.

Interviews may include questions that try to develop a picture of past work experiences such as, ‘tell us about a time when you needed to deal with interpersonal conflict among colleagues’ or ‘as a leader, how have you dealt with competing priorities in a crisis’.  Be prepared for such questions and practice your answers so that you communicate your strengths and illustrate your capabilities well.

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