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

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Devorie

    Great article! I have a few points to add (I’ve got the insider’s scoop, having worked at an Israeli testing agency).

    It’s not completely accurate to say that they just want to know if you’re “normal.” That may be so for a call center or bank teller position, where there are many spots and high turnover. However, when they are looking for one candidate, they want to see who has the strongest leadership skills, motivation, intelligence, etc. It’s important to identify what are the key attributes to success in the job (which you can find out at your prior interviews) and highlight your relevant skills. Sometimes you’ll be invited to a group dynamic (assessment center) where everyone is competing for the same job, and sometimes everyone in the room is vying for a completely different position at a different company. You’ll generally know in advance (or it will become obvious during the session) whether it’s general or specific. Sounds like the writer joined a general group dynamic.

    One issue you did not mention is the element of surprise. The candidate is not told when he will go to an interview, group dynamic, or other activity. You can be interrupted at any point, which is unnerving for many people. If you know to expect that, it’s easier to handle.

    At most centers, you can take a break at any point during the tests, and definitely should do so.

    Be nice to everyone you meet, you never know who is observing you and putting comments in your file. Indeed, your actions are noted from the minute you walk in the door.

    Good luck.

    1. Alexandra


      I just came across this article, and although it’s been around 6 years since you posted this comment, I have many questions about and would love to talk to you if you could share some insights
      Thank you in advance!

  2. Jacob Share

    Devorie, thank you very much for joining in with your valuable insight, completing the picture painted by Ari. I’ve added a mention to the post itself so that people don’t miss what you said.

  3. josh

    More on the group dynamic from my personal experience:

    There were about 7-8 of us in the group session all vying for the same job openings, so not necessarily competing against each other.

    One ‘game’ involved having cards with adjectives placed in the centre of our circle. And we were told to choose one that resembles something personal (can’t remember what). One catch was that there were less cards then people, not evident at the beginning when people were playing cool and slowly thinking about what to pick. When there were only 2-3 left, one girl snatched one off the floor in a sad pathetic effort not to be left empty handed. It was such an obvious character flaw, the psychologist/moderator started the following discussion off asking her to exlplain her actions.

    On the other hand, I was left empty handed and passed the day.

    Just to add something else, a friend of mine doing a similar group dynamic claimed that she more or less kept to herself and certainly didn’t stand out, but it was good enough for her to pass the day as well.

    So I guess in certain sessions they might be looking for leadership, in others, they are looking to weed out the riff-raff.

  4. Pingback: Aliyah Info: Jobs and Testing in Israel | History Of Kabbalah

  5. Robin

    The group dynamics part was very freaky for me..I was the only English speaker, and when we had to do something with decision making, my answers were diametrically opposite of everyone else…I had to use the “I guess it is a cultural difference” so that I didn’t seem to be a moron. (I must have done okay, because I did get a job offer afterwords).

  6. Moshe

    I find this method basically a total harrassment of a applicant for a position.
    look at the person’s experience, knowledge, interview them, talk to previous employers, work comrades, etc.
    the time has come to stop this nonsense: it’s nerve and brain wracking and a total waste of time.
    unless someone is a convicted criminal who served time….
    maybe job applicants should run a pilat type test on potential employers…..

  7. Moshe Egel-tal, CSPP

    I’d like to share an “experience” I had awhile back. (This just further adding to feelings on this – see my comment 7 above) I sent in my CV via email in regard to a job posted on one of the lists I am subscribed to.
    I received a phone call inviting me to come to a session of evaluation to be held in tel-Aviv. they gave me the date, time and address and said everything would be explained there.
    I don’t have a problem working in Tel-Aviv, I have done that for 7 years and know what it entails. sure, I’d rather work in Jerusalem, but I can’t afford to be picky. I had my doubts that anything would come of it, but I decided to try so as to leave no stone unturned.
    When I showed up, the receptionist directed me to another office where the testing was supposed to be – I had to go all the way to the other side of the building, down two flights of stairs, across an underground parking lot and into another building. there was no one to direct me to the room where this evaluation was taking place, no receptionist and no signs. I was waiting around for 10-15 minutes and the people standing around were apparently employed there as they were on computers and on the phone, but none offered help nor asked what I wanted. being polite, I waited. Finally, after 15 minutes, I decided to walk around and try all the doors.
    I finally found the room and the evaluation meeting had started. (already didn’t look too good for me).
    they had 15 people who all applied for the same job. the recruiting company had a coach there and the company (who remained anonymous) had a rep.
    they explained what the job responsibilities and pay were – both non-negotiable.
    they were looking for someone to replace a person they weren’t happy with (who didn’t yet know they were going to be fired) so they asked for discretion (although hard to understand as they didn’t identify themselves)
    they had us each tell a bit about ourselves (not stuff from the CV) and also add something personal about ourselves that no one there knew.
    then we had to say why we are the best candidate.
    then they told us a story that we had 15 minutes to solve as a group and we needed to unanimously agree on the solution. it was a story about us leaving somewhere and a list of supplies we could take with – we were told we had a boat that could fit all of us and all the equipment. we had to rate the equipment from 1 – 15 with 1 being most important and 15 least important. We finished a minute ahead of time. afterwards they asked each person if they contributed. and each person could give tips to anyone in the group.
    the answer was that we didn’t need to rate anything as we had room for everything !
    I figured to stick it out till the end even though i didn’t like the job description – it was a mix of a bunch of different tasks- some secretarial, some bookkeeping and some payroll – even thought the add said “payroll accountant”. the pay wasn’t that good and the work situation was crap – the person who gets this sits in the middle of an open space area with 4 others – i asked what about discretion of details etc – they didn’t like the question and didn’t understand what i implied. I was cut in the 2nd round.

    As a friend of mine said “you have a job to offer me ? – then make me an offer. don’t screw around with me mentally, psychologically or physically” (he refuses to go to pilat type testing as a principal).

  8. Kate

    I’ve undergone this process and I find it an amazing tool for understanding both oneself and others.

  9. Pavel

    I had the interview with Pilat in Jerusalem back in 2010. Interview was fine (the way it described in the article).
    However it didn’t work well in my case.
    I made aliya from Russia just 5 months before this interview.
    Despite of my limited Hebrew level they gave me most of the tasks in Hebrew which was quite frustrating. A few tasks were in English though and none in Russian (though Israel has a big number of Russian speaking immigrants).
    As result I failed the interview.

    1. Jacob Share

      Sadly, there are far too many Israeli companies using recruitment processes that don’t account for olim. Pilat themselves should know better by now too.
      I blogged a story that happened to me where I missed out on what seemed like a great job, with a boss who clearly wanted to hire me, because of a graphology test that only expected native Israelis:


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