What assessments will I have for IT sponsored degree programmes or higher apprenticeships?
IT employers use a range of online tests and individual assessments to decide who they want to give a place on a higher apprenticeship, degree apprenticeship or sponsored degree programme. These tests vary between companies but we can give you an idea of what to expect.
A typical application process for an apprenticeship at a technology employer may involve: an online application form (or you may be able to upload a CV), online assessment tests, one or more interviews (these might be face-to-face, over the phone, or using a video-call service) and an assessment centre. These application processes can be extensive, but think about each stage as another opportunity to impress technology recruiters.
- Click here for more advice on what you should do to write a cracking school-leaver CV.
- To find out top tips for filling in online application forms, read out advice here.
What types of test are used by IT employers?
IT employers won't be looking to see school leavers who are already 'the complete package' – they will be looking for school leavers who have potential to develop their skills and knowledge and have a passion for technology. For instance, while many applicants may have played around with coding, employers will not expect them to already be fluent in C++ or Python, or to have the same technical knowledge as a graduate would. You will be tested on your potential to be a coder, or any other technical role you are applying for.
As well as an enthusiasm for technology, IT employers usually look for a candidate who have a number of crucial 'soft skills'. Skills that are particularly useful for tech jobs include: logical thinking, analytical skills, problem-solving ability (including being able to solve maths problems), organisation skills and teamwork skills. During an initial application or assessment centre, you are likely to be asked to complete exercises or tests (sometimes called 'psychometric tests'), which are a method of seeing whether you have these skills and assessing your strengths and weaknesses. These exercises might not have strictly 'right' or 'wrong' answers, so it's important you answer the questions honestly.
The different types of assessment test and what they look for include:
- Numerical reasoning – mathematics and the ability to interpret data.
- Verbal reasoning – language skills and the ability to interpret written information.
- Non-verbal reasoning (also known as inductive reasoning or problem solving) – the ability to understand diagrammatic information or recognise patterns.
- Logical reasoning – the ability to use information to form a conclusion.
- Situational judgement – decision making.
- Personality questionnaire – how you usually think and behave.
See our advice on online ability tests for more information and tips on how to pass them.
When will I be tested during my application?
The application process differs from company to company. However, typically you may be asked to complete one or more assessment tests online after submitting your application. You might then be tested further if you are invited to an assessment centre for a day of face-to-face assessments alongside other candidates.
Examples of tests that are used by individual IT employers
BT has previously asked applicants to complete a 'situational strengths test', where you are asked to respond to different scenarios. Applicants' responses are then used to see if they demonstrate BT's core values of 'personal, simple and brilliant'. At BT's graduate assessment centres for technology roles, a virtual reality (VR) exercise is also used to assess candidate's skills – this is alongside more 'traditional' group exercises and face-to-face interviews.
Other large employers have more stages to the selection process. IBM has previously asked you to take online tests if your application is accepted. These tests were designed to assess your logical reasoning and ability to process information quickly. If you passed, you were asked to complete a video interview and successful candidates were invited to an assessment centre for group activities, interviews and presentations, followed by a final interview stage.
Other IT employers hold different tests that are aimed at assessing your strengths and many give details of what to expect on their websites.