Face-to-face interviews are only part of the recruitment process. Psychometric testing, says Roy Davis of SHL, is just another opportunity to shine....

Job-seeking can be a challenge. Finding the right job can seem a formidable task. However, it is often overlooked that selection is a two-way process where the individual and the organisation are making a choice.

The assessment of a candidate's personal strengths and limitations is an essential stage in an organisation's choice-making. The most common form of assessment is the interview, but you can increasingly expect to encounter a combination of methods, including psychometric tests, in support of the interview.

The internet is playing a growing role in recruitment and selection, and you are likely to come across "tests" delivered by this medium. Increasingly, you will be asked to submit your initial application over the internet, and this may also involve the completion of a questionnaire.

Why do organisations use such techniques? Primarily, because they offer a standardised approach, and used in various combinations allow you to show a range of abilities in ways that are more objectively assessable than at interview alone.

The most common forms of "tests" you are likely to come across are ability tests. They are typically timed, multiple choice tests that assess your ability to interpret or reason with various types of information, e.g. verbal and numeric tests.

You may also encounter self-report questionnaires that look at how you see yourself in terms of your personality, motivation or interests. Depending on the job role you may also encounter group exercises, in-trays and other exercises. Generally the answers to ability tests are either right or wrong, as opposed to self-report questionnaires where there are no right or wrong answers.

One way of looking at these is to see them as a written interview - another opportunity to give information about yourself in a controlled, structured manner.

During the assessment process you may be working individually or with a group of participants in a process referred to as an assessment centre, and you may be interviewed or observed by one or more assessor.

Before the selection event get to know yourself, develop self-insight. Draw up a list of your strengths and limitations in relation to the job. Ensure that you can describe yourself drawing on experiences in and out of work to illustrate your skills. Also, if you have any special requirements, e.g. disabilities, do contact the organisation before hand to discuss your needs.

During the event do listen carefully to any instructions. If you aren't clear, do ask. Assessors will be looking for how you perform on the exercises, not to see if you can follow instructions. Above all, don't make assumptions about the way you responses will be judged. It is best to always be yourself, and answer openly and honestly.

Do remember that the assessment and selection process is not only an integral hurdle in finding the right job, it is a fund of valuable self-insight.

Consider our prospective employer's intentions. They are trying to achieve the closest fit between the people they appoint and the jobs that have to be done ie the right person for the right job. Do ask for feedback, whether you are successful or not. Assessment events can be powerful aids to gaining that valuable self insight, and form an essential part of the self-learning process that underpins successful self-managed careers.

nRoy Davis is Head of Communications at SHL, objective assessors of people, their jobs and the organisational context in which they work.