Ever been quizzed in a job interview? Test prep is difficult when the interviewer moves away from the rote questions and asks you to actually perform the job as a display of your competency. I ran across this great post the other day by Jorden Bartlett¬†and just had to share. She talks about using tests during interviews to assess someone’s ability to actually (gasp!) demonstrate the skills required for the job.

It made me wonder… What sort of tests could we use at work on our own employees? We have technical writers, software engineers, and a super squad of support staff on the operations side of the house. In a recent interview with an electrical engineering candidate, one of our hardware engineers handed the person an electrical schematic and asked them about some of the key features. The person ended up not being able to answer the questions, though they were qualified on paper! However, the first job the person would be tasked with would require an in-depth knowledge of electrical schematics, so it was not a fit for the job.

So, what about the rest of our people?

  • Technical writers
    • Give them a short task to explain step-by-step in writing.
    • If they are attempting to interview for a senior level position, provide them with an error-laden section to mark up and rewrite without providing any additional information on the original task the section was mean to explain.
    • Let an illustrator tell them what they are designing and have the candidate write a short piece as an explanation for the illustration.
  • Software engineers
    • Give them a short piece of code to explain in a computer language they are familiar with.
    • Ask them to find a bug/error in a short section of code.
    • Let them sit with a systems engineer to discuss how the software will interface with the other components and ask them how they would proceed from that point.
  • Accountants
    • Provide a sample balance sheet and ask for a brief analysis of the company’s finances.
    • Let them manipulate sample data using the company’s accounting software.
    • Pretend to be a past-due account and let them try to collect from you.
  • Administrative assistants
    • Ask the person to create a short flyer describing an upcoming event.
    • Give the candidate a phone and ask them to answer it with the preferred greeting, direct the call to another employee, and handle an irate customer.
    • Let the person take meeting minutes from a pretend meeting (complete with action items, due dates, and requests for follow-up information).
  • New managers
    • Have an employee bring them a mock employee relations issue to resolve. Do they ask to use HR as a resource? Do they try to solve it alone? What advice do they give the employee? How do they handle the initial report?
    • Bring in an employee to discuss recent performance issues and consequences.

Okay, so that’s my turn! Think about some of the positions you have to fill in your organization. What sorts of jobs are they? Can you think of ways to give them a realistic skills test based on the job requirements? Leave a comment below and join the discussion!

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  • One thought on “Job interview test-Let’s see what you can do

    1. For admin assistants I give them 15 minutes to do a basic excel spreadsheet (3 columns, 4 rows, 2 equations) and a short business letter from handwriting. During the 15 I have someone call into the interview room, the candidate has to take a message to be typed as an email.

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