IBM Assessment Centre, IPAT & Interview Practice
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Learn More about the IBM Assessment Centre

School leavers and eXtreme Blue - IBM Internship Graduates Experienced Professionals
IBM Assessment Centre Activities Presentation IPAT verification test Group activity Written test Problem solving exercise Communication/ role play exercise Interview Presentation Group exercises IPAT verification test Communication/ role play exercise Written exercise Interview Presentation Group exercises Interview
IBM Interviews Nothing beyond the assessment centre Final interview Telephone interviews Face to face interviews

The focus of all assessment centres is to assess your team working skills. You are expected to demonstrate how you work with other people without taking over the situation or sitting back too much. As this is a key theme running through all IBM assessment centres you may want to take some time ahead of the day thinking about your approach to working in a team. Gain tips to help you prepare for group exercises from JobTestPrep.

School leavers and eXtreme Blue applicants can expect very similar assessment centres. This assessment centre is at IBM’s offices in Hursley, and can either be in two parts with an IBM assessment day and an IBM assessment centre or take place on a single day with unsuccessful applicants leaving halfway through the day. The exercises and interviews at the IBM assessment centre are designed to give the recruitment team a full picture. The exercises are also designed to provide evidence of how you meet IBM’s competencies.

IBM recently switched to just one assessment centre for the graduate programme. Whilst the IBM assessment centre lasts a whole day, candidates who have not reached IBM’s expected standard are sent home after the first two exercises. It is therefore crucial that you hit the ground running at the assessment centre. You will be told in advance which exercises to expect at your assessment centre.

Applicants for experienced positions can also expect an IBM assessment day of some sort. You will be told in advance what to expect in each centre, with the range of exercises explained below.

IBM Assessment Centre Exercises

IPAT Verification Test

Candidates at all levels are required to take an IPAT verification test at their assessment centres. This IBM aptitude test is a paper based test similar to the IBM online test you took earlier in the process, but is shorter, with 22.5 minutes allocated to answer 10 questions. One major difference however is that you are not allowed to use a calculator in this test. A further difference is that some candidates have reported that this test is only the number series questions.

The purpose of the test is to confirm your result from the IBM online test. Many candidates will say that this test is easier than the initial IPAT. It may have been some time since you took your online IPAT test, so don’t forget to brush up on your skills.

IBM Pre-prepared Presentation

Candidates may be asked to give a short presentation at different times in the IBM assessment centre process. For this presentation you are given a topic (for example introducing yourself or explaining what technology means to you) ahead of the IBM assessment day, and told to prepare a 10 minute powerpoint presentation to deliver to a manager or recruiter. You will be given some points to include, so ensure you do so. You will also be expected to answer questions on the content of your presentation, so ensure that you know what you are presenting about. Prepare your presentation with JobTestPrep.

IBM Written Test

The written test is part of the recruitment process for applicants to the IBM school leavers programme or the eXtreme Blue IBM internship scheme. Technical applicants will sit a test comprising a set of multiple choice questions based on technical topics for you to answer. Applicants for business related schemes are asked to write an essay. As always, be careful of your spelling and grammar in the essay. Brush up on your essay writing skills and prepare for this assessment with our written exercises pages.

IBM Group Exercises

The IBM assessment centre group exercises include two categories, a logical task and a planning task. In these exercises you are split into groups of 6 or 8 people to carry out the task. You are assessed throughout the exercise, so you want to make sure you contribute well to the task without taking over. The exercises test your logical skills, so make sure you use them.

In the logical exercise you are asked to organise a fictional art exhibition. As a team you are expected to identify the best place to display each exhibit based on incomplete information about each one. In this task you are expected to fill in the gaps in information, consider different criteria and pieces of information to take into account.

The second group task is a planning task. The group have to work together to organise an event for a client. The client has given a set of criteria and demands that you need to accommodate within a budget. You have 4 minutes to ask the client questions at the start to establish the criteria further.

Both exercises place a heavy emphasis on team working. You are expected to work well with your teammates, not take over the discussion, whilst also making sure that your contributions are heard and acted on. Prepare your group exercise strategy in advance.

IBM Communication/ Role Play Exercise

In this exercise you will work within a pair to carry out the task. You are given 20 minutes to digest a set of information and prepare a strategy before going into the 5 to 10 minute role play. Your interviewer is the client, and you are representing IBM. You are being tested on your analytical, negotiation and team working skills in this exercise. Example exercises include representing a mobile app development company, and developing a business plan for them. Your role is to convince the client that this is the plan for them. Learn more about how to approach case studies with JobTestPrep.

IBM Written Exercise

This written exercise follows on from the previous task, but this time you are working on your own. You are given 20 minutes to build further on the recommendations of your team, and write an email or report to the client explaining the specifics of the proposal your team came up with in order to convince them that the scheme is a good one. When completing this exercise don’t forget to follow the instructions of the exercise, and answer all questions. Your spelling and grammar must be correct, so take care and check you work over. Sharpen your written exercise skills ahead of the assessment centre to ensure that you ace this test. However check in advance whether you will experience this test, as it has been left out of recent IBM assessment centres.

IBM Interviews

You may experience a CV based interview at several points in the recruitment process. For some applicants this interview will take place at the assessment centre. The assessment centre interview is a half an hour session with a Manager or Partner. This interview will ask about you, your CV and what you know about IBM, and why you want to work for them. Ahead of the interview, prepare by researching the company well, so that you know what you are being asked about, and can give examples of current or recent IBM projects. Research the area you have applied to, or want to work for. Don’t forget to review your CV as you will be asked about the information you have provided, and prepare further examples to illustrate your point- don’t use the same ones again. You can also expect questions on the IBM competencies, so prepare examples that demonstrate your skills against this list. Applicants to technical positions may be asked questions about technical points of work. Your aim is to be able to explain concepts clearly and simply.

Whilst you are doing all this preparation, you may want to prepare answers to some of the more common IBM interview questions. You will also want to rehearse your answers in interview conditions. The best way to do this is with a mock interview. Our interview preparation package offers you an opportunity to rehearse your answers with the added bonus of trained assessors able to give you advice on how to improve for the real thing.

IBM Graduate Programme Interview Questions

As well as the more usual questions you may be asked questions about IBM and what can you offer to them. Questions include:

  • Describe an IBM product, service or partner that has impressed you.
  • What can you bring to IBM and what can IBM give you back?

IBM Interviews

Applicants to all IBM positions are invited to a number of interviews. Applicants to experienced roles can expect up to two IBM telephone interviews, as well as competency based interviews, CV based interviews, IBM case study interviews and more.

IBM Presentation

You may be asked to prepare a Powerpoint presentation to bring along to interview. Topics for the presentation have included “What technology means to me” or business related presentations for business track applicants. When preparing your presentation, make sure it is engaging. Don’t overload the powerpoint slides with text, use images or graphics to make your points. Gain tips on preparing presentations with JobTestPrep.

IBM Graduate Programme Final Interview

If you pass the assessment centre you will next be invited to the final interview. The purpose of this interview is to ensure that you are a good fit for the business area you have applied to. This hour-long interview will ask you about your CV and your motivations for applying to IBM and for the future. You may also be asked questions about your skills as they relate to the job, or to demonstrate your commercial awareness. Check out some of our answers to common interview questions in our JobTestPrep free guide to interviews. This interview is similar to but longer than the assessment centre interview. It is a really great opportunity for you to find out more about the role and IBM, so be sure to prepare some questions to take in with you. Brush up on your interview skills with our online interview preparation package.

IBM Telephone Interviews

Telephone interviews often take place at the start of the recruitment process for experienced roles. They are usually with a senior manager in the recruiting department, and involve questions on your CV and motivations for applying for the role. 

Telephone Interview Questions

  • Which of your qualities or personal traits are most important for your career at IBM?
  • How do you maintain a positive discussion?
  • What questions do you have for me?
  • Give an example of how you set goals and achieve them.
  • How do you keep each member of the team involved and motivated?
  • What are common risks at IBM? How do you approach them?

Preparing for your IBM Interview

Always read over your CV ahead of your interview. You may well be asked about the information contained on there. The assessors will have read what you have written, so you will need to bring new examples to the interview. Review IBM’s competencies and the job description for the role you are applying to, and prepare examples highlighting your skills against each one. Prepare examples in advance that can be used in your answers. Organise these examples around the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to ensure that you cover all the relevant points. Read up on IBM and competitors. Know examples of what they are working on, and some of the recent news surrounding the company. Prepare some questions to ask in the interview. These should be based on your research into IBM and the role you are applying for. They are also an opportunity for you to find out more than is written in the sources you have had access to, so make your questions good. Practice delivering your answers. The most effective way to do this is in mock interview conditions. Our Skype-based interviews offer a mock interview, and as they are delivered by trained assessors, they also provide feedback, allowing you to gain an insight into your performance and how to improve before the real interview.

IBM Interview Questions

  • Some of the questions asked in the past at IBM interviews include:
  • What do you know about IBM?
  • What is IBM’s current stock price?
  • Who are our main competitors?
  • Why should we pick you?
  • How many petrol stations are there in the UK?
  • Tell me about a time you solved a problem creatively.
  • Tell me about Watson.
  • What is the single achievement you are most proud of?
  • Well me about the most interesting project you have done.
  • What do you want to be when you grow up?
  • How many leaves does a tree have?
  • Describe a difficult situation where you made a significant improvement what did you do and what was the result?
  • What are supermarket loyalty cards used for?

Prepare for IBM

The interview is generally the last stage in what may have been a long and challenging recruitment process. However the achievement of a position with IBM is a real success. This article has shown how much preparation is needed for each stage. Resources have been highlighted where they are available, including for the IBM IPAT, an aptitude test especially created for IBM.


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