Aspiring rail apprentices recently underwent a comprehensive evaluation process designed by OPC business psychologists to showcase their skills through practical exercises simulating real-world scenarios.

In order to expand their existing selection process, a major rail operator approached the OPC to develop two new custom practical assessments. The practical tests would complement online applications, digital assessment tools, and an interview. These new tests allowed a more inclusive and alternative way for some candidates to demonstrate their practical skills and knowledge outside of traditional, school-leavers’ academic performance.

Iffath Ahmed, Business Psychologist and Talent Assessor at the OPC, said, “We really enjoyed creating these new tailor-made practical tests and instruction videos. These types of tests are only offered by a few test distributors. They were specifically designed for roles where daily tasks include numerous active and physical aspects, e.g., apprentice engineers or heavy vehicle mechanics. OPC Assessment develops and offers a wide range of innovative candidate-friendly tests that match the role competencies. We strive to meet our client’s needs quickly and professionally. We’re really pleased with how well these worked.”

The hands-on exercises

Assessors delivered each task’s instructions, monitored candidate’s work, answered questions, and ensured candidate’s safety. No prior technical knowledge or apprenticeship experience was required.

Excellent output

The practical exercises assessed not only technical proficiency but also the ability to meticulously follow instructions. It also measured the use of the correct tool in the right way by candidates and measuring accuracy, all contributing to the delivery of a high-quality end-goal product at the correct specification. To some extent, the exercise also helped to gauge a candidate’s flexibility and resilience in a fast-paced work setting.

The assessors reviewed candidate’s completed outputs at the end of the exercises. Each item/task was thoroughly evaluated for accuracy, completeness, and correct tool usage. Assessors also filled out a scoring form for each candidate based on specific indicators for a successful, quality product and task.

Iffath concluded “Through these practical tests, candidates gained a real insight into the role’s day-to-day activities. When applying for a job, you rarely get to see the reality of it, so this was a real taster and an opportunity for the apprentices to judge whether the career was a suitable fit for them. We don’t always see how applicants interact with materials in other types of assessments, so seeing them in action via a practical tool was great.”

If you think the OPC can help provide innovative solutions for your selection processes, then contact our friendly team.


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