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Understand Employer Assessments

Sometimes employers want potential employees to take pre-employment assessments to evaluate how good a "fit" the job candidate might be for the position they're trying to fill. Assessments are just another way for employers to evaluate a candidate's suitability for the job, much as they might call references, check credit scores, or perform background checks. It's just another tool for finding the best candidate for the job.

Job postings or announcements will usually summarize the type of assessment(s) a candidate may be asked to take. If you've read the job posting carefully, having to do an assessment should not be a surprise.

Assessments may take place at the company’s location, another predetermined site, or even online from any computer.

Assessment types

There are several types of employment assessments (cognitive, physical and motor abilities, emotional intelligence, drug and language proficiency). Two commonly used assessment types are aptitude or knowledge/skills assessments, and personality assessments.

Aptitude assessments ascertain your knowledge about certain topic areas or fields. Answers are usually right or wrong, with no wiggle room.

Personality assessments aim to gauge whether you would be a good fit  in the employer's environment. There are no "right" or "wrong" answers in personality assessments, but the employer may find that you aren't a good match for the job type. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the assessment may have prevented you from getting a job you would have disliked.

General testing overview

What follows are some general guidelines for taking most types of employment assessments.

  • Be well rested.
  • Eat some breakfast, but don't drink too many liquids.
  • Dress comfortably.
  • Arrive at the assessment site early.
  • For a web-based assessment, make sure the log-in information works properly before you start the assessment.
  • Be confident and take a few deep, calming breaths.
  • Read and follow all the instructions carefully. Do not rush through the instructions. Be sure you understand how to answer the questions. Ask the test administrator if you need clarification.
  • It's important to know how you are being graded. Some assessments, like aptitude assessments, do not count wrong answers against you.
  • Read the questions carefully to understand what is being asked. Do not skim.
  • Watch the allotted assessment time. If you finish early, go back and check your answers. If time is running out and you haven't finished, guess the answer.
  • In personality assessments, answer questions as honestly as possible. Don't overanalyze what you think the answer should be.