Companies always want to make sure they hire the best and most qualified job applicants. To achieve this objective, some companies include aptitude and skills tests with their employment paperwork. The purpose of a skills test, according to Employee Selection and Development, is to verify that applicants can complete the tasks necessary for the job and that the employer can spend less money training the person in basic skills. Mathematical skills are among those commonly tested.
Basic math comprises addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, ratios, percentages, decimals and fractions. Let's face it: sometimes the computer is down and the calculator is not available. Businesses want employees who can come up with answers to simple math problems.
Can you add a column of numbers? Can you subtract the purchase amount from the cash the customer handed you and give her back the correct change? Such questions are important in some business environments. Tests on math skills are often speed-intensive, and calculators are not allowed.
Number Sequencing and Data Checking
Can you look at a sequence of numbers and choose which of four choices is the next number in the sequence? Can you look at a column of numbers and estimate the correct answer? These kinds of math questions ask you to make logical assumptions or guesses. These questions may appear on speed tests, and estimating can help you speed through them, as you might need to do in a busy workplace.
Interpreting Charts and Graphs
Numerical reasoning requires you to take the mathematical information provided and make decisions and analyses based on that information. If you look at a sales bar graph, can you determine whether a department is doing an adequate job of meeting company goals? Can you predict inventory needs on seasonal items by looking at information from previous years' sales? Can you look at the number and kinds of errors coming out of a department for the last several months and target training that will help reduce those errors? While several of these questions are management-level, even lower-level jobs may need to interpret information and set goals and priorities.
Number problems test not only your math skills, but also your reading and reasoning abilities. These problems may require multiple steps and skills to successfully complete. For example: "Your department needs pens. Item A is a box of 12 pens selling for £10.70. Item B sells 3 packs for £2.90, with £6.50 off if you purchase a case of 12 packs. Item C sells a case of 36 for £33.1. Item D sells a box of 12 pens for £11.40, with a 10 per cent discount if you purchase three or more boxes. You need 36 pens. Which option is the most economical?" You must determine the cost per item, less any available discounts. The answer, by the way, is B, with a cost of 70p per pen.