How to answer interview assessment questions, with tips

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 5 September 2022 | Published 30 November 2021

Updated 5 September 2022

Published 30 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When you're going through a job application process, there are several stages that you go through before getting the role. This includes traditional steps like interviews and background checks, but the addition of assessment questions is becoming more common. These can determine how ready you are for a job and whether a company is likely to hire you or not. In this article, we provide more advice on what assessment questions are and how you can answer them in a way that impresses your future employer.

What are interview assessment questions?

Interview assessment questions, sometimes known as talent assessment questions, allow employers to test how suitable a candidate is for a specific role. They uncover more about your work history and personal attributes and determine if you have the relevant qualifications for the position. One of the key benefits of this type of test for employers is to learn key information about applicants without bringing them in for interviews. Interviews can be a timely process that pulls an employee, often a senior member of management, away from their usual duties.

By comparison, interview assessment questions collect the required information without affecting the day-to-day running of the workplace. Typically, candidates fill out these questions digitally, often on an online platform rather than on business premises. This makes the process simple for everyone involved, removing unsuitable candidates from the process quickly. If a company can see that someone isn't suitable for their culture and may treat customers poorly early on, this saves both the candidate's and interviewer's time.

Related: What is a skills assessment test and how is it used?

What are employers looking for with interview assessments?

Companies often give assessment questions to candidates to find out their ability to perform within a job. Here are a few of the attributes that an employer may be looking for when offering such questions:

Problem-solving abilities

In any workplace, you're likely to come across complex problems. These might involve different levels of management, difficult customers or a situation that could lead to a risk to somebody's safety. Often based on potential real-life scenarios, your prospective employer is looking to learn more about how you solve problems. These questions can come in the form of multiple choice answers. You may also come across a question in an interview assessment with a text box where you further elaborate on the problem-solving process, in this case, write out an example of when you solved a problem with the outcome.

Related: Problem-solving skills: definitions and examples

Existing industry knowledge and abilities

In some specialised industries, you may require an existing knowledge of the role. It can be difficult to learn about a new industry from scratch, and many employers look for transferable skills. These questions often come in a basic exam format. You get a selection of questions about the workplace, whether these focus on hygiene procedures in food preparation areas or how to use equipment in a more industrial setting.

Depending on the role, this may not stop a newcomer from being hired, it simply gives the employer more information on how much training a recruit needs. These questions tend to be open-ended text boxes.

Related: Examples of closed questions in interviews (with answers)

Consistency

An extended set of interview assessment questions not only provides employers with a range of information about the candidate but can be an excellent way of finding out how consistent an applicant is in their behaviour. For example, some applicants might not be honest about their actions to get further into the application process.

Including more questions means that an employer can find inconsistencies and be warier when dealing with those people. This approach is less likely to be successful when using a multiple-choice questionnaire. This is because the nature of multiple-choice limits applicants in their answers and often leads to similar responses.

Customer service skills

Job application processes for customer-facing roles typically involve a series of assessment questions. Employers use these questions to establish how you might respond when you face difficult customers, as you inevitably can during your tenure at any company. Customer service skills are sought after, so these are important questions for you to answer correctly. These questions often come in the form of multiple-choice questions. This is because it is difficult to summarise the actions you would take in the presented scenarios, making it far more difficult for human resources workers to establish how effective a candidate would be.

Related: Interview question: 'What is good customer service to you?'

Quick-thinking

Some interview assessment questions have a time limit in which applicants answer. In this case, an employer is looking to see which candidates can make the right decisions within tight time constraints. These questions are typically about industries that have increasingly tight deadlines, in which there is little time to consider all potential outcomes of a decision. If a company is seeking an employee with effective instincts, they often look for this in their experience.

Related: What is an informed decision? (Including how to make one)

How to answer assessment questions

Approaching assessment questions in the right way is key. This is because, like any other stage of the application process, failing at this stage leaves you without the ability to make any further progress toward filling the job vacancy. There are a few steps you can take to make the most of your assessment questions. They include:

1. Ask questions in advance

Employers devise and design these assessments to achieve different results depending on the workplace. For example, some places may want to learn more about how you fit into the company culture, and some may want to know about your existing competencies. Other companies may want to learn how you react in specific customer-facing situations.

By asking more about the assessment questions, you can get a better idea of the amount of time you have to answer them. You also have the chance to build an understanding of what they expect of you, so you're more aware of the type of questions that await you in the assessment. All of this information can offer you a significant advantage over candidates who may not have asked for this information.

Related: Questions to ask at an interview

2. Be prepared

As with any exam or test, employers may link your performance to the level of preparation that you undertake. For competency-based tests, read about the practical process the company uses, like their operating systems. When completing a personality test, it can be an advantage to consider how you may fit into a company beforehand. Although, you could avoid over-preparing. Giving answers that don't seem natural in open-ended questions may be a red flag to employers who don't think you're genuine and honest. Look to balance your personality with the needs of the question, and you're likely to thrive.

Related: Guide to 10 different assessment centre group exercises

3. Use the elimination method in multiple-choice

Most workplace safety or process-oriented questions are multiple-choice to make processing assessments simpler for the employer. This can also be an advantage to the applicant, as it allows you to use the elimination process in questions where you're less confident of the answer. The elimination process works by removing outlandish answers and leaving either the correct answer or a likely alternative. By removing incorrect answers from the process, you can make it far simpler to focus on only those with the potential to be correct.

Example: When preparing food, what process must you go through when transferring between raw and cooked stations?

A: Walk to the other station and start to work.

B: Wash your hands, put on the appropriate PPE and ensure no cross-contamination before working.

C: Change to the appropriate PPE and start to work. In this case, eliminate answer A as it has no hygienic process and eliminates C because there's no mention of washing hands.

This leaves answer B as the correct option.

When can you expect to learn the results of your assessment?

The majority of employers won't let you know the exact score that you've received in your assessment. This is so you can't repeatedly apply for a job and tweak your answers until getting an interview. You may be able to ask for some feedback later on in the process, but you're likely to learn if you were successful in your assessment based on whether or not they offer a job interview. It can be helpful to ask for feedback if you are applying to multiple jobs, as the comments could help you with another application.

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