Removing barriers to applications: tips for tests & reasonable adjustments

Tests and reasonable adjustments blog

This October, Daniel Defreitas from Peoplewise delivered a session about psychometric tests and reasonable adjustments for disabled students. Here are our main take aways.

1.      Stress can be a positive thing

We tend to think that all stress is bad.  Actually, some feelings of stress are just a perfectly normal response to the unknown or the unexpected that everyone experiences.  Think of calming strategies that work for you in other areas of your life and see if they can help in assessment situations too.

Making yourself as familiar as you can with the recruitment processes that you’ll come across will help too.  They won’t be “the unexpected” any longer and you’ll understand why employers ask you to do them (see #3 for more ideas about how…)

2.      Be yourself

Tests are used alongside other recruitment practices- such as application forms or interviews- to help recruiters identify candidates who have the skills, experiences and other qualities they want for a particular role in a particular organisation.

It’s important that you feel comfortable in the job if you get it, and Daniel’s main piece of advice was ‘be yourself!’ Pretending to be the person you think the employer is looking for makes things harder for you, and could lead to you ending up somewhere that isn’t well suited to your personality and values. On top of that, it can be difficult to predict what it is that an employer is looking for. Maybe they’re looking for ‘cultural fit’ trying to select candidates who have a similar mindset to the existing team. Or maybe they’re looking for a greater diversity and fresh perspectives that would come from a candidate with quite a different outlook.

3.      Knowing what to expect

Tests can come in different styles and formats.  Some employers also use gamified recruitment, with assessments that look more like simple video games. Some employers provide examples of the tests they us on their careers pages. You can also see examples and practice answering them with the resources Profiling for Success and Graduates First which you can find on our psychometric tests webpage. The table below gives an overview of some common types you might come across.

Test type Typical formats Typical times
Personality assessments Vary widely but include multiple choice questions, ranking exercises, true/false statements and Likert scales. There’s no ‘wrong answers’ but recruiters will have specific things they are looking for- often particular personality traits, state of mind or preferences Often untimed, can take between 10-90min
Aptitude assessments Could be verbal reasoning, numerical skills, spatial reasoning or error checking. Answers might be given as true/false, ranking or multiple choice. There can be a right and wrong answer

May get progressively harder throughout the test (but not always)

Usually timed- variety of times
Situational Judgement Tests Customised to each organisation,

Gives a scenario and several possible responses. You will either be asked to rank options from best to worst response or choose the best and worst option from a range of options

Sometimes drag and drop format

Usually timed- variety of times
Interviews Informal chat/formal process, in person, over video call, over phone call, pre-recorded format like HireVue Usually timed- variety of times but range of 20min-1 hour is most common
Technical tests Used to assess tangible and technical skills and can include working through tasks you might face in the job- replying to emails, analysing a data-set etc Usually timed- variety of times
Assessment Centre A combination of above tasks often in addition to group activities with other candidates and social events with employees. Can be online or in person. See our video for more details Usually a day or half day
4.      It’s OK to ask for what you need

In the UK, the Equality Act 2010 means an employer has a duty ​to remove barriers a person might face because of their disability​ so they can apply for jobs and do the job in the same way as someone without a disability​. This is known as making reasonable adjustments and includes removing barriers in the recruitment process. These adjustments are individual and made on a case-by-case basis so it’s useful to talk to employers about what your personal situation is and what would help. These conversations can also help you decide if the employer and the workplace are a good fit and somewhere you would enjoy working.

A common adjustment for tests is to request extra time to complete them. You could also request tests are delivered in a different format, for example completing an assessment with pen and paper, rather than online. To give you more ideas the UK Civil Service has a comprehensive guide to common adjustments, much of which will be applicable to other employers and recruitment processes.

For students accessing assessments in other countries, where the law may be different, remember that the organisations that create the tests are usually international and will be able to provide the same adjustments for candidates regardless of the country they are in.

5.      You can make some adjustments yourself

Adjustments aren’t always something you need to ask for! You can make some adjustments yourself using technology you already own, or by optimising your browser settings. This might include changing the font, display-size, colour or contrast on your browser or monitor. The (American) Bureau of Internet Accessibility has a useful guide.

If you’d like more career advice related to disabilities you can book an appointment with a Career Consultant through Handshake.

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