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My Medical Device Sales Career

Learn How to Decode the Pre-Employment Test: Part I

Almost all the large companies have their own version of a Pre-Employment Test.  Some of us call them a Personality Test or a Company "Best Fit" Test.  One thing they all have in common is that most companies do value them and yes, they can prevent you from getting the job if you bomb them!  They can also be used as a tie-breaker if they can't decide between two candidates IF there are no other marked performance differences between them. 

Many candidates have a similar response when I mention that they have to take a corporate test.  "So what the heck are these tests?  What's the big deal?  These tests can't really gauge how successful I will be in a company!  What a bunch of crap."  My answer is always, "No, they are not a bunch of crap and more importantly it is a big deal.  If you don't perform very well on the test, BUT you have been doing great during the other interview steps AND your background experience is spot on, then there is usually no need to worry.  On the other hand, If you bombed the whole test or really hit low marks in the important test categories you are almost always counted out.  Sad, but true.

So let me share with you how these tests works.  I often feel if people understand how and why these tests are constructed, they will see why they are valued even beyond the Human Resource Department; it helps decode the mystery of these tests a bit.  You may still not believe in them, but at least you can appreciate the theory behind them.

Typically a company will hire a third party company who centers their expertise in the game of mind science.  Well that is what I call it.  They develop tests that match the company culture and the skill-set requirement of a specific position to that of the job candidate.  I guess you can think of it as sort of a love match test.  Some areas of the test are weighted as more important than others as decided by the hiring company.  For instance, if a position mandates that the job requires a high degree of critical thinking and the candidate is a simpleton and bombs that portion of the test, REGARDLESS of how well he did in the other segments, the candidate will more than likely not move forward in the interview process.

Candidates are never given the results of their tests if they are not hired.  In fact, only some companies share the hiring test results after a person is hired and sometimes not given until at least a year of successful employment.  The results are highly guarded and hiring managers are told not to share the results with independent recruiters.  For that reason most recruiters will either not know the information to share with you or, if they were secretly told the reason by the hiring manager, they are not going to share it with you.  Why risk getting the hiring manager, their client, in trouble and lose the opportunity for future business.  

You might be thinking, "But how does a test indicate my success at that company?"  The answer often rests upon how the tests are CUSTOMIZED for each hiring company.  The third party testing company usually requests hiring managers and executives to complete tests or forms to help identify the type of company culture that currently exists and/or the company culture the executive staff would like to move toward in the future.  In addition, they will be requested to hand select the chain of command right down to the hiring position that THEY CONSIDER a best practice employee; employees that rock and they feel are the stars of their company, an Employee Idol!

So what do they do with their Employee Idols?  They test them!  Yep, they have them take the tests and they correlate their scores to help develop desired result markers to test NEW JOB CANDIDATES against.  Anyone remember that movie, Stepford Wives?   The tests are ONE vehicle to help identify the job candidate who will be the next Employee Idol of the company.  More importantly, it will also help weed out the hiring misfits that take so much time, trouble and hassle to fire after they are hired!  Believe me, unlike the Stepford Wives, they have not concocted a simple Kool-Aid to make these troublesome hires transform into an Employee Idol, at least not yet!  

You are now probably thinking, "Great, I understand how these tests are developed and why they are valued by hiring companies, so what are you going to give me to help me nail the test and get the job?"  Did you notice the Part I in the title of this article?  Simply put, you can never study enough to nail one of these tests in all categories; You CAN do things to help enhance your score (just like prepping for a SAT test).  I will explain why that is and what you can do in Part II of this series; How to Nail the Pre-Employment Test: Decode Part II.

Understanding the premise of these tests and how most of them are developed and valued by most hiring managers will put you ahead of the pack of test takers.  To make things even more confusing for hiring companies, they do have those occasional hires that perform very well on these tests and still become hiring nightmares.  Oops!

So why do some people ace these things and still fail at a job?  Just like people who nail a SAT test and somehow don't finish college with a degree; tests are ONLY ONE factor to consider during the hiring process.  These tests are "only" predictors...and when one reads the Wikipedia definition of Prediction, the word "only" becomes more operative.

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