When employers are looking for excellence, or even adequacy, in a very specific skill set, they may require skills tests as part of the interview process.
But don’t panic. You’ll usually know about the skills test well in advance. The employer may even list it in the job posting as part of the minimum requirements.
You may encounter all sorts of tests in the interview process, including personality tests, talent assessments, cognitive tests, and emotional intelligence testing. But the only one you can really prep for is the talent assessment, or skills test.
What is a Skills Test?
Skills tests are given by potential employers in an effort to determine whether a job candidate can perform the tasks required for the job. These tests focus on potential skills and abilities and have nothing to do with the applicant’s personality or emotional intelligence.
Fortunately, you can prepare for a skills test. Here are five things you can do to help get ready.
1. Clearly List Skills on Your Resume
This one isn’t going to help you get a better score on the skills test, but it will set expectations. You don’t know what the employer is really looking for, so if you’re clear about the skills you lack and land an interview anyway, there’s a good chance you may get the job. On the other hand, if you include certifications on your resume that you don’t have, and then perform poorly on the test, the interviewer will easily connect the dots. It’s always a good idea to be honest upfront.
2. Get a Study Guide
If you’re in an industry where these types of tests are common, you may be able to find some study guides online. There’s a good chance you aren’t the first one to take the test, so you may find that people have shared their experiences online. If you can find out what kind of questions the test may ask, you can be more prepared.
3. Dust Off Your Books
If you work in an industry that required certification, dust off all those books you used to study for your test. Study them. If an employer wants to test your knowledge of this certification, you can bet the skills test will be reminiscent of your certification exam. If your industry didn’t require certification, try reading one or two of the most recommended books in your niche. The bottom line is that you should brush up on whatever industry-specific information you can find.
4. Ask Around
Do you know anyone who has applied for this job before? Try asking around. There may be a friend of a friend who has been in your shoes before. Offer to buy that person coffee in exchange for picking their brain. Ask them what the test is like and if it was difficult.
Sometimes, your work experience alone will prepare you for such a skills test and it helps to know if this is the case. It’s always a good idea to show up over-prepared (instead of under-prepared), but you also don’t want to waste time worrying about nothing.
5. Clear Your Mind
This bit of advice seems to counter the rest, but it’s all about to make sense. Once you’ve prepped as much as possible, it’s time to let it go. You can really psych yourself out worrying about the test. And that’s likely to hurt your performance instead of helping it.
About a day or so before your skills test, and after you’ve become an expert on each skill, it’s time to master relaxation. You can feel good about all you’ve learned and show up with a clear mind. All you can do is your best, and that has to be good enough. Even if this job means a lot to you, remember that there are more important things in life. Show up, do your best, and let the cards fall where they may.
As if the resume and person-to-person interview wasn’t enough, now you have to prepare for a skills test. But don’t worry. You probably already have all the skills you’ll need to rock this job. And if you’re unsure, there are many ways you can prepare. So go ahead and study up, and then take a deep breath and head to your test.