test
Back

The Science Behind Online Tests, and How to Ace Them

24.10.2016

Virgin

If you’ve applied for a position with us here at Virgin Media, one of the steps you will be asked to complete as part of your application is the online test.

Now, if you’re like us, you were pleased to leave tests behind in school or university. Sometimes it can be a bit of a shock to learn that you have to complete an assessment before you start your interview revision.

But really, there’s nothing to fear with an online test. It’s a pretty standard procedure for many businesses now and they are designed to level the playing field between candidates - offering a great way to get an entirely impartial and objective view of someone.

So what will an online test assess me on?

The main thing online tests are designed to do is measure your critical thinking and how you would naturally respond to a set of typical, job specific situations. So by presenting you with some real life scenarios and a series of multiple choice answers to choose from - an employer can get to really understand how you function in the workplace.

It all sounds pretty technical on paper, but really the online tests can actually help you get to know yourself better too. You can see not only where your weaknesses lie, but where your strengths are too. Think yourself a great problem solver? These tests will help you highlight those skills and think of examples when you’ve applied them best. Is conflict resolution your forte? A fun and illuminating critical thinking test could be the perfect way for you to figure out how to best express how you manage this in your working life.

Really, the best thing to do when you’re first confronted with one of these tests is to take a deep breath, put aside 20 minutes and simply remember to be yourself. There are no right or wrong answers; it’s just a matter of matching you to the culture of our company and making sure we're on the same page.

Our top tips to acing your online tests

Critical thinking tests like this aren’t really tests that you can revise for. The trick is to relax and answer honestly. But that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare! There are a few tips and tricks that you can put into practice that will make the overall exercise a little easier and may help you walk away from the process with some insight into what makes you tick.

Practice

Practice makes perfect and that has never rung more true than when it comes to preparing for a test. Familiarise yourself with the format of an online assessment and have a go at filling the responses in. That way you won’t be surprised when you sit down to do the actual one!

Tests like these can come in many different formats – some are multiple choice, others may have free text boxes for you to go into more detail about your answer. You will be better prepared if you have had a stab at a few different types of test, that way you are less likely to stumble on a surprise when you get to the real thing.

Why not give some of our practice tests a go? We’ve carefully crafted a series of example tests for you to try out. These will give you a good indication of the kind of questions you’re likely to be asked and the kind of answers we’ll be looking for.


Analyse

When it comes to acing anything to do with critical thinking, it’s vital that you read the question. Remember your teachers telling you that in school? Well it still stands!

Ultimately, you’re being assessed on your ability to evaluate a situation. Prioritise it's separate elements and make a judgement on the best course of action to take. That’s why your analytical skills are some of your most valuable when it comes to these kinds of tasks.


Patterns

We all have our own patterns of thinking and behaviour, which is perfectly natural! What the online tests perfectly provide is an opportunity for you to identify any patterns in how you typically respond to questions.

You can discover insights about yourself that will not only help you ace the test itself, but also contribute to your self-knowledge and help you further down the recruitment process. Maybe you’re more of a team player who seeks harmony and cohesion in the workplace - or you could be a born leader who can make a decision quickly and independently.

Whatever it is you discover about yourself, you’re now in a more powerful position than ever. You’ll be able to more confidently answer the real questions in a way that is true to who you are. You’ll also be more sure of your qualities when you reach interview stage.


It’s not easy out there. While it may at first seem like yet another hoop to jump through in the journey to getting a job - the online test stage is actually pretty useful. This helps reveal how you work individually, as well as part of a team. It can also help you to firmly outline your strengths with clarity and confidence!


Good luck!