Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter answers a question from someone who wants to know whether administering a written test to potential hires is a good idea.
The question for today is, "Should we administer a written test to potential hires?"
As I'm recording this, the economy is good and there are labor shortages. Here we have a written test that you want to give to people.
" Oh, We are important. We are the most important firm in our space."
Who cares. Do you think good people are going to sit for your test?
There are 2 ways to test can be administered. The 1st way is at home. I can assure you that good people will take the test and think less of you for having given it to them. "But we need to know if they know anything!" Well, that is what the interview is supposed to be about.
If you let them take the test at home, how do you know that they are taking the test?
"We will have a camera on them!" Who is going to sit through that? Seriously, who's gonna sit through that? It is an invasive thing and they can have someone off camera slipping them notes as they talk about things. Written tests really don't work; they are a turnoff to people.
Your biggest problem is your hiring process and your managers don't know how to interview.
I was coaching someone this week who is up for the chief operating officer role with construction firm. The position reports to the investors and founders of the organization. As he had discovered, he is the 6th person who might sit in that seat in the last 5 years. Do you think the process is broken and what they're doing isn't really serving them? If you don't know how to interview and assess for people, do you think a written test is going to do anything?
"You should be open to that!"
No, he shouldn't. LOL. I do want to say that it is insulting. There is a time waster AND it isn't a lot of fun.. For some professions (and all use IT as an example), the idea of a hackathon Is Competitive and Fun. What you are talking about in the way of a written test… Not fun. Dull. Boring. Obnoxious. You ask extreme questions about obscure things and decide that answering this question correctly demonstrates their knowledge of what they're supposed to know.
In case you haven't noticed, I'm not a fan of written tests. Hackathons on the Other Hand, Are Fun, Competitive. If you can create something fun and competitive for your organization, GREAT! For an HR job? For an administrative assistant job? Come on!
What kind of fun test. Are you going to administer for someone for those kind of roles?
For an accounting position! Okay, let's see how we can bankrupt the firm! Ooooh! That would be a fun game!
Most of you who will create tests won't administer anything that will evaluate for creativity/capability and make an attractive part of the application process. What you're going to do is turn off exceptional talent who will look at your questions and think that you are a dull place to work for. You don't want that to happen. You always want to be marketing and promoting yourself and do it in ways that allow them to feel like you care about them.
I'm not a fan of tests, but if you could make it fun and competitive for people that's going to work and, again, for some people it isn't. You know your corporate culture better than I do. For most talented individuals I know, this will not make your firm and attractive place to work.
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is an executive job search and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years.
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