Work Sample and Business Scenario Psychometric Tests

Also known as : business simulation, business scenario, work sample, situational decision making, situational test, judgement and decision making test.

Typical length: 30-60 questions

Typical time to complete: 30 - 40 minutes, often untimed as quality of performance may be rated more highly than speed of performance

Well-designed psychometric
tests assess those characteristics required of a candidate to do the job. Sometimes a test may actually ask you to demonstrate behaviour, which is different to the ultimate job behaviour, for instance you may be asked to sit an intelligence test rather than a test of your skills as a manager. One approach identifies a representative sample of work behaviour and observes the applicant carrying it out in conditions, which are as near to the work environment as possible. These are known as Work Sample Tests and you are likely to come across one of three types.

Firstly, there are those which are concerned with job related information where the amount of knowledge you have relevant to a particular job is assessed, strictly speaking this is not a work sample test rather it is a test of achievement or attainment. Professional examinations are attainment tests.

Secondly there are those concerned with individual situational decision-making where you are asked to take decisions similar to those taken in the job. These can include in-tray exercises, which sample the contents of an existing employee's in-tray (memos, letters, reports etc.), which you have to deal with within a set time period. In-tray exercises are often used to assess planning and organising skills, decision-making, communication, and financial or problem solving skills.

In Tray exercises often need to be highly job specific and are often custom designed for specific recruitment situations. By their nature, off the shelf In tray exercises cannot be highly job specific.

Finally, there are those concerned with group discussions/decision making where your performance in a group setting is evaluated, these are used for positions where team work is important and are used more for managerial jobs than anything else. Popular forms include the leaderless group discussion, or the leader led group discussion where candidates are appointed in turn to act as leader during problem solving exercises (this is commonly used in officer selection in the armed forces). Almost always selectors will be looking for teamwork rather than leadership skills. Remember that selectors are impressed by people who can generate ideas and encourage others to do the same or persuade the group to adopt theirs. Always try to encourage everybody to participate and never try to steal the limelight.

It is often the case that you may not have been trained in the job in question in which case a trainability test may be used to assess your suitability to undergo a training course. This will typically incorporate a structured and controlled learning period and may well examine how you perform the task as well as the outcome.

Question 13, Critical Thinking,  on the verbal ability page and Question 17, Numerical Reasoning, on the practice test pages give an indication of what a paper based Business Scenario/Simulation may look like.


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