More jobs are using candidate assessment tests

Candidate assessment tests are being used by more companies. Be prepared for another layer in the hiring process.

If you’re looking for a job in the future, there’s a good chance you’ll have to take a test. This is on top of submitting your resume and cover letter, and going through an interview process.

The use of candidate assessment tests, which are designed to determine an applicant’s suitability for a role, is on the rise.

According to the Washington Post, nearly one in four businesses now use candidate assessment tests, and this number is expected to grow. Nearly 40% of hiring executives expect their use to become widespread within three years, and 70% expect this to happen within five. Another source says a recent survey found that 49% of C-suite leaders said they plan to invest in candidate assessment tools in 2020.

Why are more employers giving assessment tests?

There are a few reasons for the uptick. One is the increase in the numbers of candidates applying for available roles due to the coronavirus pandemic, because so many people have lost their jobs, combined with the fact that employers aren’t meeting with candidates in person. While these tests were already in use prior to the pandemic, the resulting changes to hiring and employment are driving their use further up.

With so many applicants, “you need filters,” Richard Price, a research fellow at the Christensen Institute, which studies innovation, told the WP. “You’re creating a quasi-audition for jobs.”

Another cited reason is the fact that companies no longer regard the university degree as the ultimate job qualifier, and are looking for alternative ways to measure candidate suitability.

Jacob Hsu, CEO of Catalyte, a company that designs assessment tests for software engineers, says people should not conflate employability with university degrees. He said that if a college degree was the only measure of potential, no one would have ever hired Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, or Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, all of whom dropped out.

And Alex Linley, another CEO of a different company that designs assessment tests, said employers “are starting to recognize that there are people with the talent they’re looking for that don’t come from Harvard or the other colleges they have historically recruited from.”

This all means that job candidates should be prepared to face yet another layer of requirement in their future job hunts.

How to prepare for an assessment test

How can you prepare yourself for these tests? It’s difficult to prep for an exam when you don’t know what will be on it. According to a Harvard Business Review article by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic of ManpowerGroup, they are designed to measure three things: Competence, work ethic, and emotional intelligence. So, you can prepare by thinking about how best to showcase these qualities.

Chamorro-Premuzic also recommends asking the recruiter or anyone you know who works at or has interviewed with the company what type of test the company uses. If you can get this information, you might be able to do some research beforehand. Also, if you know what employers are looking for, you can try to live up to this image. But don’t lie, cautions Chamorro-Premuzic, or you’ll just improve your chances of landing a job that’s not an appropriate fit.

“For instance,” he wrote, “in most cases you would do well to portray yourself as driven, but not to the point of undermining others or behaving unethically. Savvy employers tend to look for moderately high scores on ambition, or a combination of high ambition and altruism. This approach is consistent with studies showing that ‘too much of a good thing’ often has negative consequences.”

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