How to Prepare for Skills or Subject Matter Tests

January 6, 2013 Posted by Vijay Ingam

Lately, I’ve had a few clients who expressed concerns about skills or subject matter tests during an interview. I thought I’d create a blog entry about the topic to help. I’ve also added the information below to The Definitive Guide on How to Ace Your Interview and Get the Job.

Sometimes employers will give you skills or subject matter tests to assess your knowledge of the software programs and other skills or knowledge you need for the position. They will usually warn you ahead of time so you can be prepared for such testing. Sometimes an employer will use testing software that is designed to assess your skills and knowledge. Other times they will ask you to demonstrate your ability to do a few common functions on a computer program or answer a few questions about a specific subject.

The best way to prepare for a skills test is to know the subject or computer program you are being tested on but be aware that sometimes skills tests can be on aspects of a subject or computer program that you do not use regularly. Interview SOS suggests the following preparations:

Tests on Microsoft Office Applications (Microsoft Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Access, or Outlook)

Before taking a skills test on a Microsoft Office program, we suggest you use the Professor Teaches Office 2010 from Individual Software. It’s a great program that shows you how to usethe  most basic functions on each of the major programs of the Microsoft Office Suite. Expect to spend 3-4 hours learning the basic functions for each program. We suggest doing both the basic and advanced lessons for each office program prior to a skills test.

Typing Tests

We suggest using either Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing or Typing Instructor before taking a test to improve your typing skills. Depending on your current typing skills and those required for the position, you should anticipate spending 10-40 hours learning to type well if you don’t have the skill already.

Accounting Software

To prepare for tests on accounting software such as Sage Peachtree, we suggest using Mastering Peachtree Made Easy Training Tutorial. To learn QuickBooks, we suggest Mastering QuickBooks Made Easy v. 2013 Video Training Tutorial Course DVD-ROM .

Subject Tests

If you anticipate a subject test on something like financial accounting or nursing, we suggest spending a few hours reviewing a respected textbook on the subject even if you feel you are already knowledgeable.

About Vijay Ingam

Vijay is an experienced financial analyst, career coach and hiring manager, who was disappointed with the interview skills of many job applicants, even those from top-ranked business schools.

In 2009, Vijay began offering personalized interview coaching, resume and cover letter writing services in Los Angeles. Vijay’s services were unique because insisted that clients participate actively in the writing and editing process to ensure that resumes and cover letters accurately reflected client’s experience, skills and strengths. He encouraged his clients to prepare and rehearse their answers to common job interview questions prior to any job interview. After helping a friend in China prepare for a job interview in 2010, Vijay realized that he could offer personalized job interview coaching services anywhere in the world using Skype and phone. He subsequently founded Interview SOS.

While attending the UCLA Anderson School of Management in Los Angeles, Vijay was a career coach for the Parker Career Management Center (the school’s MBA-level career counseling service) who helped other students to prepare for job interviews, write resumes and draft cover letters. For four years prior to business school, Vijay acted as a Boston-area diversity recruiter and interviewer for the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity Career Program.

Vijay has his undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Chicago and an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management in Los Angeles, California. He is a National Merit Scholar and CFA charter holder.

Vijay’s sister, Mindy Kaling, is the executive producer, writer and star of the Mindy Project on Fox Television.

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