A company that doesn’t require an introduction. If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance that you’re using one of Microsoft’s products. With a location in Dublin, Microsoft are always on the lookout for bright, young talent. Graduate routes into the company are split between the following fields: sales, project management, technical, and business consulting.
You’ll need to apply online via the Microsoft Ireland website, and from there you’ll be sent a series of online psychometric tests to complete. These are hugely important – don’t underestimate them!
First off, the Microsoft situational judgement test (SJT). This test comprises questions based on potential scenarios that might happen during a work day at Microsoft. Questions are multiple-choice and are designed to assess how you react to realistic work situations and how you deal with them. Make sure that you spend some time doing SJT practice tests to give yourself the best chance of success in this test
The next step in the application process (remember, this is before anybody from Microsoft will even contact you) is the inductive reasoning test, designed to examine your ability to identify patterns within sets of objects or numbers. The tests are timed (usually 24 questions in 25 minutes) and can be very tricky for applicants who aren’t used to solving the types of problems presented in the test. To give yourself the best chance of success, familiarise yourself with the different types of questions that will come up by practising inductive reasoning tests.
Remember – the online aptitude tests are crucial in order to progress with your application. In most cases, companies won’t look at your CV or online application until you’ve passed the tests.
Another little company that you might have heard of, IBM has three locations in Dublin and have had a presence in Eire since 1956. IBM hire applicants from all kinds of backgrounds, but the application process is similar whether you’re a school leaver or an experienced hire.
Anybody applying to IBM will need to take IBM’s IPAT – an online aptitude test designed to test your logical reasoning abilities – as well as attend assessment centres and interviews. The whole process can take a few months, especially if there are a lot of candidates applying for your position.
The IPAT test is generally regarded as among the hardest tests that any job applicant will come up against in the recruitment process. The test has three sections, but you’ll only be asked to complete two of them.
The numerical series section asks around 20 questions of varying difficulty, which are more challenging than the numerical questions found in most psychometric tests. You will need to identify patterns and then complete the series by filling in the missing numbers. The numerical reasoning test contains 20 numerical problem solving questions, designed to test your maths skills and covers topics such as: basic algebra; ratios; fractions; speed-distance-time; conversions of measurements and weights.
The IPAT is, of course, a timed test, and each question has a time limit of 2.15 minutes. In order to reduce the amount of stress and pressure you’ll feel when taking the test, and thus the amount of mistakes you’ll make, you are strongly recommended to practice the IPAT before taking the real thing. As with any type of test, being familiar with the format of the test, and the types of questions that it will present, will allow you to move faster through the questions without the stress of seeing everything for the first time. Most graduates and experienced hires, even in technical fields, are also no longer familiar with much of the maths that is presented in the IPAT, which is on a pre-university level.
Amazon, officially the world’s largest online retailer, also have a base in Dublin. While there are many different positions within Amazon that you might apply for, there are some generic psychometric tests that are used for almost every applicant.
Once you’ve applied online and passed a phone interview, the next stage for entry into the Amazon graduate programme is a battery of online tests. While some more technical positions may also require other, more specific, types of testing (for example, a Codility coding test) it’s safe to say that all graduates who apply will be sent numerical and verbal reasoning tests to complete.
Amazon use CEB’s SHL numerical reasoning tests are designed to examine applicants’ ability to work with numbers. You’ll be given information in the form of numbers (usually in a graph or table of some kind) and asked to calculate ratios, percentages and more. The tests are timed, and you’ll to work quickly and accurately to score well. The best way to prepare for the Amazon tests is simply to practice them, and make sure that you’re comfortable with all the material and working under time-pressure. Learn more about SHL numerical tests and how to prepare for them here.
However, it doesn’t end there. If you’re applying to the graduate scheme then Amazon will also require you to complete an SHL verbal reasoning test. Timing for these tests is tight, with each question usually being allocated less than a minute, or around two minutes to read a text and answer a set of four questions. Verbal reasoning tests are supposed to check your ability to use and understand language, so many questions take the form of a premise and a true/false/cannot say option – testing whether you are able to quickly read a text and draw accurate conclusions. As with anything in life, practice makes perfect. Learn how to speed up your reading and beat SHL-style tests by practising here.
Having relocated to Dublin from Bermuda back in 2009, Accenture can now be considered to be an Irish company. Well, kind of. Although not a hi-tech firm per se, Accenture’s technology services division is enormous and they’re always keen to hire new talent. We’ll tackle the main stages of the recruitment process the client delivery programme, the software engineering programme, and the market consulting programme.
The online application form is fairly standard – you’ll need to complete your personal information, upload your CV, and answer some competency questions. Be sure to include the key competencies and Accenture values in your answers. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be contacted by email and (guess what?) asked to complete psychometric tests.
The Accenture situational judgement test (SJT) is a 20 minute test supplied by CEB’s SHL. As with most SJT’s, you’ll be presented with a potential workplace scenario and need to choose from three options as to how you would deal with the given scenario. Before taking any SJT it’s important to understand what the assessors are looking for – make sure that you’re fully prepared and practice online.
Applicants for the client delivery programme will face a deductive reasoning test as part of their application. These tests examine your logical skills and ability draw conclusions based on a given rule. You’ll need to answer 20 questions in just 19 minutes, so time is very much of the essence. To really excel in deductive reasoning tests you are strongly recommended to spend time practising beforehand, and learn the correct strategies for approaching the common problems that you’ll need to solve.
If you’ve been successful at the psychometric tests and your subsequent interview went well then you’ll find yourself heading to a half-day assessment centre at Accenture’s office (note that this element does not apply to candidates in the technology stream). Candidates who make it to this final stage of the selection process are likely tested through a combination of case studies, in-tray exercises and group exercises.
The ‘client and marketing consultant analytical exercise’ (aka a case study exercise is a 25 minute exercise which, more than anything else, tests your ability to operate under time constraints. You will receive a booklet containing a set of data and will need to answer five questions on the data, which is made up of statistics, graphs and text. You can present your answers in an informal, bullet point fashion. It’s best to be familiar with this type of test and strategies for quickly extracting the relevant information and making correct analyses, rather than going in cold which can be a recipe for disaster. Use case study practice packs to sharpen your skills.
Another assessment centre favourite is the in-tray exercise. This is a 30 minute test which sets out to examine your time management, prioritisation, managerial and problem solving abilities. You’ll be provided with a fictitious company report, which describes some kind of issue, or perhaps several. Your task is to prioritise the most pertinent issue and come up with a solution, which you will explain in an email to your superior. As with case study exercises, anybody who practices and knows exactly what to expect going in will have an advantage over the competition. Improve the skills you’ll need for success, and learn some useful tips for managing in-tray exercises, with practice in-tray tests.
At some stage during the assessment centre you’ll also need to take part in a group exercise. Working in small teams, you will be assigned tasks to work on before presenting to an assessor. It’s important here to demonstrate that you can work well in a team environment, while demonstrating innovative ideas and strong time management skills.
The last stage in the recruitment process for all candidates is the final interview. The interview will normally last 10-15 minute and is done either by a representative from HR or a senior manager. The questions would normally focus on how the assessment day went (for client delivery and consulting applicants) and standard competency questions. The best method for answering competency questions is always the STAR method. If you’ve made it this far you’ve done well – good luck!