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IBM is a multinational technology and consulting corporation, previously ranked as the second largest firm in the US. Securing employment or a place on one of their graduate schemes is extremely competitive and candidates must be prepared to undergo a lengthy selection procedure. Once an online application form has been completed, candidates are required to undertake online psychometric tests. This is typical of graduate level positions, although further tests may be required for higher level roles. Candidates are informed in advance as to which tests they will be required to take.

IBM use a combination of Bespoke and Kenexa assessments throughout the recruitment process, as a means of screening out candidates. In regards to potential employees, IBM look for a set of key values throughout the selection procedure: Adaptability, Communication, Client Focus, Creative Problem Solving, Drive, Teamwork, Passion for IBM and Taking Ownership.

The IBM Process

The IBM selection process is made of four stages:

  • Application: Applications are made online and require candidates to provide their contact details, education and work experience. This is to ensure that the candidate meets the entry requirements for their selected role. Candidates are also required to complete an IBM application template, which lists competencies associated with the role and asks for examples of times when the candidate has demonstrated them.
  • Telephone interview: Candidates who have applied for a BDE role will be contacted for a telephone interview, and not have any online tests to complete.
  • Online Testing: Successful candidates are sent an invitation to complete the “IBM IPAT”, a logical reasoning test comprised of three sections. Candidates need only complete two of these sections and can choose whether to complete them in one or two sittings. However, they must be completed within seven days of receiving the invitation link. All instructions regarding the IBM IPAT will be provided to candidates in the invitation email. Candidates who have applied for the ‘Graduate Strategic Analytics Consultant’ role will be asked to undertake an additional aptitude test provided by SHL which focusses more on their verbal and numerical ability. Candidates who have applied for the ‘Software Developer’ role will be asked to complete a personality questionnaire.
  • Assessment Centre: Selected candidates are then invited to attend an assessment day, during which they will undergo some or all of the following assessments: Group Activity – This usually involves logical problem solving or a discussion board, Confirmatory Test – This is a short test similar to the online test completed during the earlier stages, Written Tests – Some candidates will be required to complete Verbal Reasoning and Numerical Reasoning tests. Some applicants will also have a first round interview during their assessment day.
  • Final Interview: During this interview, candidates are assessed regarding specific skills necessary for the job applied for. It is also a good chance for candidates to find out about the role and establish whether this is likely to be a good fit. Successful applicants at stage 4 will be made an offer of employment or a place on a graduate scheme with IBM.

*The application stage will differ slightly for those applying to the “Graduate Strategic Analytics Consultant” or the ‘Software Developer’ schemes, details for this can be found on the IBM website.


The IPAT is a bespoke test written specifically for IBM and designed to assess how quickly candidates process information and their ability to reason logically. Questions present a sequence of numbers or symbols and ask the candidate to select the next item in the sequence. These tests are considered non-verbal reasoning and require candidates to recognise patterns or rules and use them to make logical conclusions as to what will come next or how to convert the items. Although the IPAT is a unique test, it has aspects similar to Logical Reasoning tests.

IBM Verbal Test

In these tests candidates are provided with a passage of written information and asked to analyse and draw logical inferences from that written information. The questions will be multiple choice with the answer options being: true; false; cannot say. The key here is to answer the questions based on purely the information contained within the passage (ignore any prior knowledge you may have). Think literally and go only on what you have been told in the passage.

IBM Numerical Test

In these tests numerical data is provided to a candidate, usually in the form of graphs, tables, statistics and financial data. To answer these questions, candidates must analyse this data and make a logical conclusion from it, allowing them to select the correct answer. Typical numerical skills which are tested include addition/subtraction, multiplication/division, ratios, fractions and percentages.

AssessmentDay AssessmentDay has insider tips and helpful advice for taking psychometric tests and assessments. Our psychometric test experts are here to help candidates.
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