Written Test for Job Interview

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 22, 2021 | Published November 23, 2020

Updated February 22, 2021

Published November 23, 2020

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Regardless of the specifics of the job you are interviewing for, the outcome of the written test can have a direct impact on your overall results. Knowing how to perform well on a written test is a valuable skill, but it requires research and practice. In this article, we discuss the different types of written tests in job interviews and how you can improve your chances to pass them.

Related: 18 Things to Avoid Doing in a Job Interview

What is a written test in a job interview?

A job interview written test is a part of the recruitment process that consists of a written examination with the purpose of assessing the applicant's skills, abilities and knowledge on various matters that are related to the job they are applying for. The written test generally takes place during the interview or online before the interview.

Its format depends on the type of job that the person is applying for and the skills that the interviewer wants to assess. In most situations, the applicant receives a brief and has a set amount of time to complete the test. Written job interview tests are usually completed by hand and last between 40 and 60 minutes.

Related: How to Pass a Job Interview

Types of written tests in job interviews

There are several types of written tests that may be assigned during a job interview. Some of them are:

Communication skills test

Written tests are often used in job interviews as a way of testing the applicant's communication skills. Depending on the role you are applying for and the interviewer's preferences, the communication skills written test usually consists of writing a sample letter, essay or press release. The employer typically analyzes the content for grammar, punctuation and how relevant and knowledgeable it is.

Aptitude test

Most aptitude tests are standardized and aim to assess the applicant's various aptitudes and general behavior when compared to normal parameters for people within the same age group and experience level. They evaluate the applicant's abilities for a specific set of tasks related to the job they're applying for. Questions in this kind of test usually involve testing their abstract reasoning, memory, verbal and numerical literacy, perception of space and time, attention and other similar traits.

Intelligence test

This is a test designed to test the applicant's general ability to understand abstractions and to deal with various unique situations. It typically consists of either a standard intelligence quotient (IQ) test or a set of questions or scenarios that require the applicant to use logical thinking. A good intelligence test rating is usually an accurate indicator that the applicant has the potential to quickly acquire new information and skills.

Personality test

The purpose of some interview tests is to determine the applicant's character and overall personality. Their goal is to assess soft skills and to increase the odds of selecting honest individuals that can complete various professional tasks, can work in a team environment and have the mental fortitude to handle job-related pressure.

Most personality tests are a series of questions that can be either multiple-choice or short-answer. They usually relate to issues like workplace conflict, communication with coworkers or reactions to different situations that may reveal certain required personality traits. Some personality tests also include cross-referenced questions that have the same theme, their purpose being to test the applicant's honesty and intellectual consistency.

Related: 9 Signs a Job Interview Went Well

Hard skills assessment test

Hard skill assessments are specific written tests solely related to the skills and knowledge required to perform the job. They typically consist of practical exercises that measure the applicant's ability to complete frequently performed work activities.

Creative thinking test

Creative thinking tests typically consist of questions regarding previous work situations in which the applicant had to use their creativity to resolve various issues or to find new ways of performing a task. This type of test can give the hiring manager an insight into how the applicant may handle unexpected work issues.

Problem-solving test

These tests aim to measure an applicant's problem-solving skills. They typically involve a problem that is related to the job they are applying for. Aside from asking the applicant how they would approach and solve the respective problem, the test typically also asks them to explain their reasoning and what they would do to prevent the issue from happening again in the future.

Related: Job Interview Do's and Don'ts

Tips on how to perform well on a written test for job interview

There are various ways to increase the odds of passing a written test for a job interview. Some of them are:

  • Be mindful of the allocated time. Your main objective should be completing the written test within the allocated time. A good way to make sure you don't over-focus on the quality of the content is to divide the allocated time into equal parts for each section of the test.

  • Keep calm. Being comfortable in exam situations is likely to lead to better results. A good way to keep calm and confident is by remembering that being invited to take the written test means that you are a viable candidate for the job.

  • Check your writing for minor errors. Save time to re-read your test so you can spot various minor errors that you may have missed. Proper spelling is a good way to show the interviewer that you have good written communication skills.

  • Make sure you are well-rested. Taking the written test when you are physically and mentally fresh can increase the odds of you performing well. A good night's sleep and avoidance of unnecessary distractions help you stay rested and focused.

  • Pay attention to the directions. The hiring manager usually gives applicants general directions regarding the kind of test they are about to take, plus specific instructions on what they should write. It's important that you listen carefully so you know exactly what you need to do.

  • Be truthful in personality tests. Some applicants are tempted to write what they think the hiring manager wants to read, instead of the truth. It's usually good to be truthful, as honesty is generally regarded as a positive trait and some tests include questions that evaluate how honest your responses are by inquiring about similar issues in different ways.

  • Prepare for the test. Most written tests are announced beforehand as being a part of the interview process, allowing you to properly prepare for them. Make sure you are fully prepared by reading relevant material and, in the case of intelligence or aptitude tests, look for online practice tests.

  • Try to arrive early. Make sure you give yourself enough time to find the location and mentally settle down before starting the written test.


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