Interview tests


What should we think of interview tests?

In another set of posts the question of interview tests and psychometric testing was raised. I think that this is an area where a great deal of thought is required.

Many companies will offer their own tests and there really is no advice that can be given on these as they are company specific. All that can be said is that you will most likely be aware that these tests exist and thus you should talk to colleagues and friends who might be able to advise you.

The psychometric testing is another area as these tests are within limits fairly standard across the board. There are many sample tests which you can download from the Internet and these will help although you should try and ensure that you do take these in controlled circumstances.

The real question is one of “are they of benefit?”. I can only give my own answer to that and it is that they are a rough guideline. I myself have been the subject of one and I also have used them in relation to staff. When I saw the results of my won test I thought it was not me as I could not be that good. In respect of staff the results have been a mixed bag so the benefit has been varied.

I think people who are asked to undergo these tests should not be disheartened by the results if they are not good ad they are only indicative procedures but I would like to know what others think. My own view is that you only know your own abilities when working and your employer only knows you through working with you, which is why probation periods exist.


Hmmm I’m a bit torn on this and have been to many interviews where some pretty random tests have been laid out from the group work exercises that can be predicted to unusual test scenarios that they could not be practiced for at all. Exercises such as the in-tray exercises and doing presentations are also making a regular appearance. I take your point, I’m not so sure that these tests are beneficial but I do think that on the whole these tests are an important part of the recruitment process as they allow employers to get a more rounded view of what an individual can and cannot do. I don’t think they necessarily tell an employer as to whether or not the potential employee is particularly intelligent all particularly capable but they do give a much more general perspective on the way the employee is likely work. Take for example the psychometric test, there cannot be wrong answer but it is likely that certain personality traits simply will not work within certain organisations, yet the same individual personality traits may be highly coveted by another organisation.
In reality most employers are going to continue to develop various different tests which they think gives them a better view of the potential employees, yet I’m not convinced that we can necessarily prepare ourselves for all of these and they are much more down to the personality and whether or not the individual is likely to fit into the organisation, which is simply something that cannot be revised for.
Do your best but don’t lose any sleep. Obviously if you know a specific test is coming then it makes sense to prepare but don’t double guess as you’ll get in a right mess!


I’ve got to say I am not a fan of these interview tests. From what I’ve experienced the larger organisations tend to be the ones that are sticking to these interview tests and it may be that they need to use them to narrow down the field of candidates when they have hundreds of applications having a test process that will allow them to take the top 10 or 20%, this will be an easy way for human resources to select a shortlisted group.
Personally I’m not convinced but they do help organisations in picking the best candidates for the job. Not everyone reacts well to exam situations and there may well be excellent candidates that are simply useless in a test environment. I do think that a certain amount of testing can be useful, provided it is used alongside other more subjective factors such as their personal skills and educational background.
The other thing to bear in mind is that these tests are much of a muchness so for those looking for work a lot of practice of these types of tests will put you in a much better position to stand out from the crowd. I don’t think these tests are going away so best we learn how to do well in them rather than moan about how useful they are.


As Stella says these tests are here to stay but do they have value? In my view they are limited. I employ a variety of different people with different targets. There is no one generic test that I can offer them so the question is should offer a series of tests to different people and hope that my interpretation of there answers is accurate. Maybe I should use my instinct when talking to them on a face to face basis. Or is it a question of a balance of both? You see in my view a test is exactly that - a series of questions to which you as the giver is looking for a set answer within prescribed frameworks. Is this fair? Surely the answer is no on the basis that all people are individual and react in a variety if ways.
The best test of anybody is a probationary period and that will in my view always remain so.
However given that the number of applicants for any one has now reached the point where it is necessary to have a “thinning out” process some form of Q & A is probably required.
Nonetheless these tests in my opinion have a limited use and we should treat them as part of an overall picture and not as a defining approach. My slightly jaundiced approach towards testing derives from my sending two members of staff who had diametrically opposed characters and philosophies for a psychometric test with the same company. Interestingly they both came back with almost identical scores. Did the test prove anything - yes. They are not helpful as neither employee was of long term use and both were terminated despite the test saying they were both suitable. My instinct was they should leave and thus good old gut feeling should be respected.


I agree with you Wise Old Head, they don’t really have substantial value and there are much better ways for employers to ensure that they have the correct employees in place, however like it or not they are here to stay and perhaps one of the things they do test is the ability of potential employees to do their research in terms of what test they are likely to face and to practice to such an extent that they perform well. For those who perform well under pressure, I guess these tests are a good thing but maybe some employers should think of different ways of conducting their interviews with them not to lose out on some very good individuals.


When I was in business I would ask people to come and have a formal interview as there was a need to comply with the edicts of the HR (Holy Relics) department. This being done I would normally end up with a couple of candidates who I wanted to feel out a little more. The interview tests prove that a person can answer questions under certain given circumstances and that they may have the ability to present materials in an acceptable format.
However it does not reveal the inner person and does not allow one to truly understand the “guts” of a person. I would invite them to meet me over a drink in a pub where they could be relaxed and that allowed me to see them in non-formal setting, and this often changed my initial view. The whole point is that interviews need ti be both formal and informal and then you know who you are employing. Yes tests have their place but not as a stand alone tool.


Recruitment is not an easy task! Especially when hiring for Technical positions. You need to test the in depth knowledge of the candidate, his decision making style and his skills in detail. You can’t test candidates’ knowledge and management style by one or two interview. Pre-interview assessment tests helps in such condition to find out perfect candidate. Especially descriptive-non objective skill assessment tests helps in better decision making. You can understand the knowledge and the personality, psychology and attitude of the candidate from the way of presentation and the answers given by him. We use ‘’ to shortlist best candidates, and call them for Personnel Interview. And all that candidates selected by me are best in there organisations, thats why my clients live my candidates. (Skill Exam is an online skills testing tool. Here candidate can answers the question by open answer method, than recruiter can match the candidates answer with skill exam’s answer to evaluate the genuine candidates.) So I believe in skill assessment testing to find out genuine candidates. :slight_smile: