Sign up now!
Ask The Headhunter Newsletter is HERE!
Headhunter's advice in your mailbox.
When you are in the running for a job there is a good chance you will be asked to take
some tests. There are things you can do to help make this a win-win situation for both you and the employer. I'm going to give
you a general overview of employment tests, discuss the types of tests you might be asked to take, provide pointers for doing
well in pre-employment testing, and describe how you can come out ahead even if you don't get the job. If you don't feel like
reading that much, here are the top three things to know about pre-employment testing:
- Keep a good attitude during the testing.
- Preparation can help for some types of tests.
- Find out if you are entitled to feedback and get as much as you can.
The Basics of Employment Testing
Know your tester and know your rights.
The cost of testing a single job candidate can range from $10 to more than $5,000. Employers are making a significant
investment in testing you. Unfortunately, there is virtually no government regulation regarding who can design and administer
|This article is
excerpted from Dr. Erica Klein's PDF book, Employment
The more you know about tests, the more thoughtfully
you'll approach them—and the tests you take will help
you win the right job! Order your copy of the 36-page
PDF book Employment Tests: Get The
Edge now! New from Ask The Headhunter and North Bridge
Most large human resource consulting firms and some corporations will use
organizational psychologists to develop and perform assessments. Psychologists abide by codes of ethics and guidelines that
ensure tests are reliable and valid, laws forbidding discrimination are scrupulously followed, and test takers are treated with
respect. If the assessor is not a
psychologist, he or she is not necessarily bound by a professional code of conduct.
Of course, you could refuse to take a test, and you can also refuse to participate in
any part of any test. This will probably result in being rejected for the job. If you believe that the testing was illegal in
any respect you can pursue legal remedies just as you can for any unfair and illegal employment practice. If you felt the
assessor at any time treated you unfairly or with disrespect, you may want to bring that up with the employer and/or the
At no time should you be asked any questions about disabilities you may or may not
have; this is illegal under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Questions about sexual orientation, sexual practices, with whom
you live, your religious beliefs or your ethnic background are also inappropriate although not necessarily illegal.
Testing the tests: reliability and validity.
Good testing results in better predictions of job performance but not perfect predictions. A good test is reliable
and valid. Reliable means it works the same each time it is given. Valid means it measures what it is supposed to
measure. A vision test given outdoors would not be reliable if it was given sometimes on bright days and sometimes on cloudy
days. A reading comprehension test would not be valid if it was given to people who read well but in a different language.
A test compares you to the ideal employee.
The principle behind this testing is that the employer has identified the qualities (often called "competencies")
it takes to do well at the job and wants to see to what extent you possess those qualities. It is important to understand that
employers will be comparing your scores to some ideal profile of a good employee in that job. In other words, if you are being
tested for extroversion, analytic ability, communication skills and attention to detail for a customer service job, you are most
likely to get the job if your scores match the profile of an excellent employee in that position, not if you score as
high as possible. In other words, it is possible to be too analytical or too extroverted for a particular job.
An employer should
administer an employment test to you in
good faith, and the test and its interpretation should be legitimate. You must use what we have discussed up to this point to
judge whether you want to proceed with an employment test.
Get An Edge on
5 Major Types of Tests
There are five major categories of tests you might encounter. For each
one, you should be prepared to take steps to to improve your performance.
There are several types of tests you may encounter. Most assessments will include more than one type of test. Intelligence
tests (also known as cognitive ability tests) are part of most pre-employment assessments because intelligence is the best
single predictor of job performance.
Personality tests are also very popular with employers. These tests can be very long and will usually ask you to rate
the extent to which a statement applies to you or to select your preference from pairs of options. Some of these questions might
seem odd and unrelated to employment. Often, people try to select the answers that will show them in the best light.
You can learn
much more about each type of employment test in Dr. Erica
Klein's PDF book, Employment
Tests: Get The Edge!
advice-packed guide is loaded with
from an Industrial Psychologist who
develops and administers
and who has taken every type of test
in the book
pages of insider information about tests
25 Get The Edge
advice-packed sidebars, and
Over 30 links to online
references and example tests selected by Dr. Klein herself.
your copy now!
Integrity tests assess job applicants' likelihood to
engage in counterproductive behaviors on the job. These might
include stealing, lying, cheating and dishonesty. Integrity tests
look at applicants' attitudes about these behaviors and they could
look at applicants' past experience with these behaviors. Employers
tend to assume that past behaviors predict future behaviors.
These tests post hypothetical (What would you do if...)
questions to job applicants about how they would behave in realistic
job situations. Situational judgment tests can be specific to
certain types of work and certain employers--in other words, a
situational judgment test for a retail position with a large shoe
store chain might be very different from one for a management
position in a business office.
The third major category of tests you are likely to encounter is simulations. These are essentially role-plays. You
might be asked to do one or more of the following:
- sort through an in-box,
- meet with your boss,
- meet with your subordinates,
- meet with your peers,
- deal with customers, or
- give a presentation.
Usually all the simulations fit together and draw on the same information. In fact,
you may learn something in one simulation that you can use in another.
Get The Most from Your Test Experience
Whether you get the job or not, you usually have a chance to leave the assessment with something of enormous potential
value: feedback. Use the feedback session to learn as much as you can about your perceived strengths
and areas for improvement.
Share your thoughts.
Don't argue if you disagree with some aspect of the evaluation. If you think it is relevant, go ahead and provide some
information that the assessor might not have known. For example, you could say, "I'm afraid I did poorly on the first test
this morning since I just found out my daughter is failing math and I was worried and distracted."
Since your final assessment score is usually determined by applying some subjective
judgment to combine all your results, the assessor may take your comments into account.
Be an active, enthusiastic participant.
Try to come to an assessment well rested, well informed about the job and the company,
and optimistic about the value of the assessment experience. If you are enthusiastic and engaged in the experience, you will
likely perform better than if you are passive and uninterested.
Companies that use pre-employment testing tend to make better hiring decisions, have
less turnover, and be more competitive and successful than companies that rely on resumes and instinct. When a company
administers a battery of tests to you, it is making an investment. That's a good sign that the company may be a good place
for you to invest your time and energy.
you already lost a great job?
Or a chance for an interview?
The Edge over your competitors!
Learn from a testing expert!
Prepare to perform at your best!
your copy of
Employment Tests: Get The Edge
Get the edge on:
employers use tests
to perform well
to compete for the job
A Crib Sheet to help you prepare
for any test you encounter, so you'll have
the edge to do your best every time!
Get The Edge!
YOUR COPY NOW!
Please tell us
what you think of this article. (We are also interested in hearing your stories about assessment experiences you've had: good,
bad or weird.)
is a Ph.D. Industrial Psychologist who has worked in the field of strategic, competency-based selection and assessment
since 1998. Her roles have included internal and external consultant and trainer
in industries ranging from public sector to healthcare to professional services. She is a popular conference speaker and author. Her passion is to take the insights that benefit employers and share them in a way that benefits jobseekers
-- a win-win for all parties. Find her on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ericarklein/. Erica tweets job search tips at
@EricaKleinPhD #jobsearch. Dr. Klein can be reached by e-mail at
The contents of this site are Copyright (c)
1995-2013 North Bridge Group, Inc.
All rights reserved.
This material is for personal use only. Republication and redissemination,
including posting to news groups, is expressly prohibited without prior written consent.
Ask The Headhunter, Fearless Job Hunting, the ATH logo and other ATH titles are trademarks or registered trademarks of North Bridge Group, Inc. and
Nick A. Corcodilos.
agreement, legal information and disclaimer.