Top Tips for improving your performance with psychometric assessments

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If you find the idea of completing online psychometric assessments daunting you’re not alone. Saqib Saddiq, Senior Psychologist at Graduates First shares his top tips for tackling psychometric tests:

  1. Start thinking about psychometric assessments well in advance so you have time to research the types of assessments you might be asked to complete and familiarise yourself with them. Many employers use the same test publishers to source their psychometric tests, so it’s worth spending time practicing to familiarise yourself with the types of psychometric tests and typical formats before you sit the assessments for real.
  2. Spend time practicing tests in advance. Most universities purchase packages to enable their students and graduates to practice online assessments under similar conditions to the real thing and receive detailed feedback so they can identify and work on areas for improvement. Along with Graduates First, (subscribed to by Sheffield Hallam University and other universities), other sites offering practice tests include CEBGlobal and Assessment Day.
  3. Find out which types of tests you’re likely to face with specific employers (for example look at the employer profiles on Graduates First), then spend time preparing for those specific tests. If you know you’ll be sitting a numerical reasoning test (tests your ability to reason with numerical information using basic arithmetic calculations) practice basic calculations in advance e.g. via BBC Bitesize. If you are expecting to take a situational judgement test or work personality questionnaires research the type of candidate the company is looking for and try to match your characteristics. When answering questions in the real assessment try to think of behaviours that a good candidate would demonstrate.
  4. Use practice tests to identify areas you can improve on, then work on improving your performance in those areas. If you find you struggle with accuracy, work on your concentration. If you run out of time you might need to take more practice tests and work on your speed.
  5. Realise that you’re not expected to finish the assessments –  they’re designed to stretch all candidates (meaning that no-one will reach the end). Stay calm and do your best – without getting upset if you do not manage to answer all questions. This is especially important if you are expected to go through a number of assessments in a row.
  6. Make sure you have the right conditions to maximise your performance completing the assessments use a PC or laptop in a quiet location where you won’t be disturbed etc. Make sure you have all the necessary items to hand before your start, such as a few sheets of paper, a pen and a calculator (if needed).

For more tips from myself and my colleagues at Graduates First, follow us on YouTube

 

Making your CV stand out from the crowd!

My name is Ayesha Hope, I am a second year Business student. I am currently writing and rewriting my CV on a daily basis as I am sure many of us are! I think we all know the importance of a CV and the general layout of one, but I’m going to give you some tips on how to make it stand out against the rest:

  • Make sure you sell yourself – do not lie but consider what you have achieved; you may not think your part time job means very much but you will have learnt a lot skills which you did not have before! Show this off! (ALWAYS use the star technique see e.g. http://careerscentral.shu.ac.uk/applications/supporting-statement )
  • Position the most relevant information on the first page – for example, if you are a Business student and you’re applying for a Business related position you’re degree needs to be on the first page along with any relevant modules. If you are a biology student and you have work experience within this should also be on the first page, this is the first thing that you want them to see.
  • Make sure it’s not generic – tailor your CV to each individual organisation. When you look at a job description look at what they are implying that they want from the person for example if they want someone that has attention to detail, adapt your personal profile to say this and why you have this skill.
  • Back up your skills with an experience – if you just say that you are ambitious you need to explain why, how else are they going to know it is true? If you are reliable tell them why. It sounds so much better and makes you sound more like a real person.
  • Use your hobbies – Think of appropriate interesting hobbies that make the employer want to know more for example if you like sport say which and how you are involved in it, simply stating that you like sport does not have any meaning.

 

TOP TIP

  • Sometimes gaining professional advice can be confusing, I had an employment adviser look at my CV then a seminar tutor from an employability skills related module asked to see it. Even though their advice was brilliant it was completely different, if this happens to you which I am sure it probably will take advice from both then your CV will be even more fantastic.

 

Look over your CV and apply these tips, it will make a world of difference!

Editor’s note: get more advice on CVs and applications through Careers Central, SHU’s dedicated resource for all topics relating to careers http://careerscentral.shu.ac.uk/ including forthcoming events, presentations and more about the STAR approach.

One piece of paper can determine the rest of my life!

Sally Taylor is a final year Childhood Studies student. Here are her thoughts on applying for teacher-training.

Since I can remember I have always wanted to be a primary school teacher… I remember spending countless hours in my bedroom with my teddies laid out pretending to be taking a register. Now at nearly 21 years of age my dream is almost a reality. I have just started my final year of my Childhood Studies course and I would love to have a place on a teacher training course starting next year.

Young girl pretending to be a teacher to her teddy bears

Thinking back to being that little girl with her teddies and register I didn’t think becoming a teacher would be such a long process… It is. And anyone who tells you it isn’t stressful or hard work must be lying to you. I am currently attempting to sell myself to other universities in 47 lines through a personal statement. This is THE hardest thing ever! How can I possibly tell someone in 47 lines how passionate I am about becoming a teacher and educating children on the curriculum?! Thankfully at Sheffield Hallam we have an incredible Employment Advisor called Andrew, who we all probably take for granted, who is willing to spend the time pointing out exactly how to make universities see how passionate we really are.

Thankfully, I am a very organised person in general, so fairly early on I decided I needed to gather lots of materials from Andrew, online, books about how to write the ‘perfect personal statement’and through speaking to other students who had gone through the application process themselves. After I studied this material I decided to just write everything I could think of down on paper. I started by talking about why I actually wanted to be a teacher and about the qualities that I had. Then I progressed into writing about all the experiences I had and how this will shape me into becoming a first-class teacher. By the time I’d finished my draft I had 75 lines! As you can imagine I didn’t know where to start with chopping and cuttings things out. I made an appointment straight away with Andrew and he explained the UCAS layout to me. Little did I know there was a section about my previous experiences… Great, that was 15 lines I could move. I am still, 5 weeks after writing my original draft, adapting my personal statement. It’s funny really how one piece of paper can determine the rest of your life! Luckily, because I started my statement so early on I have the time to not get too stressed out about writing my application and as soon as UCAS opens I will be ready to copy and paste everything into the correct sections.

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I feel so blessed that I have supportive family and friends around me who are there to help me through this process. Because it really is stressful and emotionally draining. I often have sleepless nights thinking – I have no plan B! What will I actually do if I don’t get onto a teacher training course?! I still don’t have the answer to this… But thankfully I have supportive people around me who assure me that I can and will do it. The key advice I have when applying for teacher training is – be organised, use the resources around you and always have a positive mental attitude! As I was taught at primary school… PMA will get you anywhere in life.

Real World Workshop – tackling CVs and applications

Sarah Gledhill, Final Year Events Management with Tourism student, on the challenges of CV writing!

Approximately one month or so ago, we (all students on Events Courses, Level 6) received an email from the Event Management Hub, inviting us to a “Real World Workshop focusing on CV & Applications”.  I confirmed my attendance because I was eager to gain tips and knowledge from others about how it is really quite vital to show the best of yourself in a professional, yet creative way.

We’re paying X amount for the fees, so why not sign up to anything that is remotely beneficial to you whilst you’re here?  That’s how I see it.

After being on a placement year, I’d felt I had stuffed about a gazillion and one name badges and delegate packs so it was really nice to be greeted with one.

The evening was held on the 12th floor in the Owen building; I had never been up there before so that was pretty exciting.  There were 24 other like-minded students who attended and we were welcomed into a professional atmosphere. The evening consisted of presentations, speeches from people in the industry, as well as useful hints and tips.

Overall, I grasped that there is no right or wrong way to write a CV or a cover letter, but it was so useful to find out about other people’s views and their experiences.  We were joined by some people in the Alumni group, who are people that have graduated from University and are out working in the big wide world.  It was so interesting to hear their views too, as they are sifting through people’s CVs every day – for example, have you ever heard of a skills based CV?  I hadn’t…

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Here is a bit of a ‘To Do’ list for me to look into after the workshop:

  • Link my CV to my LinkedIn profile
  • Get my CV down to two pages, rather than the three that it is currently
  • Make a base CV and then have five or six other versions ready to mix and match to fit job descriptions

 

For Event Students, this workshop is being repeated again in mid-November for anyone that is interested and another workshop focusing on Interviews is planned for February.

Editor’s note: don’t forget, there is support for all students in CV writing and making applications both through central workshops and one to one appointments available both in faculty and in the Careers and Employment Centre.  Make sure you take up the support available, and use the resources on line too (Careers Central via the Employability Tab in SHUspace)!