The Tests You Didn’t Know About

If you ask job seekers if they’ve ever been tested when applying for a job you usually hear ‘yes.’ Potential employers are using all sorts of tools to measure and evaluate candidates. Personality assessments, typing tests, software proficiency applications, grammar/spelling/math quizzes and the list goes on. These are the tests candidates are aware of. Are they the only tests though? Maybe. Maybe not.

With so many candidates to consider for job openings, recruiters and hiring managers often build their own private tests into the hiring process to help weed out prospects. Maybe they are noting arrival times to an interview, typos in a resume/cover letter, how the candidate behaves while in the lobby awaiting their interview, an individual’s timeliness with follow-up requested in an interview and such. Reviewing candidates this way can heavily influence the opinion of a hiring manager. Passing a test you know you are taking is one thing. It’s more impressive to pass those unknown to you.

I’ll tell you about my secret test. If every candidate I’ve ever interviewed got together to compare notes on their experiences with me they would notice one thing they all have in common. I found fault with each and every one of them. No matter how fabulous I felt candidates were in skill set or presentation, I intentionally criticized something about them and noted what happened. Why would I do that? I’ll tell you. My experience as a manager convinced me one of the biggest obstacles to growing people in their jobs and having a successful environment was an employee’s inability to take constructive criticism. I wasn’t expecting candidates to cave and agree with my take. Not at all. In fact, several times I wouldn’t have agreed with it either. I just wanted to see how they handled themselves when their work, opinion, demeanor and attitude were challenged. Those who were able to respect my logic or counter my opinion in a professional and open minded way passed. Those who got defensive or combative failed. It was that simple. If I felt the person would learn from the experience, I’d let them in on the test they just failed. There were some who were so indignant I didn’t even bother.

For those who may be wondering how to tell when you are being tested, I would encourage you to assume you are and always do your best to be accurate, open minded, timely and professional with your job search and with your careers. It should be the goal whether you know you are being tested or not.

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