• Service: Advisory, Management Consulting, Executive Search & Selection
  • Type: KPMG information
  • Date: 20/09/2013

Careers Corner: Aptitude / personality advice 

Some employers use tests as part of the recruitment process. They are used because they appear to be more objective than procedures such as an interview. A reliable and well validated test can provide a more accurate indication of future job success in particular tasks. However, a test is usually only one aspect of the selection procedure. There are two main types of tests: aptitude tests and personality questionnaires.

Aptitude tests aim to assess your logical reasoning or thinking performance. They are not tests of general knowledge. Many tests are designed to measure a particular ability e.g. verbal, numerical, diagrammatic, spatial, abstract reasoning, and/or data interpretation. They are administered under exam conditions and are strictly timed. The questions are often multiple choice, and have definite "right" and "wrong" answers. Your score is compared with how other people have done on the test in the past. This group (the "norm group") could be other students/graduates, current job holders or a more general group.



  • Practice with word games, mathematical teasers, puzzles with diagrams, etc.
  • Brush up by practicing some basic mental arithmetic - addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, calculation of percentages and ratios


During the Tests:

  • Work through the questions at an efficient rate. If you get stuck on a question, don't spend too long on it. The procedure for scoring the test may include negative marking so it is advisable, if you are unsure of the answer, not to guess the answer but rather to move onto the next question.
  • Don't worry if you don't answer all the questions. As you go through the tests, the questions may become more difficult, and there are frequently more questions than you can comfortably complete within the time limit. It is the number of correct answers which counts.
  • Read the question properly, particularly in numerical and data interpretation questions


Personality Questionnaires:

Personality questionnaires aim to assess your personal qualities by your responses to a number of questions or statements. They focus on a variety of personality factors such as: how you relate to other people, your work-style, your ability to deal with your own and others' emotions, your motivations and determination, and your general outlook.


Unlike aptitude tests, there are no "right" or "wrong" answers and questionnaires are not usually timed. It is best to approach all of these questionnaires as straightforwardly as you can. Be yourself, answer sensibly and don't try to second guess the aim of the questions as trying to guess what the employer is looking for could be counter productive.