SHL Assessments

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SHL Style Aptitude Tests

What are SHL Tests?

SHL (Saville & Holdsworth Ltd) is one of the largest and most popular talent assessment providers in the industry. Part of CEB's talent management services, SHL is trusted by employers to effectively identify top talent during the hiring process.

Its targeted candidate assessments assist recruitment teams in streamlining large applicant pools and assess key competencies and behavioural attributes. SHL publishes tests to evaluate candidates across a wide range of subjects from numerical, verbal, deductive, and mechanical reasoning, to personality, motivation, and behavioural preference.

The company has over 40 years' experience in talent management solutions, operates across 150 countries, and publishes tests in over 40 languages.

SHL tests are online, immersive assessments. They can be taken on any device, including your mobile phone. All tests are multiple-choice and most must be completed within a given time limit, which varies according to the test type.


What are the Different Types of SHL Tests?

SHL provides psychometric tests across three areas - cognitive , personality , and behavioural assessments. You may encounter a series of tests selected from these assessment areas during a recruitment process, as prospective employers seek to obtain a rounded picture of your potential and suitability for the job role.

The tests you are set will be relevant to the responsibilities of the role and tailored to the company's culture and organisational values.

We'll explore each of the assessment areas, and their respective tests, in greater detail below.

Cognitive Ability Tests

To give employers the insights they need to make informed and objective hiring decisions, SHL publishes eight different cognitive ability tests. They are known as the 'Verify' series. Depending upon the role you are applying for, you may encounter one or more of these assessments.

Verify Numerical Ability Test

The SHL Numerical Ability Test assesses your ability to handle numbers in different situations. The questions feature numerical calculations, present mathematical word problems, and require the analysis and interpretation of numerical data.

This data will be presented in charts, graphs, and tables, and will be relevant to the sector and/or role you are hoping to secure.

The test has 10 questions and must be completed in 18 minutes.

Verify Inductive Reasoning Test

The Inductive Reasoning Test presents questions involving a sequence of figures composed of shapes and symbols. You'll be asked to analyse each sequence presented, decipher the relationships between the figures, draw inferences to identify the rules governing the pattern, and select the correct next figure in the sequence.

There are 15 questions on the test, to be answered in 18 minutes.

This type of test may also be referred to as a logical, spatial, or abstract reasoning test. It is also closely related to diagrammatic reasoning.

Verify Deductive Reasoning Test

SHL's Deductive Reasoning Test assesses your ability to draw logical conclusions, identify lines of argument, and think critically. The test involves reading through information provided in a series of statements and working out which of the multiple-choice options are subsequently true or false.

There are 18 questions , and the time allowance for the test is 20 minutes.

If you progress in the recruitment process, you may be asked to sit a verification test to authenticate your answers.

Verify General Ability Test

The General Ability Test provides insight into your critical reasoning and problem-solving skills, vital for high-quality, effective performance in the role. It is a combined test, measuring numerical, deductive, and inductive ability (as described in the individual test descriptions above).

This means it will involve questions with numbers, shapes, and words – which you'll need to absorb, analyse, interpret, and draw conclusions from.

The general ability test has 30 questions – 10 for each reasoning area. Candidates have a total of 36 minutes to complete the test. All questions will be multiple-choice.

Verify Verbal Ability Test

SHL's Verbal Ability Test is the equivalent of a verbal reasoning test. It measures your capability when it comes to reading comprehension and drawing conclusions from written text. You'll be presented with a series of passages and asked to indicate whether a given statement is 'true', 'false', or if you 'cannot say' in light of the provided information.

Verify Calculation Test

The SHL Calculation Test assesses your ability to rapidly manipulate numbers. You'll need to perform calculations involving addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, percentages, fractions, and ratios. To achieve a high score, you'll need to be confident about the order of operations and be able to quickly identify errors in calculations.

The test gives you 10 minutes to answer 12 questions , so a steady pace is important.

Verify Mechanical Comprehension Test

The SHL Mechanical Comprehension assessment tests your mechanical and electrical knowledge. Questions feature problems involving levers, gears, tools, and circuits. This test is used during the hiring processes of jobs that require these specialised skills.

Verify Checking Test

SHL's Checking Test assesses your ability to compare and verify information quickly and accurately. You'll be presented with a piece of data in one column and asked to match it with data in another column. Most of the other samples will be similar, but not identical, to assess your attention to detail.

Personality Tests

SHL helps employers discover which candidates are a good cultural fit for their organisation through personality testing. You may encounter one of two personality tests when going through the recruitment process – the Occupational Personality Questionnaire or the Motivation Questionnaire. It is unusual to be asked to complete both assessments but, if you are, it is nothing to be concerned about.

SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ)

The SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire assesses role fit and potential future performance. You'll be asked a series of simple questions about your working preferences, to explore your strengths and highlight areas in which you might need more support.

Your responses will create a candidate profile, which will then be analysed in relation to the desired profile for the role.

When answering the questions, keep the core values and culture of your chosen company in mind, alongside the responsibilities of the role and working practices needed to excel.

The test does not have to be completed within a time window, but it should take 20 minutes to finish.

SHL Motivation Questionnaire (MQ)

SHL's Motivation Questionnaire assesses a candidate's motivation to work within a particular role, and to join the company in question. The test will be tailored to your chosen organisation's goals, to better identify candidate fit.

The test profiles company-specific factors (that align employee motivation with performance) across 18 dimensions to create a comprehensive picture of suitability.

The test does not have a set time limit but takes around 20 minutes to complete.

Behavioural Assessments

SHL offers behavioural assessments to help organisations to evaluate whether a candidate is a good fit for both the role and company culture.

Universal Competency Framework (UCF)

The Universal Competency Framework helps employers to get a better understanding of behaviour and gauge the potential of employees to succeed in the role, as it aligns individual behaviours to team or corporate goals. It's not a test, but the framework used to analyse the results of talent assessments.

Bear in mind that if a company uses SHL tests, there's a high likelihood they are also using a competency framework to assess how you meet the requirements for good performance in your chosen role.

Situational Judgement Tests (SJT)

SHL's Situational Judgement Test is designed to assess how candidates handle different situations that may arise in the work environment. You'll be presented with a series of hypothetical scenarios and asked to select the option that most closely resembles the course of action you would take.

The test assesses behavioural preferences and looks for proportionate and professional reactions that indicate a strong behavioural and cultural fit with the company.

To provide accurate insights, the questions will be tailored to the responsibilities of the role and working culture of the organisation.

Realistic Job and Culture Previews

SHL also offers Realistic Job Previews, which are scenario-based quizzes that give candidates a feel for what certain job roles are like in practice.

This form of SHL quiz is encountered in the very early stages of the recruitment process - usually before application – to allow potential applicants to self-assess their fit for the role and company and make an informed decision about applying.

Top Tips to Pass Your SHL Assessments

1. Prepare Using Practice Tests

Use practice assessments to familiarise yourself with the format, style, and content of the different psychometric test types. These practice tests will help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, so you can prioritise your preparation time effectively. Timed practice tests are the best way to get used to the demands of the questions and, the more practice you get, the more confident you'll feel to tackle the official test(s).

2. Pay Attention to Your Pace

The SHL cognitive ability tests are timed so, to achieve a high score and progress in the recruitment process, you'll need to be able to work at the required pace. On average you'll have around 1 minute for each question – some tests give you more time, some less. Make sure to check the pace you need to work at before sitting practice tests, so you can hone your working speed.

3. Review the Job description

SHL's personality and behavioural assessments are tailored tests, specifically designed to gauge alignment to the requirements of a job role. Make sure you revisit the job description and essential/desired criteria for the position before completing a personality questionnaire or situational judgement test, so you can ensure you align your answers with the qualities sought after.

4. Do Your Research on the Company

Take the time to comprehensively research the organisation you are applying to – exploring its structure, mission, values, and culture. Employers will be analysing your alignment with not just the demands of the role, but the culture of the company. SHL tests are designed to specifically assess this against a tailored competency framework, so make sure you have the company knowledge needed to strongly indicate your suitability.


Are SHL tests difficult?

SHL tests can be challenging but, with adequate preparation, you'll feel confident in tackling the assessments. SHL's cognitive ability tests are timed and therefore require speed and accuracy, so you'll need to practice working at the correct pace alongside meeting the demands of the questions.

Can you cheat on an SHL test?

SHL tests are held online and those used as part of the early-stage screening process will be taken from home. They are therefore designed for an unsupervised environment. You should never cheat on an SHL test because verification tests are required later in the recruitment process to corroborate your score.

How long does it take to get SHL results?

The time it takes to receive your test results will depend upon the practices of the company you are applying to. Profiles and performance breakdowns are available to employers upon your completion of the test, but they'll need time to review these results in the context of the cohort and translate them into a decision around your progression in the hiring process.

How long do SHL tests take?

The length of an SHL test varies according to test type. The Calculation Test has a time limit of 10 minutes, the Numerical Ability Test gives you 18 minutes, and the Deductive Reasoning Test has an allowance of 20 minutes. Individual tests last around 20 minutes maximum, whereas combined tests (such as the General Ability Test) last upwards of 30 minutes.


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