Skill Assessment Test: Definition, Benefits and Types

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When attending an interview for a job, the hiring manager may use different ways to assess your suitability for the job, and, depending on the role, your interview may involve testing your hard and soft skills. Prospective employers use these tests as objective and reliable tools to determine if you have the necessary skills for the role. Whether you're getting ready for an interview or working in a recruiting role, learning more about this concept could help you prepare for a skill assessment during the hiring process.

In this article, we explore what a skill assessment test is, why they're important in the hiring process, the different types of assessments and how recruiting professionals decide which tests are appropriate for their hiring process.

What is a skill assessment test?

In several ways, a skill assessment test evaluates a person's skills and abilities for a specific purpose. Companies use these tests to understand if you're able to perform essential tasks and undertake responsibilities specific to your job. Usually, these assessments can gauge your level of proficiency for certain skills, thereby clearly showcasing if a candidate is new to a skill or has some extent of mastery in one. While the hiring process may benefit from these assessment tests, they're also useful for assessing current employees.

Related: Written Test for Job Interview: Definition and Preparation Tips

Why are these tests important?

Skill assessment tests can help hiring managers gain an insight into an employee's or candidate's skills and abilities, the results of which companies can use to make important decisions. Below are some of the ways recruiting professionals use assessment tests:

  • Recruitment: Assessment tests can structure the process of elimination to narrow the list of candidates down to those who possess a higher ability to apply their skills to suit the roles, rather than what knowledge they may have or what information they display in their CV.

  • Learning and development: Assessment tests can be vital to the process of training employees to gauge if their training is effective enough for them to apply their skills. It helps determine the learning curve during the training process, aside from its effectiveness.

  • Career development: Tests can evaluate a current employee's skills and abilities. Hiring managers use such tests to determine the performance of an employee, such as when evaluating their prospects for a promotion in an objective manner.

  • Reskill or upskill: A hiring team can use assessment tests to observe and analyse any talent gaps in their system. Tests can generate data to help employers decide whether to organise training to upskill and reskill employees to address talent gaps.

Benefits of skill assessment tests

Below are some of the benefits of using assessment tests:

  • Reducing bias: During the hiring process, certain biases can affect the outcome of hiring decisions. Assessment tests don't take into consideration factors such as gender, age or education because it only assesses a candidates' skills and abilities in a neutral manner.

  • Maintain consistency: Assessment tests provide a standard platform such as a scale for objectively and reliably measuring a candidates' abilities. This allows the results of the test to have clear-cut implications and showcases where the candidate's abilities are on the spectrum of that definition.

  • Create a development plan: HR professionals can use assessment tests to customise and develop plans for employees who may have performance concerns if they aren't getting adequate training or support. The tests provide relevant data that allows them to tailor their development plans accordingly.

  • Employee engagement: Assessments can offer key insights for a company to identify potential areas where employees can become stronger in their skills and abilities by way of specific training. This also affects employee growth, engagement and retention as employees get support, training and recognition in their career progress.

What are the different types of tests?

Hiring professionals may utilise different tests depending on the nature of the job and the criteria that they want candidates to meet during the hiring process. Below are some of the different types of assessments that a hiring team may administer for current employees and during the hiring process:

Hard skills assessment tests

Hard skills are those that a person acquires in formal education and training programmes. Assessment tests that evaluate hard skills focus not on the knowledge that a candidate has, but on how they apply it in a given situation. These tests evaluate skills such as coding languages, typing speed, applying mathematical concepts and writing. The results from these tests provide the prospective employer with useful data about a candidates' abilities to carry out tasks that are typical of the job they're interviewing for.

Related: Everything You Need To Know About Hard Skills

Soft skills assessment tests

Soft skills are skills that are desirable for certain roles, such as communication, active listening and collaborating with others. Such tests evaluate components, such as emotional intelligence, by asking candidates to rate a list of statements or perform a set of creative tasks. Companies also administer personality tests to gauge whether a candidate's personality type fits the role. Additionally, such tests can help a company analyse if current employees can benefit from further training.

Job knowledge tests

One of the most crucial aspects of hiring a candidate is to know if they can handle their daily tasks and responsibilities that are a part of the job. Tests that assess job knowledge evaluate how a candidate performs in such situations, which can help a company understand if the candidate is ideal for the job. Depending on the nature of the test, the candidate may assess a given situation, discuss case studies or in the case of a software developer position, attempt a coding test. These tests focus on current knowledge rather than learning potential and ability.

Cognitive ability tests

While a cognitive ability test may seem similar to a job knowledge test, it differs in the fact that it focuses on evaluating a candidate's thought process, including critical thinking, problem-solving and reasoning. These tests usually consist of multiple-choice questions, true or false and short answer questions. Cognitive tests can also measure how a candidate performs in unforeseen scenarios, their ability to think abstractly and their reasoning skills. Cognitive tests have high reliability and companies can easily administer such tests to many candidates.

Related: Enhance Your Decision-Making With Deductive Reasoning

Interviews

In-person interviews are common during the hiring process. Interviews can complement an assessment, as they can offer flexibility and independently verify the information for a hiring manager to lend credibility to a candidates' profile. Below are two main categories of interviews:

  • Structured interview: In this type of interview, a hiring manager or recruiter carefully chooses questions against precise criteria to evaluate a candidate's profile., and this helps maintain objectivity by reducing bias and can provide consistent data for evaluation. Structured interviews focus on the abilities of a candidate and on predicting performance and behaviour.

  • Unstructured interview: These interviews use open-ended questions that seek to develop a rapport with the candidate through casual conversation. Such interviews can be highly subjective, allowing the interviewer to probe for a deeper understanding of a candidates' explanations.

Related: Common Job Interview Questions and Answers for Freshers and Experienced Professionals

How hiring teams decide which test to choose

When selecting a test to evaluate a candidate's skills and abilities, hiring teams consider several factors to evaluate the most appropriate test for their hiring process and criteria. Below are the steps that interviewers may take to select an appropriate test:

  1. Set expectations for the test: Before choosing a test, companies usually set their expectations of what they want the test to evaluate. The hiring team considers whether the test appraises candidates in the hiring process or current employees, measures particular skills for a role, identifies talent gaps and the number of people to whom they can administer the test.

  2. What skills to measure: Once a company has set expectations, the hiring team considers tests that can measure designated skills or skill sets. This usually involves selecting tests that quantify hard or soft skills, or they can choose a test that can evaluate both hard and soft skills to reduce the time taken to administer them and calculate their scores.

  3. Customise your assessment tool: One of the most important aspects of test selection involves deciding how to customise an assessment test to fit the expectations that a company has regarding what and who they want to test. This can range from preferring tests to have scientific validation, an easy scoring system or having technical support for administering and scoring tests.

  4. Explore the market: Once a hiring team has taken into consideration what they want an assessment tool to evaluate, they can then discuss their requirements with testing companies in the market to compare different tests, the level of customisation and pricing options to find the test that best fits their purposes.

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