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Beyond the Job Interview: Personality and Skills Assessments

Whatever happened to the days where getting a job meant mailing a resume to a few dozen different places and waiting to be called in for an interview? Once you got your foot in the door, all that was left to do was impress someone sufficiently enough to get a job offer. Pretty simple stuff, relatively speaking. A little paperwork, a little talk — and maybe a job after that.

Today's recruitment strategies are changing though, particularly when it comes to higher-level jobs. Employers now use a variety of additional assessment tools to ensure they make smart hires that stick around. With a shrinking workforce to choose from, on top of the high cost of recruiting, don't be surprised if you're asked to complete a skills inventory or a personality assessment the next time you apply for a job.

A Growing Trend

According to recent research, approximately 60 percent of companies have increased their use of behavior, personality, and skill assessments in their efforts to secure hires that are better fits for their companies. Their use may extend well beyond the hiring phase as well — some companies use them to help coach and train their existing employees, or utilize the assessment data to pair or group workers into effective teams.

The cost of replacing an employee, particularly one in an upper-management position, can average three to five times their annual salary, but many employers have found that pre-employment assessments can save them significant amounts of time and money. Since studies show that personality assessments can be a reliable predictor of an individual's fit with a company and of their overall performance, it makes sense that some companies are willing to invest in such screening tools to save themselves money in the long run.

Certainly, assessment tools aren't the only thing being used as part of the hiring process and most employers will admit that they may or may not be the deciding factor when it comes to making a hiring decision. Results of an assessment test may contradict or completely support the conclusions of an interview, but ultimately the employer makes a decision based on what they feel is best for their company. However, if they're unsure about a candidate and an assessment supports the idea that they may be a bad fit, it can help finalize a decision.

Taking the High Road

As controversial as they may seem, there aren't any particular assessments that are outlawed at this point, although their use has certainly been tested. For the most part, use of assessment tools that measure things such as mental illness and stability are mostly limited to jobs where mental stability is pertinent to ensuring public safety. Many of the assessments employers are more likely to use measure personality traits, skill levels, and work attitudes — not anti-social tendencies or unusual thought patterns.

Whether you agree with them or not, you do have a choice when faced with a pre-employment assessment. You can voice your complaints and most likely lose out on the job, or you can take the following approach:

  • Treat the assessment seriously. Don't make jokes about it, show up on time, and act and dress professionally. Your attitude and cooperation tell a lot about you.
  • Find out ahead of time how long the assessment is expected to take, and plan accordingly.
  • Keep in mind that the "bigger" the job you're applying for, the more likely you'll be asked to undertake some sort of assessment. You can prepare for such a possibility by familiarizing yourself with some of the more commonly used assessments, so you know what they are and what they assess. In some cases, you can even take practice tests.

If you are faced with taking some sort of assessment as part of a job evaluation, try not to get too stressed out about your results. In most cases, they won't be the only thing on which a hiring decision is made, so a strong resume and interview are still important. If the assessment results do result in your not getting a job, there's a good chance it wasn't a good fit for you anyway. It's not likely a personal reflection on you, but more of a matter of you just not being the right person for the job or the company culture. Keep looking, and the right job will come along.

Source: ResumeEdge

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