Tag Archives: pre-employment testing

Online Testing: Common Concerns About Pre-Employment Tests

One of our posts on our LinkedIn page has recently drawn a lot of attention. Dozens of commenters voiced both compliments and criticisms about TestUP and online employee testing in general. Below, we’ve responded to a few of the comments from those who raised important concerns about the online testing process.

“These attempts to automate the hiring process alienate the rarest of commodities, the passive candidate.”

“Passive” candidates are relaxed, docile people who rarely state their preferences. By this definition, those who identify as passive actually have a great opportunity to showcase their skills in a pre-employment skills test. Online tests give the passive candidate a chance to demonstrate their skills and present themselves as a viable candidate in a lower pressure environment. They have the opportunity to complete the test where and when he or she is most comfortable. Passive applicants may also find great success in jobs primarily involving hard skills, something online employment tests are great at measuring. It’s important to remember that employers seek out different types of people for different jobs.

“Does recruitment testing show a bias to employing candidates who can complete tests rather than do jobs?”

This is one of the most common concerns in regards to online testing. Candidates are often worried that they will be passed up in favor of someone who is not more qualified, but simply “tests better.” It is important here to stress that a hiring decision is not made simply on the score of an online assessment. You will never be denied a job because you missed one question on a math skills test. Companies use online employee testing as an aid in the hiring process, never as the deciding factor.

For jobs that require solely hard skill-oriented work (an entry level position that requires/needs typing notes) scores on an online aptitude test (for this situation, a words-per-minute typing test would be useful) will understandably carry a significant amount of weight. Companies are likely to hire the candidate that scores the highest, as the position is based solely on this skill set. However, these types of jobs are rare, and are often outweighed by more complex positions that require both hard and soft skills. For this type of work, employers consider everything about a candidate – their online employment test scores, sure, but also their past experience, personality, and work ethic. It is a combination of both high performance in hard skills and a proper fit with the company culture that makes an ideal candidate.

“Tests can be learnt and cheated once they are known about… So what if someone steps in my shoes and completes this?”

As can be expected, cheating is a possibility on any online test or questionnaire. Companies can’t look over your shoulder while you’re completing an online test to ensure you aren’t blog post 3 imagelooking up the question on Google or having someone else complete a test for you. But companies utilizing online employment testing are well aware of the possibility of cheating on these assessments, and have taken steps to protect testing integrity:

  • Original questions. To prevent candidates from simply looking up an answer, companies use unique and specific questions (for example, it’s unlikely that you would be able to google the answer to a question that asks you to find the pattern in a specific string of numbers.) Furthermore, many of the questions written don’t have a “correct” answer, so there’s nothing that can be looked up.

  • Time limits. Many online pre-employment tests have a time limit function where companies can see how long a candidate spends on a question. Therefore, if a candidate spends an unusual amount of time on a simple hard skills question, companies can take measures to determine whether or not the candidate was cheating.

  • Follow up interviews. Companies can ask those they suspect of cheating to complete one or two hard skills questions in person.

  • Integrity Score. Companies that use TestUP will have access to each candidate’s integrity score, a system we have developed to discourage candidates from cheating on tests. We compile the score by using a points system, where a candidate is penalized with points every time some action indicates they may be cheating (for example, taking a very long time to complete a test suggests that the candidate may be leaving the test browser to look up answers.)

We truly appreciate feedback from everyone who takes the time to look at and try out testup.com. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any more questions or concerns!

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Pre-Employment Testing: What Job Applicants Should Know About Online Skills Tests

blog post imageAs businesses grow, they look to take on more employees. More and more companies are discovering the cost behind the complex hiring process and are turning to pre-employment tests (online sets of tests that can measure a number of a candidate’s skills) to cut down on hiring costs and reduce employee turnover. Below are some questions first-time users of pre-employment tests may have.

Why do employers use pre-employment tests?

Online employment tests allow employers to gain a more objective view of their candidates. They’ve become a great way to optimize the hiring process for both parties: instead of asking a candidate to come in and interviewing them about their proficiency in Microsoft, the candidate can simply log on, complete a pre-employment test, and share the results with the potential employer. Later, the employer can view all the candidates who have taken the tests, and ask those who have scored the highest to come in and interview. By assessing the candidate’s basic skills beforehand, the employer can use the in-person interview to find out more about the candidate’s personality and determine whether or not they fit well into the company culture.

So, are employers hiring based only on pre-employment test scores?

While pre-employment skill tests are becoming more and more commonplace in the world of recruiting, it’s unlikely they will become the sole factor in a hiring decision. An online test won’t allow an employer to gauge how well the candidate works with current employees, nor does it allow for a full personality assessment. Instead, it allows the employer to filter out candidates that don’t possess the skills necessary for a specific job.

Can’t you cheat your way to a high score?

The possibility of cheating arises every time someone is asked to take an assessment online, as no one is monitoring you while you’re testing. Fortunately, companies are finding more and more ways to combat cheating on online assessments. They do so through a number of methods, such as assigning a time limit to each test so applicants cannot take time to look up answers, writing specific questions that cannot be researched online, or reporting integrity scores, which measure how quickly candidates respond to each question. Employers may also ask potential candidates who score highly to complete a short assessment in person to ensure they have not cheated. In addition, beyond the basic skills tests, it’s almost impossible to look up answers for personality or cognitive tests, as many test questions will not have “right” or “wrong” answers.

What types of questions will the candidate be asked to answer?

The type of assessment an employer will give to a candidate depends on the job the person is applying for. Pre-employment tests can fall into three basic categories:

  • Basic skills tests. These types of tests will measure basic qualifications such as math, verbal, and grammar skills. The difficulty of the tests will vary based on the ranking of the job. Most candidates should expect to take at least one type of basic skills test (those applying for an accounting position, for example, would likely be required to complete a math skills test.)

  • Personality tests. These tests are more complex than the basic skills tests and are usually used to determine if a candidate possesses personality traits in line with the company’s mission and core values. Personality tests can involve a number of multiple choice questions, true/false statements, or agree/disagree statements. Unlike basic skills tests, these tests won’t have a right or wrong answer and are thus harder to interpret. The Myers-Briggs test is one example of a personality test – it uses the candidate’s responses to generate a four letter outcome, with each letter pertaining to a specific trait. Each four letter combination is associated with a number of personality characteristics (you can read sample descriptions of the combinations here.)

  • Cognitive tests. Cognitive tests look to measure a candidate’s reasoning, logic, and problem solving skills. They often go beyond the basic questions you may encounter in skills tests. Some types of cognitive-style test questions include asking test takers to identify patterns in strings of numbers or images, complete an analogy, or pick a word/phrase that does not belong.

A sample of assessment-type questions from each test category can be found here.

By understanding the purpose of pre-employment tests and knowing what to expect when an employer asks you to complete one, you’ll be one step closer to landing that crucial job interview. Have you taken a pre-employment test yet? Share your experience with us in the comments below!

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