10 Things Everyone should know about assessments

1 If you are in doubt about the true meaning or use of your assessment outcome (replacement/job exit threat) consult a lawyer first about your position and rights. Never do an assessment if you are not 100% sure about the intention of the assessment provider/client and the fairness of the procedure. Remember: he who pays pulls the strings.

2 More and more assessments become (partially) web based, but a web-based assessment is by definition not a real assessment. An assessment should exist of various tasks, exercises, tests, interviews and questionnaires with various modes. It should be relevant for the required job characteristics and it should stimulate you to show why you are qualified. Boring assessments only exist for James Bond like jobs.

3 Prepare yourself thoroughly for the assessment and the interview. Don’t see it as an exam, but as an opportunity to show that you are motivated and qualified for the job and to gain valuable self knowledge for future development. Be sure you know the relevant aspects of the job and the company. You must be able to explain your view on the job, the company and relevant future developments. Thorough preparation is a sign of conscientiousness, a universal job performance predictor.

4 Practice, especially when you did intelligence-test like items a long time ago. Remember that no assessment psychologist will advice a candidate when in doubt about the suitability of his or her cognitive level (except when you’re in politics). Practice with serious cognitive material, not the internet junk tests found everywhere on the web. Remember: more intelligence is better, but it is not everything.

5 Don’t inflate your personality profile too much. Although we live in narcissist times, assessment psychologists are in general reality oriented and have a flavor for self conscious, humble and friendly people. Remember that outcomes on a general personality questionnaire only explain about 10 percent of your job performance. It’s basically used to find out if you have extreme/unrealistic opinions on some aspects of your behavior.

6 Skillful assessment psychologists know that your reactions on your personality profile outcome are more meaningful than a blunt set of scores. So be prepared to talk about your personality and drives. Remember: personality profiling is prone to human error. Extreme profiles create suspicion and psychologists hate outliers, except when they have a very special and valuable skill or trait to offer.

7 During the interview: keep your answers short and to the point. Focus on what yo will contribute and how. Check your opponent(s) and ask open questions. Steer towards a dialogue instead of a monologue or an interrogation. Make yourself and your opponent(s) feel comfortable. Use humor: it unites people and makes them feel relaxed.

8 Don’t indulge on your so-called weaknesses. It’s not your job to tell the assessment psychologist why you are less qualified for the job. Don’t start doing work for assessment psychologists or interviewers. It makes them suspicious.

9 After the assessment you are entitled to an exit interview and discussing the reporting. Make sure you have read the conclusions and argumentation in the preliminary report. Realize that this is your opportunity to learn: some free advice on how to improve your future performance. If you think the report is an embarrassment: block it’s use for further evaluation. Focus on what you can improve.

10 If you feel the assessment was a hoax or not transparent and you have the idea that you were manipulated: explain this in the exit interview and say that you intend to report this to the organization. State your complaints in a calm and factual way and ask what will be done about it. If possible, consult an Industrial psychologist on the issue first, preferably by means of some Internet forum. Just be careful not to become a pain in the ass candidate, doing assessments for the rest of your life….

References: Bloemers, W. (2014). De Nieuwe Assessmentgids. Een oefenboek. AMBO, Amsterdam. (The New Assessment Guide, a book of exercises).

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