That very first interview particularly after completing university can be daunting. For me, that was a Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test (CCAT). Such tests measure your cognitive strengths and critical thinking abilities. In this post, I share some useful tips and resources I’ve collected online to assist you in preparing for such aptitude tests. On to that successful interview!
INTERVIEWING AT ONE OF THE AUDITING COMPANIES?
PwC, Ernst & Young, Deloitte and KPMG are the most recognized audit powerhouses both in Tanzania and the world at large. There are a few more companies that have cropped up in the last decade or so and other non-auditing firms for which these resources and tips are equally relevant for a successful interview.
I had the opportunity to be called in for a test at PwC a few months after completing my undergraduate studies, the first of a couple of steps on the road to a series of interviews before an offer, that is if you successfully jump through all the hurdles. The tests are timed and conducted online. I blew the test because I did not thoroughly review the types of tests and sample questions one would expect to encounter.
The aptitude tests are manageable but the one thing I learned is that trying to correctly answer each question will likely mean you run out of time with only half or a little more than half of the questions completed.
As it turns out, the test isn’t really that tough if you’re well prepared; I recently did an interview for a company using on demand assessments to filter applicants through the initial application stage and this time did pretty well for instance going through all 50 questions in a 15 minute aptitude test. The test actually recommends that you skip to the next question and not spend too long on one question. Each correctly answered question gets you one point, the more points you earn, the higher the chances of a successful interview.
The percentage of people that actually complete these questions is listed by several sources at 1%. Completing all questions certainly does not mean answering them correctly but it does increase the odds of earning more points. The test includes three different kinds of questions namely: verbal, math and logic, and spatial reasoning.
Other tips for a successful interview
Carefully Read the Instructions
Leverage Your Strengths
I strongly believe in focusing on people’s strengths instead of trying to rectify their weaknesses, I’ve had success using this strategy in leadership and management and when evaluating individuals, I make a determination to improve on their existing strengths and get more out of them. Similarly in aptitude tests, it is not unusual for individuals to have strong math abilities but not equally strong verbal abilities.
You either favor numbers or letters, rarely both and there is really no point getting flustered with your weaknesses. The point is to ensure that you’re giving yourself the best chance to answer all the questions in your comfort zone. For instance: if your logic skills are rusty and math problems specifically make your head hurt, it’s better to hazard a guess and move on to questions you’re more likely to get right.
Manage your time
Remember that you only get 15 minutes to speed through 50 questions, that works out exactly 18 seconds to answer each question, 18 seconds! But if you get that urge (we all do) to finish off every questions, remind yourself that you don’t have to get through all the questions to impress the hiring manager. Again, DO NOT spend too much time on any one question, it’s not worth it. If you find that you’ve spent more than 30 seconds on a problem, simply make an educated guess and move on to the next question!
Various tools exist online to help you test yourself. I’ve compiled over a couple of weeks various documents with questions on verbal reasoning and inductive reasoning. Both resources are available in the download links below.
You can also try some online tools such as JobFlare to measure your cognitive abilities and test your strengths.