Leah O’Flynn, Executive Recruiter, IT Division

Leah O’Flynn, Executive Recruiter

Is Testing More Important Than Interviewing?

By Leah O’Flynn, Executive Recruiter, IT Sales & Marketing

Many companies believe testing is more important than interviewing. Testing has long been a part of many evaluation processes from personality testing, character testing and skill set testing. Human Resources often look upon these tests as a requisite part of their screening process. Hiring managers may rely too much on tests.

 

Ironically, a lot of capable and qualified people do poorly on standardized tests. Some people freeze up or let outside circumstance affect their performance. Sometimes candidates with a different cultural background may articulate the answer in a way the test does not anticipate. Testing remains only one part of the story and it may not always tell its part in an informative way.

Testing for particular skills may be a great assessment tool to guarantee a minimum knowledge base. Testing can narrow down a candidate pool by weeding out unqualified candidates. However, hiring managers must keep in mind the applicant’s objective when applying and view the test results as  an informative tool.

For example, a Hadoop programmer position may require collaboration with a back-end team with no customer facing functionalities. It is important to ensure that the pre-screen testing is done in a format that elicits his or her knowledge, without prejudice to their English verbal skills.

Alternatively, if you are hiring for a hybrid IT sales professional, who has predominantly client-facing role, a company will need to assess both business acumen and technical knowledge. Testing may provide a baseline for assessment but a face to face interview reveals interpersonal skills and motivation. Also, checking references is an easy way to learn more about a person’s skill set.

Are you screening out the purple squirrel? Some of the most talented and capable people are adverse by nature to anything standardized. Would Albert Einstein or Steve Jobs have passed your standardized test?

Finally, a talented tech industry professional in development, sales or marketing can learn new skills. Sometimes the right candidate for the job doesn’t have every last skill on the testing sheet, but he or she may be a perfect cultural fit to the team. Also, he or she may have the rolodex needed to make deals come together. Don’t miss the forest for the trees.

So how important is testing in the hiring process and should it be a prerequisite to interviewing? The answer depends entirely on the position, the company, and the timing of the hire.

A large company inundated by resumes for a straight forward position may choose testing as a way to slow down the deluge. An early stage or midsize company that needs to find a nimble and innovative sales engineer or many-hat wearing developer may want to include skill based assessments as part of the interview process without ruling out people before being able to make an overall assessment.

Testing evaluates aptitude and skill set; but, a face to face interview and checking references allows an overall assessment of a candidate’s personality, work ethic, experience and goals. Ensuring quality candidates requires a firm handle on all the elements of the role. It is important to evaluate applicants with tests and an interview but remember that tests cannot reveal a candidates motivation or ability to succeed. A test alone may rule out the rare talent that most companies desire.

About the Author:

Leah O’Flynn, Executive Recruiter, IT Sales & Marketing Division

Leah is an executive IT recruiter at Redfish Technology, Inc. Born in Dublin, raised in New Jersey, her gypsy ways have taken her on many a random journey. Leah has two degrees; one in Journalism and Media Studies, the other in History. Her love of working with people has made her a natural at recruiting.

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