Most investment banks, consultancy and auditing firms, and even some private equity funds will start their interview process with a numerical test that can either be taken online or that the company’s premises. While many candidates are confident in their numerical skills, as much as 80% of the candidates fail to pass some of those tests.
You need to understand that these institutions receive thousands of applicants for 1 specific position. They need a way to select people. Tests are the “best/easiest” way to do so. Given the competitiveness of the recruitment processes, 1 question answered right may allow you to make the cut!
Here are some recommendations, but the main piece of advice is PREPARE (>you can find some practice tests here<):
Review your basics
While the math level required is not extremely high, everything is about speed. Make sure you are extra comfortable with fractions, percentages, ratios, inflation rates, power laws, basic geometry concepts, etc. Even if it seems easy, it does not hurt to review things you learn a couple of years ago. Again it’s a speed game!
You are often allowed to use a calculator
Make sure you practice with the calculator you will use on the D-day. If you need to take the tests at the Company’s office, you will probably be given a very simple one. Try to practice with a basic calculator. It would be quite stupid to loose time on figuring out how to use your calculator.
Some questions are designed to confuse you (to test your attention to details)
Some questions can be tricky. It’s a multiple choices, and some questions may have solutions that are very close to the correct answer, or include some solutions that represent the most common calculation mistakes that can be made. For example mixing units (kg with g), confusing different different charts on a graph, etc. So make sure that you are 100% confident in your answer and have a rapid double check before submitting it.
The different type of tests
There are 3 main providers of online tests (to companies): CEB-SHL, Kenexa and Talent Q. Online tests can be divided in 3 key categories: numerical, verbal and abstract reasoning tests.
Companies usually use a numerical and verbal reasoning test in their recruitment process. Tests from CEB-SHL and Kenexa are roughly similar. If you need more information, >visit this page<.
Manage your time
When you take a test, you should have in mind the allocated time per question. It’s imperative that you finish the test! If you run out of time, answer questions randomly (if you are sure you do not score negative points with a wrong answer) – at least, you may hit the right one!