How Do Career Tests Work?

Career tests are a fact of modern employment and used by many businesses as a support tool in their recruitment and selection processes. The aim of these tests is to identify potentially strong candidates for a particular role by applying science and psychology to the initial stages of the process. This also avoids the employer spending time interviewing those who simply aren't suitable for a role and focusing on likely candidates. In an age of business efficiency and cost-cutting, tests are being used more widely to streamline the recruitment process. So what sorts of tests can you expect to come across when job-hunting?

Career Aptitude Tests

These tests come under a variety of guises and names, but essentially they endeavour to distil different aspects of an individual's interests, skills and educational background into a set of recommended job choices or career paths. Some are experienced at school, when we carry out basic SAT tests. They will give broad information and insight, such as suggesting that those good with spatial awareness, numeracy and logic might be interested in the sciences or engineering. You might undertake this test when applying to a recruitment scheme, attending a careers centre for careers advice, or at a college as part of your training.

Careers personality tests

These are sometimes carried out within aptitude tests, but these measure your personal tendencies and behaviours, in relation to different jobs. Often they seem to be vaguely worded and often repetitive - and some questions may not even seem to be work-based, but they can show whether an individual might be suited to a certain job. For example, office workers tend to be naturally attuned to structure, deadlines, schedules and defined tasks. Trades people on the other hand tend to enjoy changing days, working on their own and under their own scheme and dealing with customers without being directly supervised in their work.

In-house tests

Many employment solicitor and large corporate employers will also have their own aptitude and personality tests that are based on academic models and principles, but geared towards specific roles within their industry. So they might ask situational questions that are relevant to a certain role, or skills questions that relate to real business problems in that line of work. These are often delivered online, either via an app or link, or via a website or extranet and the data will be scored and graded automatically, depending on the variables that the employer has set.

Are these tests valuable?

For every supporter, there is also a test critic. One common negative comment is that careers tests tend to be vague and offer little meaningful insight into which subject is being tested. The results can also be fairly self-evident and better gleaned in an interview situation, rather than isolated in a test scenario. Another problem is that enjoyment and aptitude for a job are not the only factors at play in deciding whether a person is right for a job or not - career decisions, personal lives, competing factors and other unmeasurable variables will play a key part.

Ultimately it seems that these tests are best used to form a guide and starting point for assessing an individual's suitability for a role, rather than defining whether a person should proceed to interview or not. People are far more complex than scientific tests can express and often meeting a person in the flesh, can give an entirely different impression of who they are, than is suggested on the piece of paper churned out by a reporting system.

This guest post has been contributed by Zoe on behalf of Hibberts commercial law solicitors.


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