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Assess Mess

Assessment tests can benefit employer and applicant alike

The prevalence of companies testing prospective applicants has been growing and becoming more sophisticated over the past several decades. Today, according to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), approximately 76 percent of organizations with more than 100 employees rely on assessments for external hiring.

For what are they testing? Most job assessments attempt to measure three critical elements of success on the job: competence, work ethic, and emotional intelligence. Many employers believe that these three areas are better predictors of on-the-job success.

Not coincidentally, these are elements that most applicants omit from their resumes and cover letters in favor of experience and education.

Depending on your perspective, assessments can be a good or bad thing. Because they can be administered remotely and scored electronically, they allow the employer to screen a much wider pool of candidates.

In a win-win for employers and applicants, assessments prevent interviewers from accepting or rejecting candidates on the basis of bias.

Another plus for the applicant is that, while the company is assessing you, the test allows you to assess them. What questions are emphasized – as well as what questions are omitted – can tell a lot about the company and the job. The bad news for the applicant is that this is not something you can cram for. According to the HBR, “There’s no easy way to game well-designed tools.”

But for the foreseeable future, these tests are here to stay. HBR claims that global estimates suggest that tests are used for 72 percent of middle management positions and up to 80 percent of senior roles.


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