Job search could include skills, personality evaluation

30 percent of companies now say they test potential candidates

By Allison McGinley - News Director

ORLANDO, Fla. - Used to be a college degree or some experience in the industry could get you a job, but now more companies are using skill evaluations and even personality tests to hire and promote.

When Alyssa Sharp applied to be a marketing specialist, the Human Resources folks put her to work unofficially.

"They sent me this project that they asked me to do over the weekend," said Sharp.

And before Jesse Robinson landed his executive assistant role, he had to complete an online exam.

"Outline the steps that I would take for arranging travel for him, another one was sort of outline my thoughts behind a critical decision within the department and how I would handle that," said Robinson.

The testing trend is on its way up.

Web Extra: Tested to Promote?

A recent poll shows one third of companies are now putting candidates to the test before hiring or promoting.

Most tests are online, usually take about an hour, and measure math and verbal skills, decision-making ability, and personality.

Some tests are even designed like video games.

"You can actually build tests that are more like you walking through a simulation and being given tasks to do," explains Matt Stevenson of Mercer a company which helps connect job seekers with companies.

While it may be a bit unnerving to have to test for a job experts say it can help you get noticed if your resume is lacking but you have talent.

"Your performance on the job typically has very little often times to do with what that GPA was or where the referral came from," said Sanjeev Angrawal who created a website that matches college graduates with employers. Angrawal agrees testing is helpful, but worries exams may eliminate good candidates who just don't test well.

So he says preparation is key.

"Read up online, look for whether there are books that can prepare you for these tests," Angrawal said. "I'd say talk to people who have been in similar roles."

As nerve-wracking as it was both Sharp and Robinson are happy to have been put to the test.

"It was a little intimidating, but in the end I liked I," said Sharp.

"For me, it instilled some confidence that I am in fact the right choice," Robinson agreed.

It's not just company created tests that are popular. Some candidates are submitting standardized test results like GRE or collegiate learning assessment scores along with their resume.

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