Employment Skills Testing

by Neil Kokemuller

Employment skills tests are used by employers as an additional screening tool to see that a candidate has the necessary knowledge and skills to do a job. Some employers also use tests to identify training gaps and to establish a basic benchmark of abilities for a given position. As an employee, the prospect of testing may not excite you, but it can ensure you land in a job that matches your abilities well.

Types of Tests

An employer may have you take a specific test gauging your abilities in particular technical or soft skill areas. An office manager would likely take a typing proficiency test, for instance, to gauge word processing speed. You might also take a comprehensive general knowledge test with multiple subjects, such as math, reading, writing and logical reasoning. Other tests include light industrial, clerical and attention-to-detail tests.

Screening Decisions

The impact of employment testing on the hiring process varies. Some companies use the tests to ensure applicants meet baseline qualifications for a position. Others simply use the results as part of the total screening assessment. Sales organizations often use sales proficiency testing to gauge a prospect's natural selling instincts. If you don't achieve a minimum score, you might not get an interview or get hired for the position. Tests given during the screening process help to identify "red flag" skill deficiencies that might not come up in an interview.

Skill Development

Companies may also perform employment skills testing to assess training needs among current employees. This use is especially common when the company wants to expand the roles of employees in a particular department or sets quality improvement objectives. Many computer-based tests analyze the results based on specific topics and questions to provide feedback on lacking skill or knowledge areas. If a test reveals a customer service department collectively lacks in back service resolution awareness, managers can focus additional training in this area.

Other Uses

Some companies use employment tests to certify employees internally to perform certain tasks. Retailer Best Buy requires that employees pass product knowledge tests before working in a particular department. Testing an entire department also allows the company to set a benchmark for scoring that it can use to establish goals with all employees. In qualitative evaluations of skill and knowledge development, repeated tests serve as a tool to measure employee growth and development.

About the Author

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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