Competency-Based Tests – Know, Prepare, Excel

Competency-based tests are increasingly gaining popularity amongst recruiters worldwide. These tests may take the form of written or verbal questions designed to test the applicant’s skills in various criteria. Once the applicant has answered the question, their response is graded based upon certain pre-selected criteria.

For example, an applicant may be asked to give an example of a situation where they have faced a conflict of interest. They would be asked to explain their thought processes while they assessed the situation, their response, and the eventual outcome. Such a competency-based question may test them in several skills such as – compliance, awareness, integrity, conflict management, thinking under pressure and so on.

Psychometric analysis

Many organisations go beyond the few competency-based interview questions and instead have standardised written or multiple-choice questions. These tests are usually psychometric in nature, designed to objectively measure skills, abilities, knowledge and even personality traits.

Organisations often have mandatory psychometric tests that must be undertaken at some point during the selection process. Some organisations take these tests very seriously and there have been instances of job offers even being revoked at very high positions due to a bad psychometric evaluation.

How to prepare

Given the increasing importance of competency-based tests, applicants and job seekers need to prepare and prepare well. In some cases, these tests are just a barrier to cross, a sort of qualification round. However, in other cases, they are much more and candidates are scored and graded based on their responses and the results usually have an overbearing influence on the hiring decision. This would be especially true during face to face interviews where the candidate’s responses and mannerisms often overshadow their achievements on paper.

Written tests

There are quite a few multiple choice type tests available to be taken online for candidates to get a good idea about where they stand and which aspects need improvement. Some resources are free whilst others will cost based upon how much input is needed to improve tests scores. These are helpful if the targeted organisation has a generic psychometric test designed to assess various capabilities. There are also more specialised tests available to test traits like leadership, sales ability, mathematical aptitude, etc based upon the demands of the role.

Verbal tests

If competency-based questions are likely to come up in an interview, then a little more practice is necessary. Questions in an interview will always be constructed around the role for which the application is made and not generic. The interviewer will want to assess what the applicant would do in a situation which they feel routinely occurs in the role applied for or is otherwise important for someone in that role. Therefore, it is necessary to understand what the role demands and the skills that are important. Even if it’s not possible to answer perfectly, it is sometimes just enough to demonstrate the knowledge about to know how to proceed and how to handle the situation appropriately.

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Renaix Guide to Recruitment for Audit and Finance Professionals.


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