Anyone can make a resume look great, but how do you know if a candidate is a truly competent choice for your small business? Incorporating a testing component into the interviewing process helps you weed out the people who spend more time faking their skills than actually improving them. Assess the skills and traits that matter most to the position for the best results
Why You Need to Test Candidates
In the traditional hiring model, you post a job ad and wait for the resumes to flood into your office. You choose the best candidates and hold interviews. It sounds simple enough, but the hiring process is long and potentially expensive. If you hire the wrong candidate, you’re stuck with someone who can’t do the job the way you want it done. Sure, you can fire the ill-equipped team member, but then you’re back at square one, and you’re out a lot of time and money.
Testing candidates’ actual skills instead of trusting that their resumes are accurate can save you big time. You can also maximize employee retention by finding someone who fits well, which saves you money in the long run. By testing applicants before you call them for interviews, you avoid wasting your own time talking to someone who isn’t a good fit for your company. Once you’re working with a pool of the most skilled applications, your interviews are worth your time.
Testing can also save your human resources department time spent screening applicants. Online testing options calculate the results automatically, so your staff doesn’t have to spend hours poring through the assessments or other application materials. Testing streamlines the overall hiring process, so you can get the most qualified person on the payroll as fast as possible.
Deciding What to Test
How do you know what you should assess? Testing is only as effective as the questions on the test, so spend some time drilling down to the key skills you want your employees to have.
Start by looking at the job description or by creating one if you’re hiring for a new position. Look at the day-to-day duties of the person you need for that job. What skills are essential to make those duties go smoothly? Some positions are easy to break down into concrete skills. An accountant needs strong math skills, understanding of accounting principles, and a grasp of basic to advanced accounting skills, depending on the specifics of the position. A computer programmer needs coding skills in the language your company uses. An auto mechanic needs to know how to use tools and must understand the inner workings of cars.
When looking at the skills you want to test, consider what a potential employee must know right out of the gate. Some skills are easy to teach on the job. Others are skills your newest team member needs before they set foot in the office.
Using Psychometric Tests
Psychometric tests help assess how well someone fits with your company, allowing assessment of a candidate’s personality traits, aptitude, behavioral style and mental capabilities to decide if they fit your needs. These assessments are designed to be objective and standardized, so they make the job of comparing the candidates a little easier. They’re also scientific and statistically reviewed, so they are fairly accurate. However, these types of tests don’t test the job-specific skills like using a welder, installing software, or analyzing data.
How to Test the Skills
A computer-based test is a quick, effective screening tool for concrete skills. Assess an applicant’s math skills with a multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank test, or have copy editors answer questions about grammar and usage or choose the best option from multiple edited passages. If you need your customer service reps to have certain computer skills, have applicants take a typing test or a skills test on Microsoft Office programs.
For open-ended questions, opt for short-answer questions. You might write out a mock scenario that the candidate might face in your office, and ask for a response on how to handle the situation. Ask questions about the applicant’s thoughts and opinions regarding different aspects of the job. With open-ended questions, you get a better look at what the candidate thinks. This gives them an advantage over multiple choice tests, where candidates could get lucky with correct answers even if they don’t truly understand the concepts.
Asking for a Sample
Some skills are tough to assess with traditional tests. Creative skills, for example, are rarely easy to test. Ask for a sample of work to see what the applicant can do. If you’re hiring a copywriter, graphic designer or social media expert, ask to see a portfolio of past projects. These actual examples of past work show the skills of each candidate and how well they can use them.
No matter how you test potential employees, your small business benefits by finding the best possible candidates for your needs. You get a better picture of what each candidate can do in the position, so you don’t waste your time, money or energy on people who don’t fit your needs.