Do I have to carry out a skills test for candidates who apply to my company?

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Recruiting is time-consuming but beyond the time spent, it is absolutely essential not to make any mistakes in the choice of the new employee because you run the risk of harming the cohesion and efficiency of the teams already in place. Recruiting candidates whose potential corresponds in all respects to the needs of your company, recent or already established, is a very difficult exercise. With this in mind, the skills test that candidates are given can prove to be a very relevant tool.

However, written or oral skills tests have limitations that do not allow them to be considered the alpha and omega of recruitment. It is legitimate for an entrepreneur-recruiter to ask what is the real scope of these skills tests?

The different tests

Written tests?

The skills tests that can be passed to candidates who apply for a specific position in a structure take several forms. These may in particular be written tests, which make it possible to apprehend the level of general culture, the level of corporate culture and sectoral culture of the candidate. These written tests can take the form of fill-in-the-blank exercises, logic tests applied to the area of ​​competence considered, or free expression tests on a subject directly related to the future position.

Oral tests?

But the tests to be passed to candidates can also take purely oral forms. These are scenarios, from sales exercises to individual interviews of an imaginary product, the classic example being that of the sale of the pen lying on the desk. It can also be simulations of telephone interviews with commercial scope or customer assistance. Collective interviews with role plays and presentations are also tests quite popular with recruitment experts.

The scope of skills testing

Written competency tests are tools for identifying a candidate’s personality, through their rigour, application and consistency of their answers. It is also possible to perceive notions such as the ability to express, the level of spelling, or the spirit of synthesis through these written skills tests. Knowledge in a specific field of activity can also be partly apprehended.

The scope of the oral skills tests is a little different. They give the possibility of apprehending the immediate reactivity of the candidate and his capacities of oral expression. Scenarios and group interviews also make it possible to gauge the candidate’s ability to integrate information and transcribe it, as well as their ability to work in a team.

The limits of these tests

However, skills tests, written or oral, have their limits. These limits are inherent in the form of the tests and the timing of the tests. A test of knowledge and skills in a specific field of activity cannot cover all the fields of action in the field. The partial failure of such a competency test therefore does not mean that the candidate does not have certain in-depth knowledge, which was not the subject of the test. The level of stress and shyness when one is subjected to a collective exercise that could lead to a job are also likely to cause some candidates to lose part of their means. The latter are then automatically dismissed, whereas tested differently, then well accompanied and coached, they could have proved to be very competent collaborators. Skills tests are also submitted to candidates at different levels, during group recruitment sessions. The comparisons of results made therefore have a relative value, the candidates not leaving with the same experience or the same knowledge.

Oral or written skills tests are therefore useful tools in the delicate art of recruitment. However, they should not constitute the sole basis for assessing candidates. They must be part of a global approach, which consists of in-depth analyzes of the candidates’ curriculum vitae, taking into account the diplomas obtained, previous professional experience, and individual interviews with the sole purpose of identifying the motivations candidates. It is a question of appreciating in a global way the capacities of adaptation of the candidates to the structure of the company and to the position envisaged. In this perspective, skills tests, both oral and written, represent useful complementary tools. But the selection of the candidate must be done by cross-checking.


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