Special Assignment

Be ready to be put to the test on your job interview

CREATED Apr 1, 2014

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MILWAUKEE - When Alyssa Sharp applied to be a Marketing Specialist, the H.R. folks put her to work... unofficially.

"They sent me this project that they asked me to do over the weekend," Alyssa recalls.

And before Jesse Robinson landed his executive assistant role, he had to demonstrate he has what it takes, and complete an online exam.  He explains the exam, "Outline the steps that I would take for arranging travel for him, another one was sort of outline my thoughts behind a critical decision within the, within the department and how I would handle that."

The hiring process Alyssa and Jesse went through is increasingly common.  Personality testing has been part of hiring for some time, and now more and more companies are putting your skills to the test.

Matt Stevenson is with Mercer.  He explains, "Now, with you know, computer games and all these sorts of things, you can actually build tests that are more like you walking through a simulation and being given tasks to do."

One potential benefit for prospective hires?  Tests might help you get noticed if you have the talent but maybe not a lot of experience.

"By doing tests online we can now gather all sorts of people who otherwise might have been excluded from a lot of job searches and actually pre-qualify them beforehand," Stevenson says.

Lauren Hodgson, who helped hire Alyssa and Jesse, says testing is a critical part of finding the candidate who is the best fit for each position--more important than what you can read on a resume.

"When we don't do tests, we're kind of taking a, a gamble and that's not something that we're interested in," Hodgson states.

Sanjeev Angrawal with Collegefeed adds, "Your performance on the job typically has very little often times to do with what that GPA was or where the referral came from."

Angrawal created Collegefeed, a website that matches college graduates with employers. because he believes these tests might eliminate good candidates who just don't test well.  However, he acknowledges they can give applicants a good sense of the company and the job requirements. 

Angrawal says preparation is important.  "Read up online, look for whether there are books that can prepare you for these tests.  I'd say talk to people who have been in similar roles."

Alyssa and Jesse each admit they worked hard to get the job, but both liked knowing they were a fit before they even started.

Alyssa says, "It was a little intimidating, but in the end I liked it."

Jesse adds, "For me, it instilled some confidence that I am in fact the right choice."

It's not just company created tests that are popular.  Some job applicants are submitting their standardized test results, like GRE or Collegiate Learning Assessment Scores for prospective employers to consider along with their resume.