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Aptitude tests are here to stay - get over it!

by Aptitude Tests on 25 Feb 2014 permalink
How do you objectively compare applicants under the same standard? How do you screen out the cheats and the liars from the rest of the pack? How do you check if the skills claimed are current or long forgotten? To answer these questions and more recruiters are now turning to aptitude tests in droves.

An applicant might look very presentable at the interview but perform poorly under stress. There are times where it is not possible or convenient to check references.

How do you compare diplomas from different universities locally and overseas?

So are aptitude tests the answer? Yes and no. Tests can be used to corroborate your opinion about an applicant. Ultimately taking up employment has risks for both parties. Tests should not be used to discriminate on social or cultural background. Senior workers may fail tests that rely too much on memory when in the workplace the required information is readily available. A perfect parrot never makes a good employee. An applicant who passes test with flying colours might in fact be utterly bored in the job because there is nothing new to discover...

It is an art to craft a test which hones in a given topic from different angles to avoid guessing and misunderstanding.

The Myers-Briggs personality tests are cloaked in controversy as people are of two minds as to what it is they are actually measuring. Only 50% of people retested within 9 months will return the same results!

Ultimately if you blindly rely on the results of personality tests during the recruitment process it puts your leadership qualities into question. If you cannot trust your judgment in selecting people who will work under your authority what do they have left to look up to?

Aptitude tests will bring together four types of folks. People who want to practice as they re-enter the job market, candidates sponsored by an employer to undergo a series of tests prior to being called for an interview, recruiters who use online aptitude tests as a benchmark to screen applicants down to a shortlist and finally experts in a given field who give out some of their knowledge by writing a test.

There is an issue whether or not you should allow someone to sit again for the same test. To avoid this some tests providers change the order of questions at random or pick a subset of questions from a larger pool. In that case when we compare the scores of several candidates we are not comparing people who were given the same experience.

So at the end of the day aptitudes tests are neither good or bad - it's how you use or misuse them that makes them one or the other. In a world where everything revolves around Key Performance Indicators and Return On Investment the lure of aptitudes tests gives you the appearance that you have done due diligence. What about sitting down with somebody over a cup of coffee and getting to know that person?


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