the use of such testing is on the rise, she says. “I have a client for
whom we evaluated more than 150 positions, and we had to examine what
were critical skills and the frequency of them for each position,”
notes this Raleigh, N.C.-based marketing manager for the
“We firmly believe that assessments help, in the long-term, to ensure that the best-fit candidate will be successful,” says Poole Equipment Human Resources Director Michael Cranford. The company tests the leading two or three finalists for a position at the end of the selection process, he adds.
How valuable are assessments to
The managerial assessments take about 2 1/2 hours to complete. Through the tests, which Manpower administers, reading and writing skills also are evaluated, though indirectly. “Because of the volume of materials, reading skills will come out,”
But don’t assume people have any of the required skills,
Walker notes that Manpower currently has 400 different assessments, including information-technology ones. What constitutes a typical test for a potential hire? “Besides [job-specific] skills, employers also test for soft skills,” she explains. Those vary, but could include multitasking and problem solving. They could also include “everything from your ability to work with information, to working with people.” An applicant’s thinking styles may also be assessed. “Are you detail oriented, practical, forward thinking? Things like that,” Walker states. Employers also want to find out if potential employees are persuasive and conscientious, she adds.
Even with the information that assessments provide, Walker’s educated guess is that only one in three companies now use the tests, and “that’s probably somewhat generous.” Why? “It’s such a culture change to do this. Some worry that this will delay the hiring process. Some just don’t want to do it,” she observes. And though she doesn’t see—yet—many assessments for scientists and engineers, Walker believes it’s simply a matter of the marketplace becoming better educated about the value of such testing.
C. Kenna Amos, firstname.lastname@example.org, is an Automation World Contributing Editor.