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Example Questions
Employers will test different skills depending upon the job you have applied for.   Some of the more common ability tests are verbal, numerical and diagrammatic.  Here you can try some example questions for each of these skills or choose to look at what a personality questionnaire would involve.
The questions are multiple choice. For each question you are given several possible answers. Most assessments will involve use of pencil, and paper answer sheets. In this case, when you have selected your answer, you should click on the appropriate circle.
Please read the instructions in each case, and work through each individual question as quickly and accurately as you can.
  1. Verbal
Verbal Example Questions Introduction
The verbal questions which follow are multiple choice. For each question, you are given several possible answers. When you have selected your answer, click in the appropriate circle.
Test1: In this test you are given two passages, each of which is followed by several statements. Your task is to evaluate the statements in the light of the information or opinions contained in the passage and to select your answer according to these rules.
In this test you are given two passages, each of which is followed by several statements. Your task is to evaluate the statements in the light of the information or opinions contained in the passage and to select your answer according to these rules.
If you think the statement is patently true or follows logically given the information or opinions contained in the passage If the statement is patently untrue or the opposite follows logically, given the information or opinions contained in the passage If you cannot say whether the statement is true or untrue or follows logically without further information
click on A click on B click on C

1. The main difference between nuclear and fossil-fuelled power stations is an economic one. c
2. The price of coal is not relevant to discussions about the efficiency of nuclear reactors. b
3. If nuclear reactors were cheaper to build and decommission than fossil fuelled power stations, they would definitely have the economic advantage. a

4. Physical stimuli usually win in the competition for our attention. c
5. The capacity of the human brain is sufficient to interpret nearly all the stimuli the senses can register under optimum conditions. b
6. Eyes are able to cope with a greater input of information than ears. c
  The verbal questions which follow are multiple choice. For each question, you are given several possible answers. When you have selected your answer, click in the appropriate circle.
Verbal Example Questions  
In this test you are required to evaluate each statement in the light of the passage. Read through the passage and evaluate the statements according to the rules.
Time Guidelines: see how many questions you can answer in 5 minutes, remembering you should work accurately as well as quickly.
TRUE: If the statement follows logically from the information or opinions contained in the passage FALSE: If the statement is obviously false from the information or opinions contained in the passage If you CANNOT SAY whether the statement is true or false without further information
click on A click on B click on C

1. It is possible that permanent staff who are on holiday can have their work carried out by students.a
2. Students in summer employment are given the same paid holiday benefit as permanent staff.b
3. Students are subject to the organisation's standard disciplinary and grievance procedures.c
4. Some companies have more work to do in summer when students are available for vacation work. a

5. "No smoking" policies have mainly been introduced in response to customer demand. c
6. All banks and building societies now have a "no smoking" policy. b
7. There is no conflict of interest between a "no smoking" policy and personal freedom of choice for all. b
8. A no-smoking policy is in line with most customers' expectations in banks and building societies. a
  1. Numerical
The numerical questions which follow are multiple choice. For each question, you are given several possible answers. When you have selected your answer, click in the appropriate circle.
Go to Test One
In this test you have to use facts and figures presented in statistical tables to answer the questions. In each question you are given either five or ten options from which to choose. One, and only one, of the options is correct in each case.
For some numerical tests of this nature you may be provided with a calculator - for some you may be required to work without one. You may try the following questions with or without the use of a calculator - as you wish. In addition, at your assessment you may be provided with rough paper for your working out.

1. Which country had the highest number of people aged 60 or over at the start of 1985?
  UK   France   Italy   Germany (61*20%) Spain  
2. How many live births occurred in 1985 in Spain and Italy together (to the nearest 1,000)?
  104,000   840,000   1,044,000(12.1*38.6*1000+57.1*10.1*1000000/1000)   8,400,000   10,440,000  
3. What was the net effect on the UK population of the live birth and death rates in 1985?
  Decrease of 66,700   Increase of 84,900( (13.3-11.8)*56.6*1000)   Increase of 85,270   Increase of 752,780   Cannot say  

4. What percentage of the total 15mm button production was classed as sub-standard in September?
  10.5%   13%   15%   17.5%   20%  
  23.5%(85-65)/85   25%   27.5%   28%   30.5%  
5. By how much did the total sales value of November's button production vary from October's?
  ?8.50 (Decrease)   ?42.50 (Decrease)   ?85.00 (Increase)   ?27.50 (Decrease)   No change  
6. What was the loss in potential sales revenue attributable to the production of sub-standard (as opposed to standard) buttons over the 6 month period?  ??
  ?13.75   ?27.50   ?,137.50   ?,280.00   ?,275.00  
Go to Test Two
In this test you have to use facts and figures presented in statistical tables to answer the questions. In each question you are given five answers to choose from. One, and only one, of the options is correct in each case. If necessary use a sheet of rough paper for your working out.
Time Guidelines: see how many questions you can answer in 5 minutes, remembering you should work accurately as well as quickly.
The numerical questions which follow are multiple choice. For each question, you are given several possible answers. When you have selected your answer, click in the appropriate circle.

1. Which newspaper was read by a higher percentage of females than males in 1990?d
  The Tribune   The Herald   Daily News   Daily Echo   The Daily Chronicle  
2. What was the combined readership of the Daily Chronicle, Echo and Tribune in 1981 (in millions)?3.6+1.1+4.8
  10.6   8.4   9.5   12.2   7.8  
3. Which newspaper showed the largest change in female readership between 1981 and 1990?
  Daily Echo   The Tribune   The Herald   The Daily Chronicle   Cannot say  

4. In 1989, how much more than Italy did Germany spend on computer imports?1400-700
  650 million   700 million   750 million   800 million   850 million  
5. If the amount spent on computer imports into the U.K. in 1991 was 20% lower than in 1990, what was spent in 1991?1400*0.8
  1080   1120   1160   1220   1300  
6. Which countries experienced a drop in the value of computers imported from one year to the next?
  France & Italy   France & Holland   Holland & Italy   U.K. & Holland   Italy & U.K.  
  1. Diagrammatic
Diagrammatic Example Questions
The diagrammatic questions which follow are multiple choice. For each question, you are given several possible answers. When you have selected your answer, click in the appropriate circle.
Each problem in this test consists of a series of diagrams, on the left of the page, which follow a logical sequence.  You are to choose the next diagram in the series from the five options on the right.  Then indicate your answer by clicking the appropriate answer.
Time Guidelines: See how many questions you can answer in 5 minutes, remembering you should work accurately as well as quickly.
Diagrammatic Series
1. 5
2. diagram2.gif (577 bytes)  
3. diagram3.gif (1039 bytes) 4
4. diagram4.gif (1242 bytes) 4
5. diagram5.gif (823 bytes) 3
6. diagram6.gif (904 bytes) 2
7. diagram7.gif (750 bytes) 2
8. diagram8.gif (1763 bytes) 5
  1. Personality questioner
What Next
Listed below are some of the SHL aptitude tests which may be available in your college careers advisory service. Some services may also be able to offer you the opportunity to take the SHL advanced occupational interest inventory.
Skills required: General intellectual and academic skills and well as numeracy, communication skills, team working skills
Numerical Reasoning
Verbal Reasoning
Skills required: Mathematical skills, problem solving skills, and knowledge of discipline. Some interpersonal skills necessary for project management
Numerical Reasoning
Diagrammatic Reasoning
Skills required: Numeracy, problem solving, analytical skills, ability to attend to detail. Succinct report writing skills, enquiring mind and some interpersonal skills.
Numerical Reasoning
Verbal Reasoning
Skills required: Logical reasoning, numeracy. Verbal skills in sales and project management jobs. Analysis and problem solving skills are also important.
Diagrammatic Reasoning
Verbal and Numerical
Skills required: verbal reasoning, logical reasoning and the ability to assimilate complex, detailed information quickly and accurately. Methodical work style and ability to meet deadlines are also important.
Verbal Reasoning
Diagrammatic Reasoning
Skills required: Good verbal and numerical reasoning skills. Interpersonal skills are also necessary to inspire, encourage and organise others.
Verbal Reasoning
Numerical Reasoning
Skills required: Logical reasoning and analytical skills as well as knowledge of the telecomms industry
Diagrammatic Reasoning Verbal Reasoning
Numerical Reasoning
Skills required: Analytical skills, numerical skills, problem solving and report writing skills.
Numerical Reasoning Diagrammatic Reasoning
Verbal reasoning for report writing
Skills required: Strong logical reasoning and analysis skills. Verbal skills and communication skills generally
Verbal Reasoning
Numerical Reasoning

What employers are looking for 

Employers often describe jobs in terms of competencies, a combination of ‘behaviours’ that lead to superior performance in a role.  The principal components are:
  • knowledge, skill and experience
  • aptitude – what you are capable of doing
  • style – how you relate to your colleagues, team and organisation
  • motivation – the energy with which you approach a task and the factors that tend to motivate or de-motivate you.
Competencies are rather like a recipe for a meal.  Just as the flavour of the dish can be changed by a subtle change in the ingredients, so the content of a job can change through a subtle change in the number and ‘weight’ of the competencies.
Examples of Competencies:
Specialist Knowledge
Understands technical or professional aspects of work and continually maintains technical knowledge.
Motivates and empowers others in order to reach organisational goals.
Creativity and Innovation
Creates new and imaginative approaches to work-related issues.  Identifies fresh approaches and shows a willingness to question traditional assumptions.
Successfully adapts to changing demands and conditions.
Employers use different assessment methods to try and match the applicant to the role.  As an applicant, you can help by having already carefully considered how well your talents match up to the requirements for successful performance in the job.
There are several dimensions which help to determine how well suited to a job you are:
  • Interest – What you want to do
  • Style – How you like to do it
  • Motivation – Why you do it
  • Ability – Whether or not you can do it
It is important to understand the balance between all four of these aspects in matching people to jobs.

How the assessment process works

Step One has traditionally been by application form or you submitting your CV (and references).  The initial sift will be made on the basis of some straightforward criteria such as experience and qualifications.  There may also be some evaluation of more qualitative information on the forms
Step Two is usually to ask those people shortlisted to attend interviews and sit some ability tests.  However, at this point there could be any of the following:
  • Personality & Motivation Questionnaire
  • Interest Inventories
  • Assessment Centres
  • Simulation Exercises
Again, the numbers of candidates getting through the round will drop significantly.  For some jobs in some companies, this will be the final stage.
Step Three.  There may be a second interview to check final details.
For information on how to prepare for an assessment process, see Hints and Tips.

Hints and Tips

Before Applying
Spend some time carefully evaluating whether or not it’s worth your spending a lot of time and effort on each application.
  • Consider how well your ability, interest, motivation, and style suit a particular job.
  • Think about the company culture – could you see yourself as a part of that organisation?
  • Do you think you have a realistic chance of getting the job?
When Applying
  • Apply in the format the company asks for: application forms or CV’s.
  • Follow the instructions carefully.
    • Include any information specifically asked for.
    • Make sure it’s easy to read (have they asked you to type or use block capitals?  Do you need to use black ink?)
    • Make sure you have answered every question.
  • Think about your objectives.  Make sure you’re familiar with the responsibilities and conditions of the post you’re applying for, and some background information about the company.
  • Make your achievements and skills clear (this is not a place for modesty).
  • Know yourself; draw up a list of your strengths and weaknesses in relation to the job.
  • Ensure that you can describe yourself and your experiences in and out of work – be prepared to give examples of particular skills.
 Before the Assessment
  • You may wish to do some preparation.
    • Get the feel for the assessments you’re going to do – read up on the methods of assessment.
    • It may be helpful to be up-to-date with current affairs, so listen to the news.
    • Reading a newspaper will also help you to practice taking in written information.
    • Crosswords are useful for practising verbal critical reasoning, and number puzzles for numerical critical reasoning.
    • If you are likely to be presented with numerical data to analyse, it’s worth reminding yourself how to do basic calculations such as percentages.
    • Think about how you work in a group; be aware of how loud and fast you speak, how much eye contact you have with others, and how often you ask for others’ opinions.
    • If you’re being interviewed it’s worth thinking of examples of times when you’ve displayed important attributes.
  • Stay calm; make sure all practical arrangements are clear so that you do not arrive feeling flustered or unprepared.
  • If you feel nervous, try breathing deeply to help yourself calm down.
  • Make sure you bring with you anything you might need during the day, such as reading glasses or an inhaler.  You may want to bring a watch in order to keep track of time during exercises.
  • If you have any special requirements, contact the assessor in advance to discuss the best ways to meet your needs.
During the Assessment
  • Listen carefully to the instructions you are given, and ask if you are unsure about what you have to do.  Assessors will be looking to see how you perform on the exercises themselves, rather than how well you understand the instructions.
  • Be alert and aware throughout the assessment.  Recognise your non-verbal signals such as eye contact, facial expression, and gestures.
  • Don’t make assumptions about the way you should respond.  If you try and guess what the assessors are looking for, you may be wrong.  It is usually best to be yourself, and respond honestly.  Remember that it’s not in your interest to get a job to which you are not well suited.
  • If there is more than one exercise, you will have plenty of opportunities to show what you can do.  If you feel you have done poorly on one exercise, don’t give up; your performance on all of them will be taken into account.
After the Assessment
  • Being assessed is often challenging and you should expect to feel fairly stretched by the end of the assessment, particularly if there have been multiple exercises.
  • Try not to judge you own performance in relation to the other participants’.  You should be assessed on your own merits.  Similarly, try not to let other participants intimidate you or make you anxious.
  • Many organisations will offer you feedback, regardless of whether or not you are successful.  This may give you an insight into your strengths and limitations, and may prove useful for future selection procedures; so if feedback is not offered, ask if it is available.

Applications forms

Applications forms give all candidates the same opportunity to provide some specific information about themselves.  Most forms ask for some biographical details, e.g.
  • name
  • address
  • educational history
  • work experience
Some may also ask about
  • leisure interests
  • career aims
Some of the more detailed forms may ask questions asking you to describe occasions when you demonstrated particular skills which are relevant for the job: e.g. Describe an occasion when you worked as part of a team.  What did you contribute to the group?  What was the outcome?
Some application forms may include sections which ask you about your motivation, your competence or your preferred style of behaving at work in a short questionnaire format.
The level of detail required on application forms varies enormously, from a basic biographical information checklist, to very precise questions wanting long written or typed answers.
It’s worth checking how each form is supposed to be filled in.
  • Most forms require you to write in dark ink for ease of photocopying.
  • Many request that you type or write in capitals to make them easier to read.
  • Some forms will be computer scanned, in which case you must fill in circles or boxes carefully.


Interest Inventories
Interest Inventories assess your personal preference or liking for specific types of job related activities in a wide range of occupations, for example, if you like working with sick people, or if you’re interested in working outdoors.  Inventories have been designed to cover a whole range of age, experience and occupations.
Personality Questionnaires
Personality Questionnaires look at behavioural style, how individuals like to work.  They are not concerned with your abilities, but how you see yourself in terms of your personality, for example; the way you relate to others, and your feelings and emotions.
There are no rights and wrongs in style, although some styles may be more or less appropriate to certain situations.
It is becoming more common for employers to look at style in the recruitment process.  It can help plan development programs and to place people within groups.
Motivation Questionnaires
Motivation questionnaires look at the factors that drive you to perform well at work.  Areas which may be considered include; the energy with which you approach tasks, how long and under what circumstances effort will be maintained, and those situations which increase and decrease motivation.
Motivation is a dimension of a person-job fit which is most often used in development situations once you are in a job, but it may also be used (although less commonly) in recruitment.
Ability Tests
Ability tests look at the extent to which you are able to carry out various aspects of a job.  Ability tests look at a variety of skills with varying levels of difficulty.
Often employers are interested in your potential to do a task.  In this case, they may not use assessment methods that aim to simulate aspects of that task.  Alternatively, they may choose to assess more generic skills, like interpersonal communication or making decisions on the basis of written information, which will predict how well you may do the task.
Apart from Ability Tests, there are lots of ways in which employers might try to assess ability in selection procedures:
Employers may be looking for particular abilities or skills which they expect you to have already.  These might be quite specific, such as using a particular programming language, or knowing when to use different types of equation.  These kinds of skills are likely to have been gained during your education or work experience, and so employers may consider them by using:
Simulation Exercises
Simulation exercises are designed to imitate a particular task or skill needed for the target job.
It is clear what kinds of skills are being assessed.
Although they may be taxing, simulation exercises are often enjoyable to do. The tasks and skills that may be assessed using simulation exercises are varied, so there is considerable variation in the kinds of materials, scenarios and other people involved from exercise to exercise. Different types of simulation exercise include:
  • in-trays
  • tests of productive thinking
  • group exercises
  • presentations
  • fact-finding exercises 
  • role plays
In-trays or in-baskets involve working from the contents of a manager’s in-tray, which typically consists of letters, memos and background information. You may be asked to deal with paperwork and make decisions, balancing the volume of work against a tight schedule.
For example: You are asked to take over the role of Public Relations Manager of a company who is organizing a stand at an exhibition. Your tasks are based around organizing the stand, touching on issues such as personnel, finance and marketing.
Tests of Productive Thinking
These tests look at the volume, diversity and originality of your ideas. You are presented with open-ended questions relating to various problems and situations, and are asked to generate responses within a time limit.
For example: You are given a scenario in which shop floor workers in a factory have expressed low job satisfaction, and staff turnover is high. You are asked to generate as many ideas as you can of ways to increase staff morale within a limited budget.
Group Exercises
Group exercises are timed discussions, where a group of participants work together to tackle a work-related problem. Sometimes you are given a particular role within a team, for example the sales manager or personnel manager. Other times there will be no roles allocated. You are observed by assessors, who are not looking for right or wrong answers, but for how you interact with your colleagues in the team.
For example: You role-play a member of the marketing team for a pharmaceutical company. The team is required to discuss the launch of a new consumer product, covering issues such as advertising, ethical concerns, packaging and pricing.

You may be required to make a formal presentation to a number of assessors. In some cases this will mean preparing a presentation in advance on a given topic. In other cases, you may be asked to interpret and analyze given information, and present a case to support a decision.
For example: You are asked to make a decision about the proposed relocation of the head office of an electronics equipment manufacturer. You present your recommendations, fully explaining the reasoning, and are then questioned by the assessor about your decision.
Fact-finding Exercises
In a fact-finding exercise, you may be asked to reach a decision starting from only partial knowledge. Your task is to decide what additional information you need to make the decision, and sometimes also to question the assessor to obtain this information.
For example: You take on the role of a Regional Manager in a holiday company, dealing with a customer complaint. You are asked to decide what further information you need in order to reach a decision, and have a time limit in which you can question the assessor to obtain this information, before presenting your fully reasoned argument.
Role Plays
In a role play, you are given a particular role to assume for a certain task. The task will involve dealing with a role player in a certain way, and there will be an assessor watching the role play.
For example: You take on the role of a new manager in a brewery, and as part of your induction program, you are required to have a meeting/phone call with a client whose account is going to be your special responsibility to manage. You need to introduce yourself and find out if the client has any issues which need sorting out. If there are, you need to explain to the client what you are going to do about them.
Assessment Centres
These are not a place, but a process often known as a multi-method approach where;
  • Several candidates will be present (typically 6-12).
  • You are assessed against a number of job dimensions, competencies.
  • By several assessors.
  • Using multiple methods of assessment, including
    - ability tests
    - personality and motivation questionnaires
    - simulation exercises
    - interviews
Some exercises will involve other candidates, and there may be some you do on your own.
You should be told in advance what kind of exercises you will be doing and if you need to prepare anything beforehand. There are many advantages associated with the use of Assessment Centres.
They provide a more comprehensive overview of your strengths and limitations than any single method.
They are standardised, so every candidate has the same opportunities to demonstrate their skills.
They are more objective than interviews alone which may be biased by the interviewers’ interpretations.
They allow you to show a range of abilities in a variety of different situations; your performance on all the different exercises is taken into account.


  • give both candidate and employer a chance to meet face to face
  • allow you to question them as well as vice versa
  • rely on the interviewer’s accurate recording and interpretation of your accounts of the details you provide; and so may be subjective.
Whatever the type of interview, interviewers will probably take notes as the interview goes along, you will usually be given an opportunity to ask questions at the end and you will need to be prepared to talk about past and present experiences.
Competency Based Interviews
  • Focus on particular areas of competence which are important to a job.
  • Are clearly related to the job in question.
  • The questions will relate to particular abilities or styles, e.g. “Tell me about the time when you had to meet a tight deadline.  How did you cope?  What was the outcome?”
  • You will need to come up with lots of examples of situations, from your work experience, leisure activities or home life.
  • Will probably feel like hard work!
Biographical Interviews
  • The most traditional format.
  • Focus on the kind of information you might put on a CV, e.g.
    - Work experience
    - Educational background
    - Leisure interests
    - Circumstances (e.g. the kind of working hours/conditions you can manage)
    - Health
    - Aspirations
  • Look at what you have done in the past
  • The link between the questions and the job you’re applying for may not be apparent.
Situational Interviews
  • Questions ask you to imagine yourself in given hypothetical situation and ask what you would do.
  • The situations may be taken directly from the job in questions or may be more general.

Simulation Exercises

Simulation exercises reproduce real life workplace scenarios and are used to assess demonstrable competencies required for successful job performance. They are often assessed in Assessment or Development Centres.

The basics

Simulation exercises highlight the strengths and development needs of a candidate in a highly visible way and can be applied for selection purposes, promotion or development. 
Competencies such as Persuasiveness, Team Working, Innovation, Action Orientation and Decision Making can be difficult to directly assess without simulation exercises.  It is when these (and other) competencies are of critical importance that simulation exercises can add most value.
SHL provides a variety of simulation exercises to suit different job levels and contexts, including:
  • In-trays
  • Group exercises
  • Analysis presentations
  • Fact finding exercises
  • Role-plays