Advice for jobseekers. Every month our resident panel of experts answer some of the most popular, challenging and unusual questions posed by job applicants.
We can’t answer every query individually but check regularly and you may well find your question being addressed.
“I’ve been told that finding a job is a numbers game. How many applications a day should I be making to improve my chances of success?”
Thinking about job hunting in terms of quantity rather than quality of applications is something you really should avoid. There’s a recent blog on this topic on our main website which you can read by clicking here.
One of the major challenges of a job search – especially after being made redundant – is keeping up your confidence up. A constant barrage of reject letters (or more likely emails) will do your self-esteem no good at all. And that’s what happens if you keep applying for jobs that you have absolutely no chance of getting.
Most employers and agencies do genuinely try and help candidates by putting the key requirements of the job in their advertisements. Make sure you read every advertisement carefully before you apply. Don’t just fall for the headline and salary and leap to the reply paragraph. If you really don’t have the qualifications or experience being sought you really need to reflect on whether investing time in applying makes sense. It may be far better to invest that same time in looking for more relevant opportunities.
“I have never been asked before to do any form of test as part of a job application. Why I am I being asked to do one now? Surely an interview will tell a new employer everything they need to know about me.
Interviews are the most common form of assessment you are likely to experience. However, research suggests that they are not great predictors of future job performance. On a scale of 0 to 1 (where 1 is perfect prediction) interviews usually achieve a predictive validity of about 0.3. And that is when the interviewer has been trained in structured techniques.
The predictive validity of many cognitive ability tests (like verbal and numerical reasoning) is much higher. The same is true of personality questionnaires.
The best results of all are usually achieved by blending tests, interviews, exercise and work samples to form an assessment centre.
“I’ve been asked to do an on-line numeracy test before I go for an interview. I’ve heard stories of candidates getting friends to do these tests so they can be sure they will get a good result. Can employers ever find out?”
Candidate fraud is big news at the moment – and employers are getting ever better at detecting it. So candidates shouldn’t be surprised if when they turn up for interview they are asked to re-take a similar test. If the results are hugely different it would be more than a little bit embarrassing…
Our view is simple: cheating at tests does you no favours. You’ll only end up in a job you can’t really do. That won’t be good for you or your CV. If you are nervous about doing this type of test a quick hunt on Google will quickly uncover lots of websites where you can undertake practice tests for free.
“I have been told I am in the 65th percentile for an ability test. What does that actually mean?”
It means that you achieved a higher score than 65% of the other people that have undertaken the same test.
Your raw test score isn’t always that useful – ie knowing that you got 15 out of 20. That might be great if everyone else got 14 or less. It would be less impressive if everyone else got the maximum 20. A percentile score puts your results in perspective.