Job Testing: Prep For Your Assessment

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Posted by The Editors on September 12, 2011
Job Testing: Prep For Your Assessment

So you thought exams were over after acing your last Organic Chemistry final, huh? Even popped open some champagne to toast yourself for making it through your last college exam back in May. Not so fast. As it turns out, that college degree doesn’t signify an end to the days of test-taking.

According to the recent Wall Street Journal article, “Job Seekers are Getting Tested,” it’s becoming increasingly common for employers to use tests to assess job candidates’ personality, cognitive ability, and more. The article’s author states that “about 56 percent of companies are using some sort of assessment tool as part of the hiring process this year, up from 48 percent in 2010.”

So why are some employers requiring tests during the interview process? They must know you spent the last four years perfecting the art of filling in those little scantron bubbles! No, they’re doing it to increase the odds of finding a good match for the position in question and a run-of-the-mill interview may not produce all the information needed.

If you were anything like me in college, the next question you might be thinking is, “How do I prepare for an assessment if I don’t know what to expect?”

Here are a few things entry-level job seekers should know to prepare for this new kind of exam:

Don’t be hasty.  
According to the article, tests don’t usually come into play until further along in the interview process or until the list of candidates is short. "When you get down to the last three, they tend to be really impressive, present well, have excellent track records," says one of the article’s sources. "But one of those people is a better fit than the others, and it's at that point that we need the extra information."

Honesty is the best policy.  
Teachers often say they can tell when someone is cheating; most of the time, they’re right. According to the article, companies giving assessments may have scales in place to detect when a candidate is giving false answers.

Plus, you can't force a good match. As much as you want a first job and the joys of independence that come with it, it’s important to find an employer that values you for the person you are. If you have to lie your way through an assessment to increase your chances of getting hired, it could lead to a major disappointment for you and the employer.

Bombing the test doesn't mean you've failed.
Recruiters look for a variety of qualifications when hiring a candidate, so don’t assume a poor performance on one assessment takes you out of the running. Relax and don’t let an assessment phase you. If you’re a person who has never been a good test taker, be sure to shine during the interview, pick great references, and prove your skill with a portfolio of your past work.

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