When it comes to psychometric testing in Israel, Machon Pilat is the name most people think of. This is what it’s like to spend a testing day there.

Machon Pilat

In this guest post, Ari Corman recounts his experience as a candidate in psychometric testing at Machon Pilat (מכון פילת).

After completing excellent interviews, you get a call from your future HR department. You are trying to contain the excitement upon hearing that you’ve been offered the job. But before you can say anything else, you’ve been informed that there is a final step in the application process before a decision can be made: a full day of tests, interviews and group dynamics at Machon Pilat.

What is Machon Pilat?

Machon Pilat (www.pilat.co.il) is a psychometric testing center that is paid by recruiting employers to determine whether you are fit for employment. Pilat has three locations in Israel: Tel Aviv, Haifa and Beersheba. There is a similar company to Pilat that runs a test center in Jerusalem as well.

Many industries will send all prospective employees to Pilat whether you’re applying to be a Bank Teller or Vice President. In fact, if you’re part of a big hire group for major corporations like Amdocs or Migdal Insurance, you will often end up doing the Pilat testing with future co-workers and meet some nice people along the way.

What is Pilat testing you for? To see if you’re “normal”. Companies want to double-check that the person they’re hiring is of decent intelligence, can carry a conversation, knows how to think and can interact with others.

What happens during a typical day of testing

The day at Machon Pilat consists of 4 parts:

1) Questionnaire – 1-2 hours

A long written interview questionnaire with questions about your favorite previous job, expectations for future employment, family descriptions, a brief biography and your strengths/weaknesses. The questions are very straightforward and easy but time-consuming and repetitive.

How to prepare? Try not to forget the name of the company you worked at, or where you live. Also try to remember your parent’s names and your address. I brought my resume with me, just to make the process easier so I didn’t have to scratch my head trying to remember the dates of my previous jobs.

You can request this questionnaire in English when you arrive.

2) Computerized/Paper Tests – 3-4 hours

A series of about 10 different logic, language, math, reading comprehension and common sense tests. These are very straightforward and simple- just stay relaxed and you’ll do fine.

You’ll be asked to read a paragraph and answer some comprehension questions. You’ll be asked to draw a tree and provide a one-line description (inside tip: draw a tree with a good amount of roots and branches). You’ll be asked to do some math, like adding or dividing a series of numbers. You’ll be asked to understand a basic chart or pie graph.

Each test is timed and lasts about 15-30 minutes. You can take the bulk of these tests in English on paper but the Hebrew versions of the tests are shorter and done on a computer.

3) Short Interview – 20 minutes

A piece of cake. You talk for 20 minutes in Hebrew with one of the Pilat employees about your career ambitions, personal background and strengths. You’ll be asked where you see yourself in five years, what you like to do in your free time, etc.

It’s basically just a regurgitation of anything you’ve already been asked on a job interview anywhere else. Keep calm, throw in some jokes and you’re set!

4) Group Dynamics – 1 hour

Also taking place in Hebrew, this is the most famous part of Pilat’s psychometric testing and in my opinion actually quite fun.

You sit in a room with 5 other people and a group facilitator and the whole thing lasts about an hour. The secret to success here is to be yourself, confident, expressive and active, but not overbearing or domineering.

First you’ll go around the circle introducing yourself with each person speaking for 2-3 minutes. Talk about where you’re from, where you’ve worked, where you hope to work, why you like the field you work in, etc.

Afterwards there will typically be 3 different group activities. For example- the group of 5 is given a Lego set and asked to build a bridge. They want to see how you interact with people, if you take a leadership role, how you participate and so on. Be involved in the assignment, give the group ideas and suggestions and be cool.

When it’s all over

Upon completion of the test, you are not given the results- Pilat will send them to your prospective employer. A few days later the HR department will call you and say something like, “You’re hired!” which means that in addition to doing well on your interviews at the job, you did fine at Pilat and proved yourself to be worth hiring.

Remember- don’t worry, be yourself and you’ll do fine.

Update 16/01/09: read the comments below as Devorie, a former Israeli testing agency employee, explains some more points that Ari didn’t or couldn’t know.

If you liked this article, you’ll enjoy How Do You Score on this Human Resources Personality Test?

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--Jacob Share