The technical tests that graduate IT employers use
Recruiters vary widely in their approach to testing the technical skills of applicants for graduate IT jobs. Some focus on programming ability or ask technical questions at interview, while others request graduates to sit more general tests to assess their reasoning or numeracy skills. This depends in part on how technical the graduate job in question will be, and whether the employer is more interested in your existing technical skills or your potential to develop them.
Of the 12 technical employers featured in targetjobs.co.uk’s Employer Insights, half do not investigate applicants’ IT skills at all, while only a handful test candidates for all roles on their technical abilities.
IT employers who test graduates’ technical skills
- ARM: candidates have a technical interview, which may include more detailed discussion about work described in the candidate’s application. Candidates may also be asked to work through a problem, or discuss a technical issue requiring some of the knowledge set out in the job specification.
- Tessella: the majority of the ‘second interview’ day is spent writing an example program. Applicants may be asked what programming language they prefer to work with, and allowed to conduct the test in this language, though this depends upon the role in question.
IT employers who prefer psychometric tests
- BT: applicants complete online tests in numerical reasoning and situation-based judgement.
- IBM: applicants complete the company’s own aptitude test, known as IPATO. This is a mathematical skill assessment that can include matrix manipulation, number series and numerical reasoning tests.
- Logica: includes psychometric tests as part of its assessment centres.
- Metaswitch Networks: candidates tackle the sort of logic puzzles typically featured in IQ tests, for example, asking what shape would follow next in a particular sequence. There are also mental arithmetic puzzles and longer essay-type questions that require the use of logic to solve problems. They are then asked to discuss their replies.
- SunGard: has online tests to assess verbal-reasoning and numeracy skills.
IT employers who have different tests for different graduate jobs
- Fidessa: candidates have either an SHL test testing logical reasoning skills or a technical test, depending on how technical the role in question is. Examples of technical tests include writing scripts for particular kinds of connections, locating errors cited by the system, and using C++.
- GCHQ: testing varies depending on the position in question.
Other IT employers
- Alfa (formerly CHP Consulting): does not test applicants’ technical skills or run psychometric tests.
- HP: requires applicants to explain their level of proficiency in a number of programming languages, applications and other technologies (Excel, PowerPoint, Word, Oracle, .Net, SAP, UNIX, C++, Java). However, it does not appear to explicitly test these skills.
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