Skills Assessment Tests

When considering potential candidates for an open job, the applicant's resume is the first introduction to their skills, experiences, and abilities. However, certain qualities cannot be fully captured by a resume and thus need a more specific demonstration.

This is where skill assessment tests come in. Chances are, you already use some sort of testing to weed out the best candidates from the merely ordinary. Here is a quick introduction to skill assessment tests and why companies trust them.

What is a skills assessment test?

Skills assessment test are specially designed test used in the recruitment process by employers to assess the skills and abilities of the candidate. These tests demonstrate whether the person has the necessary qualities to fulfill the requirements of the job in question.

Skills assessment tests are frequently assigned after the resume screening stage to narrow down the candidates invited for a personal interview.

Types of skills assessment tests

Recruiting the right candidate for the right job is a challenge, regardless of your industry niche. Quality talent is hard to find and matching expectations is yet another ballgame.

Skill assessment tests are designed to gauge the depth and breadth of certain desirable qualities in the candidate. They evaluate strengths, weaknesses, skill sets, and personality traits using objective parameters that deliver accurate results while being unbiased.

Companies may choose one or more types of tests to understand who they are hiring entirely. The most common skill assessment tests include:

1. Domain tests

These are structured tests that assess the candidate's expertise in the specific domain skills that the job calls for. These tests can be customized to assess abilities in different functions such as sales, marketing, operations, accounting, finance, strategy, product management, and so on. They assess technical and functional abilities as well as a general aptitude for the role.

2. Aptitude tests

Aptitude tests are specifically designed to assess a candidate's professionalism, attitude to challenges, and ability to achieve business goals. They are standardized tests that focus on the candidate's temperament versus their technical abilities or domain knowledge, thus ensuring that the candidate will be the right cultural fit.

3. Communication tests

These assess a candidate's familiarity with the language in which business will be conducted. They usually comprise several oral and written assignments to test the candidate's pronunciation, listening comprehension, grammatical expertise, and general fluency.

The objective is to pick the person who can most promptly and accurately imbibe information and respond to it in the desired language.

4. Psychometric tests

Psychometric tests are scientifically constructed psychology tests that assess the candidate's personality traits, intelligence, and emotional range. They are an excellent way to screen candidates from a large pool of applicants by selecting only those whose psychological makeup will match what the company demands.

5. Behavioral tests

These tests assess how the candidate will behave under different conditions in the workplace setting. From team conflicts to unexpected deadlines to conversations with senior management, behavioral tests help identify, analyze and even predict how candidates will handle pressure and maintain workplace relationships.

6. Technical tests

You can include many questions in MCQ formats for any experience range through a single assessment test to make the test fit perfectly for your job description. From evaluating coding skills and programming languages to software engineering frameworks, such tests help assess the technical prowess of the candidates rather easily.

Advantages of skills assessment tests

Some of the compelling arguments in favor of investing in a skill assessment test include:

1. Early screening out

Skill assessment tests save time for both the recruiter and the candidates by weeding out unsuitable applicants early in the hiring process. This allows recruiters to focus only on those who meet all the skill requirements and also frees up the candidates to apply to other jobs more suited to them.

2. Adding extra credence

Skill assessment tests lend credibility to the recruitment process by reassuring candidates that selection is happening fairly. Be it technical ability, communication skills, leadership potential, or EQ, these tests can ascertain how well an individual meets the requirements and also what kind of training might be helpful going forward.

3. Saving time

Many candidates may have excellent resumes and do very well in the interview, only to reveal significant skill gaps once they are actually on the job. A skill assessment test can spot these weaknesses beforehand and save the recruiter the cost and effort of a wrong hire.

A company's employees directly impact business revenue, and even one poor hire could considerably affect how the business performs. It thus makes sense to structure the recruitment process so that only the most suitable candidates are advanced to each stage.

4. Removing bias

Despite the best intentions of employers, subconscious biases or assumptions may end up coloring their assessment of a candidate.

For instance, employers might be impressed by the candidate's seniority at their current role and be predisposed to hire them, even if another candidate at a less senior level has stronger skills.

Skill assessments help identify those who can actually fulfill all the daily requirements of the job, regardless of their background or their qualifications, thus removing hiring bias of any kind.

5. Periodic evaluations

Skill assessment tests are not just helpful at the recruitment stage. They are ideal for periodically assessing current employees and identifying any training needs that they may have. This helps to equip employees for further growth within the organization and motivates them to put in their best every day.

The popularity of skills assessment test

According to a 2016 Candidate Experience Research report from Talent Board, 82% of companies use pre-employment testing methods.

While skill assessment tests have been around for a long time (some, indeed, dating back to 605 AD), they have gained attention in recent decades as testing methods have become more scientific, accurate, and easily replicable.

Candidates favor these assessment tests as they can be taken from the comfort of the home at the candidate's preferred time. This also makes it much easier for the company to schedule, conduct and collate the results of these tests.

Companies use skill assessment tests in various ways to obtain fair and accurate results about the candidates. Based on the assessment results, companies can make smart, data-backed decisions on hiring and training processes that will benefit both current and future employees.

Some applications of skill assessment tests include:

  • Developing each employee's long-term value
  • Hiring new employees who are the best fit for a job
  • Understanding trends in talent strengths and shortcomings
  • Evaluating current employees for different roles and responsibilities
  • Comparing in-house talent against geographical or industry benchmarks
  • Understanding how well employees are performing in current workplace conditions
  • Identifying specific training needs before organizing workshops or training modules
  • Identifying top performers in each function for recognition and further development
  • Identifying employees with leadership potential who can then be trained for or assigned to managerial roles

For brands looking to test their future employees' abilities in the most scientific and user-friendly way, several skill assessment platforms are available on the market. Compare the features of each and invest in the one that makes the most sense for your hiring goals.

Comparing skills assessment tests with other testing methods

Skill assessment tests are not the only option for assessing candidates. Several other ways to verify the candidate's abilities include resume screening, job interviews, simulation exercises (such as a mock sales pitch), and reference checks.

Most recruiters, in fact, use a mix of these in their hiring process to attract, filter, and hire the most talented candidates for the company.

However, the advantage of skill assessment tests is that it is the only standardized form of candidate testing. They are designed scientifically to test candidates across multiple parameters and present a score on their performance for each parameter.

These tests offer the most objective measure of a candidate's abilities by bringing it down to numbers. And the objective criteria are important because they ensure minimum bias during hiring, enabling only applicants with sufficient on-the-job skills to move forward in the recruitment process. But there is more.

In a job interview or a resume, candidates will be presenting themselves as they want to be seen, which is not always the accurate version of who they are. A HireRight survey, in fact, found that 85% of employers found candidates lying on their resumes.

Reference checks are also subject to the personal bias of the referrer, either for or against the candidate. Job simulation tests are a good indicator of performance but can be expensive and time-consuming to conduct for every candidate.

Skill assessment tests thus stand out as the most efficient, accurate, and cost-effective way of assessing candidates — following which, those who clear the test can be further evaluated through interviews or simulation exercises.

Top Skills Assessment Test Examples

By now, you know that companies resort to conducting skill assessment tests during the recruitment process to identify candidates who are a good match for the open position.

Even if the applicants have demonstrated their hard and soft skills on the resume, complete with facts and references, they may still be required to take the test.

Based on the skills that recruiters wish to evaluate in candidates, there are several formats in which the skill assessment test might be presented. Some examples include:

1. Work sample test

This type of test involves submitting a piece of work similar to the work expected regularly at the job, which will then be assessed on a set of parameters. For instance, if the position is for a graphic designer, the candidate might be asked to submit a brochure design for a product. This is useful for understanding the candidate's domain knowledge and grasp of technical skills.

2. Problem-solving test

This involves presenting the candidate with the sort of problem the job will regularly witness and then asking them to find a solution to it. The candidate will be assessed not only on the accuracy and efficiency of the solution but also on the approach they took. This is an excellent way to evaluate technical skills as well as the candidate's professionalism and analytical skills.

3. Question and answer test

This assesses the candidate's domain knowledge on key areas and ability to process information quickly. For instance, a candidate being considered for the position of copy editor might be given a test covering various aspects of spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

4. Role-playing test

This involves presenting the candidate with a real-life scenario and assessing how well they respond. For instance, for a managerial role, the interviewer may act like an employee who has been consistently late, and the candidate has to deal with the situation in a calm yet firm manner.

What is a skill test in an interview?

Quite often, employers will test the candidate on their hard and soft skills during the interview itself. Interviews are more flexible than skill assessment tests and are thus useful as an aide to more formal evaluations. Interview skill tests can be of two types:

1. Structured

This involves asking each candidate the same set of questions in a precise order so as to maintain objectivity for everyone. The candidate will be assessed on the accuracy with which they answer questions and their general demeanor during the interview, which can help predict future performance as well.

2. Unstructured

This involves creating an individual rapport with each candidate and thus does not rely on prepared questions of any kind. The interviewer may ask questions to get to know the candidate better, and the answers may be recorded for analysis and evaluation afterward.

A common practice is to ensure a judicious mix of the two to determine how every candidate's character is suitable for the job. While too many structured questions confine all the applicants into the same box, too many unstructured questions can lead to a likeability bias.

Skill tests vs. interviewing

Interviews are one of the classic job recruiting techniques, and they make sense in terms of acquainting the recruiter with the candidate in a more personal way than a test.

The problem arises because most interviewers keep asking the same outdated questions to everyone without much consideration for individual personality or background, which could make some candidates more nervous than usual.

This inhibits any actual scope for assessing what a candidate can do. Group interviews are another option for testing things like initiative and communication skills. Still, they tend to favor extroverted candidates over quieter ones who may, in fact, be more suited to the role.

A skill assessment test is valuable primarily because it considers the individual on their merit, not in comparison with the others in the room, to see how far they can go with the company. Plus, it also keeps unconscious bias in hiring at bay by focusing solely on objectivity.

What is in a basic skill test?

Employers often use a basic skill test to test basic verbal and numerical skills for entry-level positions. Two types of basic skill tests include:

1. Wonderlic Basic Skills Test or WBST

This assesses the candidate's ability to understand new things, adapt and solve problems through a set of language and quantitative questions.

2. Criteria basic skill test

This evaluates the candidate's learning ability in the realm of verbal and mathematical skills through various questions on spelling, grammar, and math.

Do skill tests work?

Skill tests undoubtedly have several benefits over traditional methods of screening. Aptitude tests, for instance, can replace resume screening in most cases, as it allows candidates to demonstrate the skills they actually have compared to a resume where many may be tempted to play up what they can do.

It also makes for more accurate hires by giving the recruiter more time to get to know the candidate, compared to options that screen solely based on cover letters and fancy resumes and thus increase the risk of a hasty selection.

Given that the average cost per hire in the US is $4,000, a bad hire can be a rather costly mistake for the company, and this is something recruiters should undoubtedly pay attention to.

However, in order for skill tests to deliver the promised results, they should test multiple facets of a candidate's personality rather than merely the immediate hard skills needed for a job.

Often, candidates may be eliminated based on technical skills even if they have the necessary soft skills to fit well into the company culture and keep learning. This is where a psychometric assessment round can help.

Are skill tests valid?

For any testing method, the question of validity is always likely to come up. In general, a test that mimics exactly what a candidate will do on the job is considered valid. There are several ways to define validity, and some are much harder to assess through standardized tests than others.  Some types of validity that are desirable in tests include:

1. Face validity

This considers whether or not the test is actually assessing what it claims to be assessing. This is perhaps the most basic and easily verified type of validity.

For instance, in an arithmetic test, a set of questions on fractions would be a valid test, while a data interpretation question might be less valid.

2. Content validity

This considers whether or not the test covers a sufficiently broad range of skills to assess adequately whether the candidate can perform what the job requires.

3. Construct validity

This considers whether or not the test measures the theory-based construct that it is supposed to measure. It is an essential form of validity for psychometric or general cognitive tests, as it relates indirectly to how well a candidate can actually perform the job.

4. Predictive validity

This considers whether or not a candidate's performance on the test is indicative of their ability to do well in other aspects of the job.

Do new hires like doing skill tests?

In today's job market, candidates spend about 11 hours a week on the job search process. Scrolling through hundreds of open positions can quickly become frustrating, where every description and interview process seem precisely the same.

By contrast, a skill-based assessment that allows candidates to demonstrate their talents and experiences will be appealing, as it poses a fundamental challenge and gives them the opportunity to stand out from their peers.

It also serves as a break from the sameness of CV submissions and generic interviews, which is refreshing for the candidate even if they are not selected.

Companies that prioritize skill assessment tests and use suitable tools to deploy them will see excellent engagement rates and positive candidate reviews, thus boosting their reputation as a recruiter. Their chances of making bad hires reduce dramatically.

Our top strategies for conducting skills assessment tests

Skill assessment tests are fairly common on the recruitment scene nowadays, and candidates can expect to encounter several of them while job-hunting. Acing these tests requires suitable preparation in addition to having the right skills and abilities. Here are some valuable tips on conducting a skill assessment test:

1. Do your research

Typically, companies will inform shortlisted candidates in advance about the type of test that will be conducted. It is, therefore, imperative to do your research on what such tests usually entail and the kinds of questions you should ask the candidates.

2. Offer practice tests, if possible

Look for similar tests online and check out how much time it requires to complete them. You can even offer practice tests on the company website and inform your candidates about the same. This is especially helpful when the tests are too technical in nature.

3. Answer questions

Both in advance and on the day of the test, do not hesitate to answer any questions candidates may have for you. It avoids assumptions and helps them perform better while demonstrating that you have initiative and that the tests are well-planned.

4. Plan your time and space

Since most skill assessment tests will happen online, it is essential to ensure that you inform the candidates about the same to ensure the computer and Internet connection are working properly that day. If they do not have Internet access, they can make arrangements to work from a coworking space or an internet cafe.

5. List out materials they may need on hand

Even if the tests happen online, the candidates may still need to have their pen, paper, drawing equipment, calculator, and other necessary items ready nearby. If that is the case, send them an email about the list of items they can have with them during the test.

In many cases, they may also need to keep a valid photo ID on hand for authentication before the test. Whatever it is — inform your candidates in advance to avoid the last-minute hassle.

6. Enumerate instructions properly

The fear of the unknown is what makes candidates really nervous while giving the test. While you cannot help them with the questions about to be asked in the test, you can make things easy for them by listing the test instructions thoroughly before the assessment begins.

Please make a note of essential rules, such as the format in which to write answers or the sectional cut-offs for the test, and shoot them an email a day before the test date or on the test date itself.

7. Encourage them to attempt as many questions as possible

It is always wise to attempt as many questions as possible even if candidates are not 100% sure of the answers, mainly if part-marking is offered. However, if there are negative marks for wrong answers, it may make sense to skip the ones they are not confident about.

It is, therefore, wise to give them an idea about the marking system so that they can answer questions accordingly.

8. Take requests for feedback

Let them know if a candidate does not make it past this round and requests your feedback on what they did well and what they needed to improve. Send them a sheet with correct answers, if possible.

This will help them do better the next time they take a skill assessment test at your company. Plus, 36% of candidates expect to be updated throughout the hiring process. By giving them feedback on their test performance, you are helping your company's reputation in the market.

What employers should look for when choosing a skills testing software?

The choice of a skill assessment test for recruitment depends on the qualities the recruiter wishes to assess based on business objectives for that particular job.

Particularly in a post-COVID world where virtual assessments are the norm, the choice of the online testing tool makes a big difference. Here are the features that companies should look for when comparing skill assessment tool options:

1. Ease of use

To save time and quickly assess as large a pool of candidates as possible, the tool should have a user-friendly interface and the ability to customize questions and format as needed promptly.

2. Ease of operation

The tool should allow candidates to be invited based on name, email address, and IP address and schedule dates and times as per the agreement with the candidate.

3. Foolproof testing process

The tool should enable secure AI-based remote proctoring to ensure that candidates have no scope to cheat during the exam. The tool should come with all necessary security measures to ensure fair testing, from ID authentication to blocking other browser windows.

4. Automated reports

After each test, employers should get automated reports on how it went, including access to screenshots and live recordings as relevant. These reports will help recruiters take actionable steps on whom to select for future assessment.

5. High ROI

Any decent pre-employment skill assessment tool will cost a fair sum of money. You need to be confident that the software you choose is worthwhile in terms of the reduced time to hire, increased hiring efficiency, and higher returns overall.

Over to you

Through skill assessment tests, many companies cultivate a healthy competitive culture, fostering positive reinforcement and motivation to excel. This practice is for the organizational benefit. The tests evaluate a candidate's suitability and competency for the job and determine whether they have the drive and expertise to thrive in your organizational setup.

With the help of Adaface, you can optimize the screening process by 80% or more and filter candidates who perform well in the test. You can quickly determine a candidate's suitability, weighing how they would fare and measure up the company's expectations in the long run.

To know more about how Adaface can help you, visit our website today!

Skills Assessment Test FAQs

What does skill assessment mean?

Skill assessment refers to the evaluation of an individual's competency in performing in a specific skill-based job.

What is a skills assessment test?

A skill assessment test is an evaluation process that determines whether or not a candidate has the skills, abilities, aptitude, and attitude to excel at a job role.

What are some skills assessment test examples?

Popular skill assessment tests companies use in their hiring processes include aptitude tests, domain tests, psychometric tests, behavioral tests, and communication tests.

How can one prepare for a skill assessment test?

Candidates should do as many practice tests as possible in preparation for the primary test. If the mock tests are not readily available online, they can ask the recruiter (or point of contact) to give them an idea about the questions they can expect during the test.

What can one expect in a skill assessment test?

Candidates should be fully prepared mentally and psychologically before a skill assessment test. Since they require a demonstration of skills within a designated time frame, they should be taken only when fully prepared.

What are professional skills?

Professional skills include attributes like leadership potential and project management skills that are not necessarily taught anywhere but are innate to the individual.

What are unique skills?

Some of the skills that companies look for through skill assessment tests include technical abilities, communication skills, honesty, work ethic, professionalism, goal orientation, team-playing abilities, and desire to learn.