Kearney Recruitment Test: How to prepare and ace it (2022)

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The Kearney Recruitment Test is a typical consulting aptitude test, combining numerical, verbal, and other case skill assessments for you to pass if you want to work for Kearney. It is employed in a similar way as the McKinsey Problem Solving Game, the BCG Online and Chatbot Case / BCG Pymetrics or the Bain SOVA and acts as an additional screening device for applicants.

In some offices, it is part of your first round in combination with the interviews, in others it is used as a screening device and hurdle before you can move on to the interviews.

In terms of its content, it contains typical elements of a consulting aptitude test such as quantitative, verbal, as well as case interview questions. Personality traits are not assessed.

In this post, we focus on

  • the format of the Kearney Recruitment Test
  • the types of questions Kearney expects you to answer
  • simple ways to prepare for the Kearney Recruitment Test
  • tips to maximize your performance when taking the test

Before we start, make sure to clarify with your local HR what type of test you will have to go through for your Kearney application. Not all offices employ the test and it could be that you are asked to do something else instead, such as an Excel-based assessment.

Why Kearney employs a recruitment test

Why does Kearney employ an aptitude test in addition to case interviews and personal fit questions? Mainly for two reasons:

First, such tests are a quick and cost-effective way to assess a large number of candidates. By creating an additional step in the recruiting funnel, Kearney reduces the number of candidates that move on to the case interviews and thereby decreases the expensive consultants’ hours spent on interviewing applicants. Consequently, such consulting aptitude tests are a valuable tool, decreasing the cost of recruiting over time.

Second, the Kearney screening assessment is highly standardized. While different questions are used for different candidates (to a certain extend), the metrics that they assess are the same. Hence, Kearney is able to compare the performance of candidates across time and objective metrics. This adds an additional level of objectivity to the recruiting process and allows for more data points to be collected from candidates, a marker that top-tier consulting firms are constantly striving for.

While little to no business knowledge might be required, it is certainly helpful, since the thinking processes and problem-solving prowess are the same as you would need for the case interviews, and certain elements of a case interview such as chart reading or numberical prowess are also evaluated. Hence, you should prepare for the Kearney recruitment test as diligently as possible, in addition to your case practice. After all, since a similar skill set is needed for both the case interview and this assessment, training for one increases your performance for the other and vice versa.

The format of the Kearney Recruitment Test

The Kearney recruitment test is designed to evaluate the analytical, quantitative, verbal, and structuring skills that you would need when working as a consultant for the firm. In order to do that, it is structured into six sections:

Question types

  • 1.1 Quantitative: Logical counting questions
  • 1.2 Quantitative: Statements
  • 2.1 Verbal: Understanding of logical text
  • 2.2 Verbal: Reading a passage
  • 3.1 Case studies: Reading a table of numbers
  • 3.2 Case studies: Reading a graph

Each section has a pre-defined number of questions. For the number of questions, the points for each correct answer, and the point deduction for an incorrect answer, see the table below. Be aware that there is only one correct answer for each question and points are deducted for wrong answers.

SectionType of question# of questionsPoints for a correct answerPoints for incorrect answer
QuantitativeLogical counting questions85-1
QuantitativeStatements65-1
VerbalUnderstanding of logical text65-1
VerbalReading a passage85-1
Case studiesReading a table of numbers65-1
Case studiesReading a graph65-1
Kearney Recruitment Test layout

Duration

You have a full 60 minutes to finish the test with its 40 questions, which leaves you with a mere 1.5 minutes per question. The short allowed to answer every single question is one of the hardest challenges in this assessment as we have learned from some of our candidates. Given enough time, one would be easily able to solve all questions, yet the added stress of the ticking clock as well as the evaluation character of the assessment add to the experience.

Let’s check out in more detail what skills are you expected to show and how you are evaluated based on a series of real Kearney recruitment test examples.

The skills that are assessed and question examples

At the highest level, there are quantitative, verbal, and case skill questions. The later are mostly related to chart and data interpretation.

Quantitative reasoning and math

Such questions focus on your ability to handle quantitative data and solve simple mathematical and business problems. In the Kearney Recruitment Test, the questions are either purely mathematical or embedded into a business context. Each question will give you five potential answers of which only one is correct.

Purely mathematical

If 3/8 of x is by 7 more than 1/5 of x, what is 3/8 of x?

Math example from the Kearney mock test

Business context

Ana sells at school cookies prepared by her mother. She buys the cookies from her mother at standard
cost of preparing them. However, her mother has an extra discount which brings her real cost down by
15%. Ana’s profit margin is 30% from the price she sells it to her colleagues. What share of Ana’s
profits is her mother’s extra discount?

Business math example from the Kearney mock test

Also part of the math section are statement questions, which are very similar to the GMAT-type statement questions. In this section, you are presented with a short text and then need to find out if Statements 1 and 2 are correct or false OR if based on Statements 1 and 2 you are able to answer a question.

If John saved $800 of his earnings last month, how much did John earn last month?

a. In the last month, John spent half of his earnings for living

b. Of his earnings last month, John paid twice as much in clothing as he saved

Potential answers:

A. Statement (1) ALONE is sufficient, but statement(2) ALONE is not sufficient

B. Statement (2) ALONE is sufficient, but statement(1) ALONE is not sufficient

C. BOTH statements TOGETHER are sufficient, but NEITHER statement ALONE is sufficient

D. EACH statement ALONE is sufficient

E. Statements(1) and (2) TOGETHER are NOT sufficient

Statement question example from the Kearney mock test

Verbal and logical reasoning

Verbal Reasoning evaluates your skill to understand complex information under time pressure. In this format, you have to read one short paragraph per question to answer a single choice question with four to five answer alternatives.

When news periodicals begin forecasting a recession, people tend to spend less money on discretionary purchases.Therefore, the perceived threat of recession decreases the willingness of people to purchase products that they regard as optional or luxury goods.


Argument above assumes that:


A. there are more luxury goods available after a recessionis forecast
B. the latest drop of luxury goods sales is resulting from a recession
C. people’s perception of the threat of recession increases when news periodicals begin forecasting a recession
D. the people who spent the most money before a recession was forecast were among those who
curtailed their spending after the recession became apparent

verbal reasoning example from the Kearney mock test

Alternatively, you have to read a longer one-page text and then answer several questions related to that text with five answer alternatives per question.

Click on this link to read the text statement.

Based only on the information presented in the article, please answer the following questions:

According to the passage, all the following are aspects of Braudel’s approach to history EXCEPT that he
A. Attempted to unify various social sciences
B. Studied social and economic activities that occurred across national boundaries
C. Pointed out the link between increased economic activity and the rise of nationalism
D. Examined seemingly unexciting aspects of everyday life
E. Visualized history as involving several different time frames

Verbal reasoning example from the Kearney mock test

Case interview skills

The third section of the Kearney Test asks you to interpret a table with data points as well as read a graph. For real Kearney sample tables and graphs, click here.

Table reading

For the table you would be presented with an organized set of data and asked a specific question, which mostly has you perform some computations, again selecting one answer out of five alternatives. The calculation is usually based on finding the relevant values in the table, then performing either some multiplications or divisions to reach the desired outcome.

On average, how much market value in Asia would a Uranium employee create per week in company ABC (52 weeks a year)?

Table interpretation example from the Kearney mock test

Graph reading

For the graph, you are expected to calculate a specific value from the data points. Similar to the table, pick the right variables and then plug them into your simple formula to create the desired outcome.

In 2007, there were 667,284 unemployed in Bulgaria, whose population was 13.1% of Poland for that year. With a fixed annual population increase of 0.639%, approximately how many unemployed were in Poland in 2009?

Graph reading example from the Kearney mock test

To see more sample questions, look at the official Kearney Recruitment Mock Test here.

How to prepare for the Kearney Recruitment Test

the image is a plan how to prepare for the kearney recruitment test
Preparation plan for the Kearney Test

Work on your business acumen

If you come from a business background, business school, etc. this is less relevant for you. However, if you do not have a business background and want to answer the business-related questions of the Kearney test, you might want to brush up on your business knowledge. You will need it for the case interviews as well.

This includes concepts, definitions, and cause-and-effect relationships that are common in the business world.

How can you do that? Critically read and actively work through the following sources:

Brush up your mental math, pen-and-paper math as well as numerical reasoning skills

We have written extensively on case interview math here. In the article, we discuss what to expect and how to prepare. The same principles we discuss in the linked article also apply to the Kearney Recruitment Test.

In general, the level of math required is not more complex than what you have already learned in school and you do not need a specific degree to pass the test.

Keep in mind that for every calculation, there are two steps: First, you will need to come up with the correct calculations (the logic), and second, perform swift calculations both mentally as well as with pen-and-paper (the calculation).

If you want to go deeper to brush up on your math skills, we have created a program with detailed insider learning materials, 25 videos, and a guidebook as well as 2,000 practice drills that mimick the Kearney case interview math as well as the aptitude and analytics test math for you here: the Case Interview Math Mastery.

Practice text analysis and verbal reasoning

As with every other aptitude test, you will have to sift through large amounts of data, which leaves you with significant time pressure.

For text analysis, you will have to pick a correct answer or statement. In order to do this successfully, learn three things.

  • Reading comprehension: Find the needle in the haystack and zero in on the important bits of a complex business text to interpret its core statements. Use business publications, research papers, and articles to train this skill
  • Chart, table, and data interpretation: Practice the ability to understand and interpret complex data and elicit true conclusions and statements from it. We have written extensively on chart interpretation here
  • Logical reasoning: Learn how to deduct correct statements from different sources of information. GMAT reasoning questions are your best friend when preparing for this

Practice in simulated test conditions

When practicing, emulate real testing conditions. Most importantly, set yourself time constraints, focus on practice questions that are similar to the Kearney questions, and use your computer as the main source of information. Do not print out any handouts, exhibits, data tables, etc.

Use the practice tests provided by the firms to prepare as well.

Look for official examples of the McKinsey Problem Solving Test, which are still online on some McKinsey recruiting websites or BCG Online Cases, which are often similar. If you have trouble finding them, please reach out to us.

Monitor your progress

Assess your strengths and weaknesses and build your skills up from there. Create a preparation plan and monitor your progress in developing the right kind of skills. Work both on your strengths and weaknesses so that your strengths are able to secure your baseline score in the assessments. Your weaknesses should be at a good enough level to gain additional points on top of your baseline score.

Test-taking tips for high scores

the image shows test taking tips for the kearney recruitment test
Kearney Test strategies

Follow these seven tips to make the most out of your experience:

Do not replicate results or solutions 

Focus on your own test and the process instead of trying to replicate answers you have discussed with friends and peers. The types of questions and the format is the same, yet, the questions themselves change with different numbers, different content, etc.

Get comfortable with 80/20 decisions and incomplete information

There is a lot of data and many questions. Focus on the ones you can solve quickly. Sometimes, you might not select the best answer. If you are not 100% sure, do not answer the question in order to avoid points deduction.

Get comfortable with estimations and simple math. That way you will be able to calculate and compare the expected outcomes of several options. Sometimes being in the right ballpark is good enough when comparing several alternative answer options.

Understand what you need to do

Make sure that you understand clearly what your task is for each question and what you are asked to solve as well as what each answer means. Avoid mistakes by solving the wrong question or falling into traps.

Scan the rest and prioritize key bits of information

Whenever you have to deal with large walls of text and data blocks, scan the information provided.

First, read the question carefully and make sure you understand what you are asked to do. Find your objective!

Second, figure out what information you need to answer the question.

Third, for a math question, draft your logic and look for the information. For a verbal reasoning question, scan the document for the relevant information.

Fourth, once you found it, zero in and read the specific part carefully.

Train your reading speed with speed reading exercises and smartphone apps.

Keep an eye on the time 

It is easy to get lost in the details and complexity of the information overload these tests present. Make sure to go swiftly through each task.

In the Kearney Recruitment Test, you have to answer 40 questions in 60 minutes, which means you have 1.5 minutes to answer one question. Do not waste time. If you get stuck, move on to the next question.

Set yourself goals and time markers. For instance, if you know you have 60 minutes to solve 40 questions, you should have worked through 20 questions at the 30-minute mark, ideally even a bit more to have some buffer.

Have a plan on how to approach every question

Use a process to help you make more deliberate and thoughtful decisions on how to approach each question and move through the test. This will increase your organization, your pace, and your performance.

Take proper notes

Write down key observations, calculations, and intermediate steps. Keep the notes organized since you might need them at a later stage (e.g., for the case questions).

Our Kearney Recruitment Test Guide

If you want a full preparation program with preparation plans, detailed insights into the test, the preparation, and test-taking strategies, check out our 76-page Kearney Recruitment Test Guide.

 

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