I took feedback from one of my favourite senior HR candidates yesterday after an interview. She seemed keen on the role and the business but at the end of the meeting the client had said to her that she would need to complete some online testing.


She reported back to me that whilst she would be happy to do OPQ and Verbal Reasoning she could see absolutely no value in her completing Numerical Reasoning tests. She explained that

a) After completing lots of these tests in the past she knows she is bad at them and wont get any better

b) That she is a HR professional with significant experience and a good track record despite never being good at these tests so what was the value in them.

c) As a HR professional she is not an Accountant and so could see no need to prove her mathematic skills.


I tend to agree with her and will feed this back appropriately to the client but it got me thinking...


What is the point of testing candidates at all once they get past a certain pay grade? I think I can understand the value of it if you are trying to whittle 20 similarly qualified and capable HR Officers (or similar) to a shortlist of 2 or 3 and feel that tests could help you quantify your decision.


But surely at a more senior level it is just testing for the sake of a process (ie "We've always done it").


Or am I missing something.....

Views: 175

Comment by Tim Spagnola on October 5, 2011 at 10:16am
I tend to side with you Jon. At this level, unless there are strong requirements needed for a new technology related task- I don't see where it should be simply 'a part of our process'. It will be interesting to see what your client comes back with after sharing your candidate's hesitance. Especially if it appears to be a fit in all other areas. Have you had other individuals go through this same type of testing before with this client?
Comment by Tom Dimmick on October 5, 2011 at 11:10am

Cognitive reasoning is always a valuable skill.  Mathematical reasoning is a part of it.  Testing is just another hurdle for candidates to cross.  Some firms set a baseline of skills and talents that they require.  Testing is really no different than the requirement for a college degree.  It may not be necessary but it is the client's call.  I would remind the candidate that the only time that a candidate gets to make demands is when an offer is on the table.  Other than that, it is either "Go" or "No-Go".

Comment by Bill Schultz on October 5, 2011 at 1:39pm
I hate those tests too and always suck at the math part.  I just save it for last, throw darts at the answers and try to ace the rest.  To your question, I think a company could get in trouble if they give testing discriminately.
Comment by Francois Guay on October 5, 2011 at 2:20pm



I agree that these tests are better for entry level. Afterwards performance does count and eliminating solid performers with some of these tests only provides companies with inferior candidates. I feel the same way with hos some companies limit themselves with candidates that only come from certain schools or certain backgrounds. What a load of BS. I see it as our job to find the best talent no matter what. So I agree that you should go to bat for your client...good luck

Comment by Sandra McCartt on October 5, 2011 at 2:39pm

I have seen these tests come and go in waves about every 7 to 10 years.  It seems to increase when there is a period of high unemployment and/or when companies start having high turnover.  The test peddlers come out in droves to sell people that they need to test everybody.  They normally do it for several years then realize that the tests didn't improve the turn over rate or that they left a lot of good people on the sidelines or people they want to hire refuse to take the test.


My advice to candidates is just take the test, grit your teeth and do it.  Many times the scoring takes into consideration the type of job the candidate is applying for so if the math piece is low but the other parts are high there is really not a pass fail just an indication of strength and weakness.  Some companies swear by them so it's part of the drill.


We have a local trucking company giving a 200 question test to candidates for 10$ an hour data entry jobs.  They can't figure out why nobody can pass the test.  The ones who have passed it have turned them down when offered the job.  My suggestion was to find a candidate, check the references and forget the goofy test or try them on a temp to perm basis to see if they can do the job.


Jon, i think your candidate should be encouraged to go ahead and take the test.  If she refuses they will probably say, sorry but everybody has to take it so she will be eliminated.  If she takes it and doesn't do well she will be eliminated maybe but at least she has a chance if she takes it.  I don't think they can or will waive it for one candidate.


Comment by Suresh on October 5, 2011 at 2:46pm
Interesting, I tend to agree tests may not catch all the qualities of an individual. Similar to those athletes who don't score well in standardized IQ tests or 40 yard speed, but when the lights are turned on they are best players out there..
This debate is going on in schools too...
Comment by Amber on October 5, 2011 at 3:36pm

It is frustrating when a test is a be all / end all deciding factor, but companys rarely make "exceptions" because then the reason for the testing is moot. Whether or not the tests are completely accurate indicators is a whole different quandry, but if a company is using them then someone has bought into the process and value. I would think it has to be a standardized process and use of the results as far as being on the safe side for any potential discrimination or unfair practices allegations.

I do know that when I worked for a large corporation, we had a pretty large group of employees take the assessments that were being used at that time to select candidates. Interestingly, our "best" employees (and most of the management team) would NOT have been interviewed and/or hired based on the results.

@Tom & Francois: the school piece is another area where it seems that it hardly distinguishes who will be successful, especially in certain types of jobs. I had plenty of graduates from "good" schools who were some of the worst employees - and left me in amazement that they managed to graduate at all! But, as Tom pointed out, it's the client's call.


Comment by Jon Terry on October 6, 2011 at 8:01am

Thanks for the input. I am glad it is not just me.


This particular business is very particular about these tests and I know that I am not going to have any joy persuading them to make an exception on this occasion (A door somewhere in this building sports a bit of a dent from when I previously vented some frustrations as a result of a candidate being rejected because of failed test!)


I set up a Linked In poll on the matter. Early days but at the moment the majority are voting Yes the tests are relevant!!

Comment by Ivan Stojanovic on October 11, 2011 at 7:03am

There is a certain part of the ‘Classic’ IQ test where I am bad at. The part usually refereed to Logic, where graphical elements are used. I am bad at that. Actually I am not bad at that – I simply fail every single question of that part. My ‘Logic’ obviously works slightly different than the logic of the masses. That does sound like a definition of a madness, I know…

If you are insecure of yourself, you would try to avoid a test you know you will be bad at. Regardless of the fact that the result of the test will most likely have almost no influence on the result of the selection process.

Rejecting or complaining about the test is therefore a result of insecurity and fear. In the recruitment process a candidate is very likely to fear if there is something they are not happy to share with a recruiter. Almost any CV allays tells ‘half trues’. It tells the candidates side of a story. If each school (teacher) and each employer (manager) would write your CV – it would look VERY different than what you write yourself. What you really did there, and especially what you DID NOT do, and why  you REALLY left… Just think about it.

Therefore any test, regardless how relevant will tell a smart recruiter something. From candidates perspective, trying to avoid it sends signals to the recruiter…


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