What is an SHL Test?

SHL is a leading brand of psychometric tests which is employed by a wide range of companies as a part of the recruitment process, particularly in graduate recruitment campaigns where a certain level of competence is required to progress through the selection process. They are widely used for their efficiency and cost-effectiveness in testing for a minimum level of technical ability within a specific role. The various types of SHL assessment are intended to measure and assess an individual’s level of ability in a given competency relevant to the position for which the test is being administered.

How Do SHL Tests Work?

The SHL assessment process usually consists of one or two stages.

In the latter instance, known as a Verify test, a candidate first electronically completes an unsupervised SHL test, and then a short supervised exam is carried out for the purpose of verifying results.
In the former instance, known as a Management and Graduate Item Bank (MGIB) test, the entire examination is supervised in an assessment/testing center, either online or on paper.

The test itself comprises of a number of questions to be answered within a challenging time limit. This is intended to maximize pressure as the purpose of the test is to gauge a candidate’s true potential. While the questions tend to be displayed one at a time, one can move back and forth through questions as desired and answer in any order they see fit.

SHL tests are a means of estimating one’s maximum ability level. The application of difficult questions within a challenging time limit effectively gauges the potential of a candidate and then compares it to the average level of a ‘norm’ group, which is usually made up of individuals from a similar demographic in factors such as age, nationality and education level.
The candidate’s ability is calculated against the norm group as a benchmark, and then a predefined cut-off point is applied to check that results meet the minimum ability requirements for the job role/department function

What Kind of SHL Tests Are There?

There is a wide range of SHL tests available to employers for the assessment of candidates at a variety of levels. The test administered is chosen to match the job level and field in which the candidate is applying. Some jobs may require the undertaking of an SHL verbal reasoning test, while others might involve an SHL numerical reasoning test; it is entirely contingent upon the nature of the job. It is also quite common for employers to administer a combination of tests in order to assess multiple attributes.

The available range of SHL tests are formulated for the assessment of four main categories:Aptitude, Behavior, Personality and Situational Judgment:


Aptitude: Also known as reasoning or cognitive ability tests. These include but are not limited to SHL numerical tests, verbal reasoning tests and inductive reasoning tests. These tests are intended to measure a candidate’s understanding and comprehension of a variety of challenging stimuli. These tests are, essentially, an assessment of one’s logical capacity in a variety of applications.


Behavioral: Frequently utilized in the hiring process, these tests are used to gain an insight into a candidate’s professional attributes and how well they fit the core values of the company, as well as how well one would handle the responsibilities of the position being applied for and unexpected situations which might arise in said position.


Personality: SHL personality tests assess 32 personality characteristics. In this form of test, a number of statements are provided, and the candidate is required to choose which statements align best and which align worst with their own personality. In this instance, there is no binary right or wrong response; multiple statements may appear to describe the ‘correct’ behavior. This is intended to pinpoint the characteristic traits displayed by the candidate and ensure that they are capable of handling the job.


Situational Judgment: These tests are used as a metric of a candidate’s cognitive and behavioral abilities in applied scenarios; realistic situations relevant to the job role are presented hypothetically so that the candidate responds spontaneously based on intuition. While one would, of course, take the time to consider decisions more carefully before execution, situational judgment tests are a powerful tool for assessing the manner in which a candidate would handle challenges which might arise in the workplace. It is highly recommended that one familiarizes oneself with the types of situations that might be presented in this assessment in order to be able to consistently select the most appropriate answer.

How Can I Prepare For an SHL Test?

SHL Tests are intended as a metric of your maximum level of performance. As the questions are difficult and the time limit is challenging, you need to be able to work quickly and accurately.

The key to this is that you put yourself in a position where you understand the format of the test, the manner of questions to expect and the conditions under which the test will be administered. By familiarising yourself with these core elements of the test you will be in an optimal position for success in these tests. The key to success is practice. If you need to take an SHL test, it is recommended that you take a number of SHL practice tests so that you may be more confident and comfortable in approaching the assessment.

Last Thoughts:

While SHL tests cover a wide range of assessments, the best means of preparation is invariably practice. If you are required to take an SHL test for a prospective job, make sure that you take the time to familiarize yourself with the format of the test so that you may be appropriately prepared for the conditions under which the test is administered and maximize your performance.