The chance that you’ll be asked to take some sort of a test or assessment as part of the interview process is greater today than ever before. Companies of all sizes and in all industries, are increasingly using different types of tests (aptitude, personality, handwriting analysis, honesty, etc.) to supplement feedback not confirmed by impressions they form during interviews.
Whether the tests you are expected to take are a valid indicator of your ability to perform a specific job, is a sensitive and controversial issue among human resource, career, and organizational experts.
My client, Linda called me saying in a trembling voice, “I don’t perform well on tests! I’m sunk! I tighten up and break into a sweat! “I’m scared!” We talked about first, relaxing! Then, a few more points:
In most situations, your test results are only one of the factors that will determine whether you’ll be hired. You don’t have to ace the test to stay in the running. You just have to fall within some broad norms. Experienced interviewers know that not everyone who gets good grades in school does well in the workplace. They also know that your basic aptitude is only one of the many factors to consider.
It can be helpful to find out which kinds of assessments you may be asked to take, what the tests are designed to measure, and what, if anything, you can do to ensure that how you perform on these tests won’t hurt your chances.
- Aptitude tests are designed to measure how adept you are at certain physical tasks; or how well you handle certain mental tasks, such as logical equations or problem-solving. The theory behind these is that if you lack specific skills or abilities that are deemed necessary for the job, you’re not going to excel; and would be a hiring risk.
- Unfortunately, you can’t do much to conceal weaknesses that an aptitude test might unearth. BUT, keep in mind that you usually have a wide margin of room for error. Keep in mind also, that if you really don’t have the aptitude to perform a job, it may not be your best fit.
Psychological and honesty tests.
- These have become one of the most common tools used. Typically, you’re given a series of statements and asked to indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree. The statements generally measure your attitudes toward situations and issues that directly or indirectly relate to honesty and integrity.
- Psychological tests (also referred to as personality tests) are designed to measure certain traits and predispositions perceived to underlie a successful performance in certain types of jobs. Again, there is much debate among human resources and other professionals as to the weight they should play in hiring.
- These are designed to test your ability to think and problem-solve; and usually take the same general form as the IQ and SAT-type tests that high school and college students take. If you’ve done well on these tests in the past, don’t worry. There should be few surprises.
- On the other hand, if you’ve struggled with these types of tests in the past or not had them at all, you can get SAT or similar software packages (or online sites) that enable you to take practice runs of the kinds of tests you may be asked to take.
- Depending on the kind of job you’re applying for and the company offering you the job, you may be asked at some point to take a drug test as a condition of employment. You have the right, of course, to refuse to take the test. But refusal isn’t likely to help your chances of being employed. If you’re concerned about privacy issues, you can always ask to have the testing done through your personal physician.
- If you agree to take a drug test, make sure that you give a detailed account of all medications that you’re currently taking. This ensures that the results don’t depict you as something you’re not. Also observe your diet. Certain foods – poppy seeds, for example –can sometimes produce false positives. Consult your doctor for more information.
Don’t’ try to “game” assessments; employers will know inauthenticity. And you don’t know exactly what they want, so answer questions honestly and to the best of your ability. Try tapping your network to ask people who’ve taken them, what they’re like. Find sites where you can practice various assessments. And give it your best shot!
I always welcome your thoughts and insights. Please comment below.