Using Tests at work

Many employers use selection tests. For example, about 41% of companies the American Management Association surveyed tested applicants for basic skills (defined as the ability to read instructions, write reports, and do arithmetic adequate to perform common workplace tasks) About 67% of the respondents required employees to take job skill tests, and 29% required some form of psychological measurement. To see what such tests are like try the short test. In figure below to find out how prone you might be to on the job accidents.


Check Yes or No Yes No

1. You like lot of excitement in your life

2. An employee who takes it easy at work
is cheating on the employer.

3. You are a cautious person.

4. In the past three years you have found yourself
in a shouting match at school or work.

5. You like to drive fast just for fun

Tests are not just for lower level workers. For example, Barclays capital gives graduate and undergraduate job candidates aptitude tests instead of first round interviews. In general, as work demands increase (as represented by increasing skill requirements, training, and pay), employers tend to rely more on testing methods in the selection process.

Employers don’t use tests just to find good employees, but also to screen out bad ones. By some estimates, 75% of employees have stolen from their employers at least once; 33% to 75% have engaged in behaviors such as theft, vandalism and voluntary absenteeism; almost 25% say they’ve had knowledge of illicit drug use among co-workers; and 7% of a sample of employees reported being victims of physical threats. Occupational fraud and abuse reportedly cost US employers about $400 billion annually, or about nine dollars per day per employee or 6% of annual revenues. No wonder prudent employers test their applicants. The accompanying feature addresses gender related testing issues.

Outback Steakhouse: Testing isn’t just for large employers. For example, Outback Steakhouse (which now has over 45,000 employees) began using pre-employment tests in 1991, just two years after the company started. The testing is apparently quite successful. While annual turnover rates for hourly employees may reach 200% in the restaurant industry. Outback’s turnover ranges from 40 to 60 %. Outback is looking for employees who are highly social, meticulous, sympathetic and adaptable and uses a test to screen out applicants who don’t fit the Outback culture. This personality assessment test is part of a three step pre-employment interview process. Applicants take the test, and managers then compare the candidates’ results to the profile for Outback Steakhouse employees. Those who score low on certain traits (like compassion) don’t move to the next step. Those who do, move on to be interviewed by two managers. The latter focus on behavioral questions such as what would you do if a customer asked for a side dish we don’t have on the menu.

Test scoring:

Tests come from test publishers, who provide various services to facilitate the testing process. Automated scoring and test interpretation is one such service. Some tests such as the 16PF personality profile, must be personality profile, must be professionally scored and interpreted. The 16PF is a 187 item personality profile psychologists use to measure management characteristics including creativity, independence, leadership and self control. Wonderlic Inc., lets an employer administer the 16PF. The employer then faxes or scans the answers sheet to Wonderlic, which scores the candidate’s profile and faxes or sans back the interpretive report in one day. Today, psychologists also easily score many psychological tests, including the MMPI personality test online or using interpretive Windows based software. Many tests, like the Wonderlic Personnel Test, the manager easily scores him or herself.

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