Hiring is one of the most difficult tasks for many managers. It takes a lot of time and energy, and frankly it’s pretty easy to make a wrong decision, which can end up costing companies a huge amount of money in rehiring and retraining. One way to make the hiring process easier, and to help hiring managers and HR professionals make better hiring decisions, is through the use of employee skill assessment tests.
There are many skill assessment tests available for purchase, but it is also easy to create your own using online tools. Here are 10 secret tips for creating great employee skill assessment tests.
1. Test for skills you care about
The standard tests that are available make assumptions about what skills are important for various positions, but these assumptions may not match the skills you really care about. Just like when writing a job description, take some time to write down the skills that are most important to you, and then test specifically for these skills.
2. Match the tests to the positions
Avoid using the same skill tests for every position in your company. You will learn much more valuable information if you narrow the focus of your assessments. Which leads us to…
3. Keep tests short
Rather than writing one long test for each position, write short tests of individual skills. Then you can mix and match them depending on the job for which you are hiring.
4. Make sure you are testing the right things
By the “right things,” we mean make sure that the test you give is a good indicator of the actual skills of interest. This is called test validity, and if you are writing your own test, it is worth taking some time to learn more about this important issue.
5. Ask practical questions
Since your goal is to find out what the job applicants can do, not just what they know, use as many practical questions as possible. Some skills—like math and proofreading—can tested directly. For others, construct case studies and scenarios and ask applicants what they would do in the various situations.
6. Test soft skills as well
Don’t forget about the soft skills. Problem-solving, critical thinking, communication—these are all essential for many positions.
7. Don’t make it too difficult
This is especially important if you are hiring for lower-level positions. Your test should certainly assess basic knowledge and skills relevant to the field, but don’t expect applicants to know everything (or approach all of the scenarios in the same way that you would) straight away. In addition, give them the resources they would have access to on the job. For example, if the test is assessing their writing ability, let them have access to the Internet, or at least a dictionary, to check word spellings. Do you care if they actually know how to spell a word or just that they get it right in the end? On the job, they would be able to look up words, so there is no reason they shouldn’t be able to on the test.
8. Don’t try to be tricky
The test should be a straightforward assessment, so stay away from trick questions. Your goal is to see what the applicants can do, not fluster them or put them in an uncomfortable situation.
9. Keep legal requirements in mind
Employee skill assessment tests are subject to the same rules and regulations as all other hiring processes in that there are certain types of questions you can’t ask and the tests can’t be discriminatory in any way. Before you use your test, have someone review it from a legal perspective.
10. Use an online assessment creator
Finally, once you have your questions ready to go, use an online assessment creator to actually create the employee skill assessment. By putting it online you can easily distribute it to applicants, reuse and remix test questions as necessary, and take advantage of various features of the test creation software, including automatic scoring.