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Types of pre-employment tests

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Tests we took in school were designed to assess knowledge learned and retained, and to some degree, analytical reasoning as well as creativity. However, there are many other things that assessments can reveal. Tests can uncover what drives, motivates, and even ticks off a person. They can reveal an individual's values, ambitions, and underlying concerns. They can help you understand a person's state of mind and how he or she interacts with the world and the people in it. When you are able to ask people the right questions, you can receive amazing insight into their thoughts, feelings, attitude, and behavior - insight that standard hiring procedures, like interview questions and reference-checking, are not able to access easily.

Here are examples of the variety of tests that are available:

Skill and Knowledge Assessments

Technical Competency

Technical competency assessments are designed to evaluate a person’s skill level or level of understanding in a specific area. Proficiency is determined through self-report or interactive, ability-based questions. With these types of assessment, you can evaluate:

  • Theoretical knowledge: Sales techniques, negotiation strategies, driving rules and regulations, etc.
  • Practical skills: Problem-solving skills, decision-making skills, time management, etc.
  • Level of expertise or experience: Experience in a leadership or managerial position, proficiency in programming languages, etc.

Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Competency

These types of competency assessments evaluate skills and abilities that are essential to social and professional success, often called "transferrable skills". Level of proficiency is determined through self-report, ability, and scenario-base questions. With these types of assessment, you can evaluate:

  • Emotional intelligence
  • Leadership skills
  • Management skills
  • Coping skills
  • Communication skills
  • Soft skills
  • Assertiveness

Psychological Assessments

Personality and Attitude Assessments

These types of tests delve into the core of who a person is. A personality profile is like a fingerprint: It doesn't just define who we are, it is who we are. Unlike tests that assess knowledge, there is no right or wrong when it comes to personality. As such, in order for an employee to thrive, his or her personality needs to be a good match to the work environment. Moreover, while certain traits may be consider a disadvantage in some job positions (e.g. stubbornness), they could be an asset in others.

Personality and attitude assessments come in two forms:

  • Objective: This is characterized by a straightforward form of questioning (e.g. Likert, multiple choice) where a person's answers are compared to a population standard.
  • Projective: The goal of this form of testing is to uncover unconscious influences (fears, trauma, emotions), and was often used in psychoanalytic therapy. Examples include the Holtzman Inkblot Test, or word association exercises. Projective tests have generally fallen out of use.

Aptitude, IQ, and Achievement Assessments

These types of assessments evaluate specific competencies, or skills that are requisites for success in a specialized area of expertise, such as spatial intelligence or sales aptitude. Examples include:

  • Mechanical reasoning
  • Analytical reasoning
  • Verbal reasoning skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Sales aptitudes and styles
  • General or crystallized intelligence
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