How To Prepare For AstraZeneca Pymetrics Games & Get Hired?
While the company itself is of British origin, AstraZeneca’s ambitions are clearly global. It is one of the leading biomedical firms in the world with a focus on delivering both pharmaceuticals and medical equipment everywhere from the United States to Sierra Leone.
But they don’t just focus on getting existing medical care out there. They also have a focus on researching the next advancements.
The funny thing is that you might know all of this already. And whether you learned about it eight years ago, at the beginning of a medical education, or ten seconds ago at the beginning of this article, you are probably thinking the same thing: Working there sounds like it would make a lot of money.
And you would be correct. Tons of jobs at AstraZeneca make over six figures. But there is a barrier to entry for AstraZeneca that not a lot of other jobs in the medical field have: The AstraZeneca Games.
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What Are the AstraZeneca Games?
The name makes them sound like an event as if you go to the games and compete with other prospective employees. But these games are neither competitive nor public. What they really are is a form of test that AstraZeneca gives to people who are applying to positions in their company.
The AstraZeneca games are neuroscience pymetric tests to assess your skills in:
You have probably heard of other jobs doing similar things. These games are one of many quirks that have emerged from the modern job application process. But why are these games used? What is the job application process like? And how do these games work? That is what we are here to talk about today.
Why Are the AstraZeneca Games Part of the Hiring Process?
What you have to understand is that the AstraZeneca games are just one component of screening employees out of the hiring process. Companies like AstraZeneca get dozens, if not hundreds, of applications per day. Some are not worth their time, while others are simply misplaced.
Here is the basic process of applying for a job at most companies: First, you apply for a job at AstraZeneca. That means submitting your resume and some references. Sadly, your resume is not looked at by a real person, at least not at first. Before anyone can lay eyes on your resume, it is evaluated by machines.
These machines look for certain keywords. For instance, if you apply for a job in anesthesia, they are going to look for certain qualifications in your skills and education related to that field.
If they do not find them—even if you have relevant skills and education, just with the wrong wording—then they will scrap your application before anyone ever sees it. Sounds unfair, right? It is. That is why the games exist.
At AstraZeneca, however, things can be a bit more relaxed. They still use machines to screen out resumes, but their standards for how precisely an applicant needs to conform to their criteria can be much lower. Why? Because the AstraZeneca games are a much better method of screening applicants.
In short, the AstraZeneca games are part of the hiring process because they give a much clearer image of how qualified a person is for a job. But what games will they have you play?
What Games Do You Play for AstraZeneca?
Which specific AstraZeneca game you play will be determined by a few factors. The dominant factor is the position you are applying for within the company. Different positions and different levels of seniority will require you to be screened through different games.
Though keep in mind that some positions, such as management and senior-level positions in various fields, will forgo the game altogether.
The games include:
- The General Ability Test
- Stop Game
- Balloon Inflation Game
- Hanoi Tower Game
- Hard or Easy Game
- Digits memory game
The main game you will be screened with is the longest and most complex, and it is the game that basically all new applicants will play: The SHL General Ability Test.
The General Ability Test
There are three components to the General Ability Test:
The first is the Numerical Reasoning Test. You probably see the word “numeric” and think that it is a math test. And it is true that it relates to math. But it is not a college algebra test or anything like that. It is less about crude mathematics and more about deduction and pattern recognition in values. But that probably sounds like a lot of jargon.
You have a sequence of numbers. It goes 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 15. What number is missing from the sequence?
This is an extremely simple example, so the answer is exactly what you think it is: 13 because it is just a sequence of odd numbers. The questions on the actual test will present you with more complex problems, but they are actually not that much more complex.
The second component of the General Ability Test is the Inductive Reasoning Test. People often get confused about the difference between inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning. You can understand this test easily by thinking of it as a test for understanding the functions of a system.
You see, deductive reasoning is a “top-down” approach to logic. That means you look at the outcome of a system to try and figure out the rules that produced that outcome. But inductive reasoning is “bottom-up.” That means you are looking at the rules in order to predict the output of the system.
Imagine you are viewing a set of shapes. It starts with a triangle, then becomes a square, then a pentagon. Every subsequent shape adds an angle to it. By understanding this rule, you can predict what that system will output 40 shapes in advance since its output is always the same.
The last component of the General Ability Test is the Deductive Reasoning Test. And as you might imagine, it is basically the inverse of the inductive reasoning test. Here, you might be given the same set of shapes and asked to determine the rules of the system, as opposed to being told the rules of the system and expected to predict the shapes it would output.
Another common game found among the AstraZeneca Games is the “stop game.” This has been used as a measure of aptitude in militaries across the world and has recently been employed by many medical providers to gauge the reflexes of its employees. Not everyone working at a place like AstraZeneca needs highly responsive reflexes, but those that do will need them quite intensely.
The Stop Game is one of the simplest games they ask you to take. You start with a blank screen. If the screen turns red, you hit the space bar. If the screen turns green, you do nothing. This tests not only reaction speed but the speed of cognition.
It is easy—in fact, too easy—to simply react to a change. The more important skill, whether you are a researcher or a paramedic, is to react with understanding.
Balloon Inflation Game
The Balloon Inflation Game is basically a risk management simulator. You will be given a balloon that you can pump full of air. If you pump the balloon up too much, it will explode. Once you pump the balloon up to any amount, you can “sell” the balloon for an amount of money.
It is worth noting that you can also only pump the balloon at set intervals. That means you cannot cheat on the game by operating it quickly. You have to make the decision: When are you going to pump? When are you going to cash out? And how often do you get greedy and lose the balloon?
Since there is no way of knowing when the balloon will pop, as that value is decided randomly, the player is forced to make a decision in advance of how much money they are aiming to get and how much of a return or a loss they are willing to accept.
One of the hidden values that this game tracks is the consistency of the player’s decisions. It measures their ability to make a plan and stick to it.
Hanoi Tower Game
This is a classic logic puzzle and one of the few games of the bunch where a “max score” is possible. In it, you are given several towers of colored blocks and tasked with assembling them into one tower in as few moves as possible.
This is a basic test of planning ability. While you are timed for how long you take, you are also timed for how long you take after you start making your moves.
That means you are timed for how long it takes you to make a plan. Then you are timed a second time for how efficiently you execute that plan.
Hard or Easy Game
Like the balloon game, this game is designed to test your risk assessment capability. Except for this time, things are flavored a bit differently. Rather than a balloon that pays you money and sometimes pops, you are offered two tasks: One is “easy” and pays you a little money, and the other is “hard” and pays you more money with the trade-off that you have a chance to succeed and a chance to fail.
In terms of raw mathematics, this is actually identical to the balloon game. You press a button, and there is a chance that you get money and a chance that you get nothing. The two functional differences are that you cash out after every button press, and you can see the probability of things going wrong.
Those are the functional differences. But there is one aesthetic difference that you have probably noticed: The jobs being labeled “easy” and “hard.” That detail is there because the game is not just a measure of your risk analysis. It is a measure of how your pride involves itself with risk analysis.
There are people who will take a hard job that they have no chance of doing properly just because they do not want to back down from a challenge. This quality is admirable, but it has a clear cost deficit after a certain point. You have to be able to look at a hard job and say it is too hard if that’s the reality.
Digits Memory Game
It is easy to misunderstand the Digits Memory Game. Before we talk about what it is meant to test, let’s talk about how it works. First, your screen will be dominated by a series of letters and numbers, each one shown to you one at a time. Then, you will be expected to type out what you saw.
Naturally, your memory is being tested here. But there are layers to testing a person’s memory that you can’t ignore. For instance, memory is as much a matter of volume as it is accuracy. Comprehension plays a big part in having a good memory too.
For that reason, you are not just being shown letters and numbers in a sequence. You are being shown letters and numbers at increasing speeds.
The length of the strings also increases as you get more and more correct, and there are fewer repeated letters and numbers. All of these factors contribute to making the sequences harder to remember specifically. But you still get credit if you remember how many you were shown.
Perhaps the most important thing that this game tests, however, has nothing to do with memory at all. There are two things that this game evaluates that are practically invisible. The first is patience.
It is pretty easy to imagine someone who is completely unprepared for this test to disregard it and speed through it to get to the end of it. This is especially common among people who overestimate its length.
The other invisible thing that the game tests for is certain kinds of thinking. You see, the human brain can usually only remember up to seven digits at a time (which is why phone numbers are seven digits long). However, it becomes easier to both visualize and remember numbers through grouping.
A person has a much easier time remembering numbers if they break them down into groups of three mentally. So, a sequence like 142567928 is much easier to remember if you think of it like 142-567-928.
That means that if you are able to remember more than seven or eight numbers in this game, you will be identified as having the mental flexibility to not only retain information but organize it mentally.
In short, it is a simple game, but it features a few adjustments to give it depth.
How Are AstraZeneca Games Evaluated?
So, there is a memory game, a reflexes game, and a general test of cognitive ability. But taken in a vacuum, the outcomes of these tests mean nothing. So, how are they evaluated?
AstraZeneca evaluates the results of all of its games by comparing them to three data points. The first of these data points is pre-existing scores that they have gathered from people who are currently employed with them and working the jobs.
They gather these by doing follow-up tests on their employees. It is important that they get the data from people who are already employed with the company, as it gives them a sense of how people do at these tests when they are not practicing.
The second data point that AstraZeneca gathers is from other applicants of the same game. This data is weighted with considerably less value, as it is incredibly volatile.
Basically, AstraZeneca knows that people practice for these tests, and they know that the results that people give in their tests are going to be greater than their capabilities in the job itself.
So, why do they even judge based on this information?
Simple: Because they want to hire the best candidate from the available pool of candidates. Therefore, they have to judge scores based on how they compare to other applicants’ available scores.
The last data point they gather to evaluate scores is the averages of all applicants over time. As the tests become more well-known and methods for practicing them become more common, these numbers go up over time.
This makes it easier to tell which applicants can keep up with an increasingly competitive market and who is likely to hit a wall in terms of their development across certain metrics.
What Happens After an Applicant Completes the AstraZeneca Games?
Once you complete the AstraZeneca games that you have assigned to you, then your scores will be submitted and evaluated by the aforementioned metrics. If you are found to have a satisfactory aptitude for your job, then you will be moved to the next phase of the hiring process.
Something that should be emphasized is that, for all of the layers of thought and complexity that are put into these tests, they are ultimately going to be over far quicker than you might expect.
The longest of these tests is the General Ability Test. It is comprised of 30 questions which you are given about 35 minutes to solve. The other two can each take less than 15 minutes.
What does that mean? Well, examine your expectations. You might hear all of this talk about the AstraZeneca Games and think that they are some overly complex hoops that an applicant has to jump through in order to get a job. But they are not complex, and they are not even time-consuming.
Completing these games will increase the chances that you get an interview further down the line. That is usually what moving on to the next step of the hiring process entails.
How to Prepare for the AstraZeneca Games
Due to their ability to get you to the next phase of the hiring process, a lot of people (justifiably) want to practice for these tests in advance of taking them. This is a wise decision, and it is something that has been factored into the test in a number of ways. Most importantly, these tests are easy to practice for.
The easiest and most effective way to practice is to head to Job Test Prep, which has interactive, realistic practice questions and example tests. They also have study guides and explanations to make sure you know the why behind every answer.
The AstraZeneca games are essentially based on similar tests that are used as aptitude tests in the United States military (and, at this point, many other militaries). Because of this, you can find similar practice versions of these games.
Your goal when practicing for these games should not just be to increase your numbers, though that does not exactly hurt to do. The issue with focusing purely on increasing the numbers is that while it is valuable on paper to have higher numbers, the tests are testing certain skills for certain reasons.
We mentioned before how the memory test can be used to test one’s ability to group information stored in the brain in order to remember it more easily. If you just focus on getting higher numbers, then you will likely end up hitting that “seven-digit wall” we mentioned in that passage.
What you should be doing when practicing these games is researching their intention and the techniques to achieve the highest scores. This is actually a little higher than just doing them over and over again, but it is a little more work for a lot more reward, as those techniques will make a difference.
The AstraZeneca Games are a clever way of filtering out applicants that don’t make the cut. It also gives those applicants an easy and efficient way of communicating their value to the company.
Note that one of the things that makes these games special is not just that they are developed by psychologists and used by organizations all over the world. Those qualities are what make them good anywhere.
But what makes these games good for the workplace environment is that they are ethical. They do not require you to offer any personal information or do any labor for the company.
Some programming firms will require their employees to basically do a few days’ worth of work for them before they can even get an interview.
This is highly exploitative. But AstraZeneca, and many other companies, use these games to gauge their employees’ abilities in a way that is fun and easy. Head to Job Test Prep for all the in-depth practice resources you need to excel.
Sarah is an accomplished educator, researcher and author in the field of testing and assessment. She has worked with various educational institutions and organisations to develop innovative evaluation methods and enhance student learning. Sarah has published numerous articles and books on assessment and learning. Her passion for promoting equity and fairness in the education system fuels her commitment to sharing insights and best practices with educators and policymakers around the world.