Preparing for an interview can be a daunting prospect, but a lot of people overlook one important aspect - verbal reasoning tests. These tests often comprise a vital part of the interview process and can be whole other challenge that you've got to face, yet far too few people are prepared for them. This can be a big mistake.
Why verbal reasoning matters?
In most jobs, verbal skills and the ability to communicate effectively will comprise a huge part of the position. Employers need to know that you have these verbal reasoning skills before they'll give you the job, so it's important you know what you're doing. This means that standardised verbal reasoning tests are often an important part of the selection process, and if you don't want to be overlooked it's important that your verbal reasoning skills are up to scratch.
But, it's the tests themselves that can often cause the most difficulty. Even if you've got exceptional verbal reasoning skills the test environment could easily set you back - the nerves of the day combined with the shock of seeing such a test for the first time could conspire against you, and you might find that your score is less than you were expecting. This can be disastrous because you wouldn't want your attempt at getting that job to be thwarted because you simply weren't ready for your verbal reasoning test, and that's why it's incredibly important that you practice beforehand. That's where verbal reasoning practice tests come in.
What will my verbal reasoning test be like?
By far the most common form of verbal reasoning test is one in which you are presented with a passage of text, then asked whether certain statements relating to that text are true, false, or impossible to say without more information. In older verbal tests, rarely used for recruitment nowadays, you would be asked to identify from a list of statements which one is true, given the information in the passage. Some employers also test things such as word meaning, for example "which word is the odd one out". But again, these are rarely used anymore.
What will my verbal reasoning test be testing?
Verbal reasoning tests are designed to test your powers of comprehension and logic. You will be tested on whether you jump to conclusions or you appreciate the limitations of a statement. If a passage says "it has been reported..." it does not follow that the fact is necessarily true, only that it has been reported. Another classic example is: if the lights in a house come on, does that mean there is someone inside the building? Not necessarily. If A is bigger than B, does that mean B is small? Not necessarily. You will be tested to sort fact from inference, a lot like what's required in a real work environment. You can see why lawyers almost always have to pass a verbal reasoning test, or a critical thinking test.
Something which will not be tested by the verbal reasoning tests used by employers is spelling. The employer is trying to gauge your reasoning ability, not your vocabulary or spelling. Recruitment tests are nothing to do with old-fashioned tests such as word association or missing words.
Do I need to be a fast reader?
It helps, but more important than speed is how well you understand what you are reading, and recognising the difference between fact and inference.
Verbal reasoning tests are normally strictly timed. The assessor will get to see how many questions you attempted and how many of those you got right. So you will need to strike a balance between attempting lots of questions and getting them right. For most verbal reasoning tests you will find it difficult to answer all the questions within the time limit. However some tests allow a lot longer and they are all about your analysis and reasoning ability.
If you think you have a condition which requires adjustment to be made to your verbal reasoning test, such as for dyslexia, tell your assessor in good time before your test and they will help make the verbal reasoning tests fair for all candidates. Some test publishers allow extra time, and some give everyone the same time limit but make a judgement on whether to adjust the raw score.