7 Types of Assessment Tests for Jobs and What To Expect

Updated April 13, 2023

Companies often use job assessment tests during the hiring and interview process to make sure applicants are good matches for a position. Work assessment tests might evaluate your skills, knowledge or personality. Knowing what to expect from the various types of tests can help you prepare for and pass them.

In this article, we describe seven types of assessment tests for jobs.

What are assessment tests for jobs?

Assessment tests for jobs, also known as pre-employment tests, help hiring managers determine whether a candidate has the skills, work style, knowledge or personality to succeed in a job. Companies use assessment tests to make good hiring decisions, often during the early parts of the interview process. Assessment tests save employers time when hiring, ensure they hire the most qualified employees and minimize the time and money spent training new hires.

An employer might ask you to take an assessment test:

  • With your application

  • After receiving your application to determine whether they should interview you

  • During an interview

The test might be online or in-person. Depending on the type of test, it might be standardized or a homework assignment you must complete and submit.

Related: Employment Tests: What They Are and How to Prepare

Types of job assessments

Assessment tests for jobs vary by industry and company goals. A company hiring a computer programmer, for instance, might want to confirm you have the appropriate coding skills. An organization that hires based on culture fit might test you on your work style or personality. Here are seven types of job assessments you might encounter:

Skills assessment tests

Skills assessment tests measure a candidate's soft or hard skills. A hiring manager might assess soft skills, such as critical thinking, by presenting you with situations and asking you to describe how you might approach or solve them. Examples of hard skills assessments include typing tests and writing assignments. Many companies like using skills assessment tests because they are objective and reliable.

Related: Skill Assessment Tests: Definition and Examples

Job knowledge tests

Job knowledge tests, also called achievement or mastery tests, measure a candidate's expertise in a certain area. Hiring managers might use these tests for jobs that require a lot of experience or highly specialized knowledge. A law firm hiring a paralegal might ask applicants about basic criminal law, whereas an investment firm hiring an advisor might ask about financial management principles. These tests assess your current knowledge rather than your learning ability or potential.

Personality tests

Personality tests measure a candidate's interests, motivation, preferences and interactions. Organizations might use these tests to determine whether an applicant matches their company culture. Examples of commonly used personality tests include:

  • The Big Five Model, which evaluates an individual's extroversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness to experience

  • Motivation tests, which assess motivators such as success, financial gain, identity, power, independence, recognition and status.

  • The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator, which categorizes individuals into one of 16 personal types based on their levels of extroversion or introversion, sense or intuition, thinking or feeling and judging or perceiving.

One thing to remember as you’re discussing your fitness for the company with employers is that the idea of “culture fit” can sometimes be used as a way to eliminate and discriminate against candidates, however unknowingly, who don’t think, act or look like existing employees.

A better alternative concept you might consider speaking to is “culture add,” or your ability to bring fresh and additive ideas and feedback to the team. Culture adds make the company stronger by diversifying the experiences and perspectives of its workforce.

Related: Personality Type Test: Definition and Examples

Cognitive ability tests

Cognitive ability tests measure a candidate's thought processes, such as problem-solving, reasoning, memory and perception. They often come in standardized test form, with multiple-choice, true or false or short-answer questions. Cognitive ability tests include IQ tests and general aptitude tests, which assess verbal, mathematical and logic skills and thinking. Companies might use these tests to evaluate applicants' ability to solve problems or learn new things. They are accurate and highly predictive of a potential employee's performance.

Related: The Importance of Cognitive Ability in Your Career

Emotional intelligence tests

Emotional Intelligence tests measure a candidate's self-awareness, empathy and ability to manage emotions and relationships. These tests are important for jobs that require strong interpersonal skills or leadership. They might include questions that evaluate how employees react to emotional situations or solve sensitive problems. For example, "How would you respond to a friend who is very upset over losing their job?"

Integrity tests

Integrity tests measure a candidate's honesty and dependability. The two types of integrity tests include:

  1. Overt integrity tests ask applicants about their attitudes toward theft, dishonesty and unethical behavior. Example: Have you ever stolen anything?

  2. Covert integrity tests ask applicants about personality traits that show honesty, dependability and respect. Example: Which statement describes you best: I always follow the rules, I sometimes follow the rules, I never follow the rules.

Companies might use these tests when hiring for positions that require high levels of responsibility or reliability. Jobs that might require integrity tests include bank tellers and cashiers, childcare providers, security guards or home healthcare aides.

Related: 6 Interview Questions About Integrity

Physical ability tests

Physical ability tests measure a candidate's strength and stamina. These tests are important for jobs that require heavy lifting or standing for most of the day, such as firefighting or construction. Examples of physical ability tests include:

  • Balance

  • Flexibility

  • Muscular tension

  • Muscular power

  • Muscular endurance

  • Cardiovascular endurance

Companies use physical ability tests to hire employees who will be safe and competent in jobs that require a certain amount of physical labor.

Other work assessment tests companies might give job candidates include medical exams, physical exams, drug tests, background checks and credit checks.

What to expect during assessment tests for jobs

A hiring manager might ask you to take an assessment test online through the company's or a third party's website, via email or in person. Regardless of the platform, the company should provide you with instructions for accessing and completing the test. If any part of the process is unclear, ask the employer.

The test you take depends on the type of assessment and the duties associated with the position. If you are applying for an administrative job, for instance, you might have to complete a skills test to assess your typing speed and accuracy.

If you are applying for a school counselor position, you might have to answer questions describing how you would respond to certain scenarios, so the hiring manager can assess your verbal communication and compassion. Here are some tips for success:

  • Research the company to find information from previous applicants and employees about the testing process. You might find reviews and details on message boards, social media, online communities and professional networking sites.

  • If you are completing the test online or at home, make sure you are well-prepared and take your time. If a company gives you 48 hours to complete a writing assignment, for instance, use that time to put extra thought and effort into your responses.

  • Be honest about your skills, knowledge and preferences, particularly if you are taking a personality or integrity test. Giving truthful answers ensures you fit with the company's culture and will be happy working there.

The hiring manager scores your performance using a grade, rating, percentage or category. They might immediately share your score with you, or they might keep that information private. If you perform well in your assessment test, the hiring manager might tell you that you have advanced to the next round of interviews or offer you the job.

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