7 Types of Employment Tests: Definitions and Purpose

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 4 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

After you apply for a job, you might receive instructions for a hiring assessment from the employer. A hiring manager may use this test to learn more information about you to decide if you're the right person for the position. Learning about the tests you can encounter during your job search can help you prepare to meet the hiring manager's expectations. In this article, we explain the purpose of employment tests and the types you may see as you submit job applications.

What are employment tests?

Employment tests are assessments that organisations administer to determine if you're a suitable fit for your desired position. It's often a requirement to receive the test before you're invited to the interview or after you've advanced through the hiring process. Some tests may require you to practise the technical skills you included on your resume, to validate your qualifications for the role. Others may enable you to indicate your personality traits, helping the employer discern if you can perform well in the company's culture. The results of the test can contribute to the hiring decision.

Why do employers use pre-employment testing?

Before extending a job offer, employers deliver tests to help them select the candidate who can best benefit the company. The assessments can streamline the screening phase, where recruiters can make a shortlist of potential employees. For example, if 100 professionals applied for the job, the testing outcomes may identify 15 candidates who meet the employer's objectives.

Work tests can also complement the impressions the interviewer formed after meeting the candidate. For instance, if the prospect communicated a candidate's extensive work experience and industry knowledge, their scores on the evaluation may confirm that they can be a competent employee. Recruiters may also discuss your testing performance during the interview and pose specific questions about your expertise.

Related: Short-Listing Candidates: How To Complete the Process

What are the types of pre-employment assessments?

There are seven types of assessments employers commonly deliver. They include:

Job knowledge

Job knowledge tests acknowledge your transferable skills, where you can easily adapt to the employer's processes by applying the knowledge from your work experience. For example, when hired as a project manager, the employee transfers their instructional leadership and time management skills to manage a new group of professionals. Positive results can exhibit your expertise in your industry and the position you're seeking. The test questions may ask you how to use the software relevant to your role or the ethical standards for accessing confidential information. To earn a satisfactory grade, consider reading the questions thoroughly.

Integrity

Integrity reviews predict your conduct in the workplace. The recruiter may seek assurance that you can be honest with your supervisors and coworkers and adhere to the organisation's ethical standards. The questions often include hypothetical situations where you can describe how you would respond. Answer the scenarios honestly to give employers an accurate insight into your personal and professional values. Here are examples of integrity test questions:

  • What would you do if you witnessed a teammate violating company policy?

  • If a client gives you an expensive item as a gift, would you keep it?

  • How would you react if your manager asked you to perform an illegal act?

Cognitive ability

Cognitive ability refers to the ways you process subjects in your mind. Cognitive tests aim to assess your problem-solving skills, including your teammate's performance when you encounter a complicated task. You can exhibit logical, verbal or numeric reasoning to answer the test questions efficiently. It may be beneficial to research common questions on cognitive tests to practise thinking critically.

Read more: What Is Cognitive Ability and Why Is It Important?

Personality

The outcomes of personality evaluations can show who you are as a person and potential employee. The hiring manager can learn the type of work environment that's ideal for you. For example, if you're introverted, then you might prefer working independently. Extroverted tendencies can signal that you're open to meeting and conversing with new people. Employers may use these tests to decide if you can be comfortable in the company's culture.

Related: What Is a Background Check? What Employers Look For and How To Prepare

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence tests investigate your awareness of your feelings and those of your coworkers. Emotionally intelligent employees can identify when their teammates need encouragement, and they remain calm and persevere when they face work challenges. You might participate in the assessment if you're seeking a leadership role, where it's often important for you to meet the needs of your staff. It can also be a common ritual for companies that prioritise positive relationships with customers and clients. Here are emotions that an emotional intelligence test can reveal:

  • Empathy: Having empathy means being compassionate toward another person's situation and willing to help them improve. An empathetic employee can recognise when their coworker struggles with their tasks and volunteers to teach them the skill.

  • Adaptability: Adaptability is the flexibility to adjust your work style to changing circumstances. For example, if there are new federal workplace safety standards, then you can redesign your audit protocols to teach employees the updates.

  • Teamwork: Collaborating with your coworkers can enable you to complete complex assignments more diligently and learn from their experiences. When you're a team player, you can respect viewpoints that differ from yours and resolve interpersonal conflict.

Skills

Skills tests interpret your ability to perform your desired position. They measure your hard skills, which can include computers or fluency in a foreign language. The results can show how proficient you are in certain areas. For example, in a quiz about search engine optimisation, your scores can show if you're a beginner, an intermediate or an expert.

The questions may also review your soft skills, such as communication and analytical thinking. An example is an employer instructing you to create and conduct a presentation in front of the hiring committee. Here, you can show how you manage your time, think critically about a subject and engage an audience with your public speaking. Throughout your job search, prepare to demonstrate the expertise you discussed on your job application.

Physical

Physical evaluations examine the use of your body, such as strength, manual dexterity and stamina. Their purpose is to assess if you can handle the physical demands of a job, which may include transporting heavy materials or working long hours on your feet. For example, firefighters and law enforcement officials may consent to physical tests to ensure they can respond to emergencies. The employer's objective may be to reduce the likelihood of employees facing injuries in the workplace. As a prospect, you can assure the recruiter that you can commit to physical labour safely and efficiently.

How are candidates tested for employment?

Employers test candidates depending on the position, including its seniority and responsibilities. For example, if you're applying to be a journalist, the news station may administer a writing test to appraise your writing ability for different media platforms. Every company may also have unique hiring processes, which means you may take various assessments although you're competing for the same job. Here are the typical steps of the pre-employment testing process:

  1. Employers deliver specific test instructions. As a job candidate, it's important that you complete the assessment in the exact format and follow the submission guidelines that the organisation specified.

  2. Candidates submit the assessment by a deadline. The acceleration of the hiring phase can depend on how quickly you turn in your answers. Pay attention to the deadline to help you provide an efficient response and receive feedback from the employer.

  3. Hiring managers analyse the results. After you've finished the test, the employer may request time to review how you performed. The length of the waiting period can rely on the assessment type since some tests can have more straightforward results than others.

Related: Everything You Need To Know About Job Application

What is the most popular pre-employment test given?

The popularity of a hiring test can be relative to the industry. For example, physical examinations may be most popular in the construction industry since employees often complete manual labour throughout their shifts. Likewise, skills tests may be most popular in the technology sector as professionals often use specialised knowledge to build and maintain electronic devices. If you're entering a field for the first time, identify trends in the hiring processes for your desired position. You can learn the type of assessments to expect from potential employers and prepare to undergo multiple evaluations if necessary.

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