Hiring Assessments 101

Monster Applicant Assessment types - hands on a keyboard with different smiley facesWhat are the different types of assessments and how do they work?

The federal government has traditionally relied on self-evaluation occupational questionnaires that rank applicants based on their training and experience. However, in response to the Executive Order 13932 on modernizing and improving the federal hiring process, agencies are looking to incorporate objective and skills - and competency- based assessments into their selection strategy. This article is intended to introduce readers to alternative types of assessments and to provide examples of how they can be used. Overall, the type of assessment selected should align with an Agency’s hiring goals and requirements for the position. Note, one popular strategy is to combine multiple types of assessments into one comprehensive battery for maximum effectiveness, similar to MonsterGov’s Standardized Assessment batteries, which include skills-based, personality, and situational judgment tests.

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Job Knowledge Tests consist of questions designed to assess technical or professional expertise in specific knowledge areas. Job knowledge tests are used in situations where applicants must already possess a body of learned information prior to being hired. They are particularly useful for jobs requiring specialized or technical knowledge that can only be acquired over an extended period of time. Examples of job knowledge tests include tests of basic accounting principles, computer programming, and financial management. Typically, questions are written in multiple-choice format and there is only one correct answer to each question.

Sample Item: What is the name for the 10- or 13-digit number that uniquely identifies books and book-like products published internationally?

A. Library of Congress Call Number (LCCN)
B. Copyright Registration Number
C. Pre-assigned Control Number
D. International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
E. International Standard Book Number (ISBN)

Situational Judgment Tests (SJTs) present applicants with a description of a work problem or critical situation related to the job they are applying for and ask them to identify how they would handle it. SJTs measure effectiveness in social functioning dimensions (e.g., leadership, conflict management, interpersonal skills, and problem solving). SJT questions and alternatives are typically based on critical incidents generated by subject matter (i.e., job) experts. Scores are based on subject matter experts' judgments of the best and worst responses.

Sample Item: You are a member of a project team. Another member of the team gives you a task that you do not feel qualified or trained to handle. What would you do?

A. Complete the task as best you can.
B. Consult with your supervisor.
C. Ask someone in the office who knows how to do the task to help you.
D. Ask the staff member to reassign the task to a more qualified team member.

Personality Tests are designed to systematically elicit information about a person's motivations, preferences, interests, emotional make-up, and style of interacting with people and situations. Personality can be measured using self-report inventories, which ask applicants to rate their level of agreement with a series of statements designed to measure their standing on relatively stable personality traits. This information is used to generate a competency-based profile, including factors such as flexibility and respect for others, that can predict job performance or satisfaction with certain aspects of the work.

Sample Item: I find it easy to see things from someone else’s point of view.

A. Strongly agree
B. Agree
C. Neutral
D. Disagree
E. Strongly disagree

Work Sample Tests require applicants to perform tasks or work activities that mirror the tasks employees perform on the job. Work sample tests should only be used in situations where applicants are expected to possess the required competencies upon entry into the position. Different types of work sample tests include role plays, oral presentations, and writing assessments. MonsterGov can also provide automated essay scoring for writing assessments. Apply standardized procedures when administering work sample tests to ensure all applicants have a fair and equal opportunity to perform (e.g., same questions/prompts, same testing conditions).

Sample Items:
  • For this exercise, you will assume the role of a new analyst in a small consulting firm that evaluates organizational processes for public and private sector clients. Your supervisor, Chris Carpenter, has asked you to review the attached materials, determine the best solution to the customer’s issue, and orally present your recommendations to him. You will have 30 minutes to review materials and prepare, and 10 minutes to make your oral presentation.
  • The purpose of this exercise is to evaluate your Reasoning, Customer Service, and Writing skills. Please be sure to restate the problem and discuss your findings and conclusions in your report. You will have one hour to review the materials and write your report.

Skills-Based Tests use questions or problems to measure a variety of skills, such as ability to learn, reasoning skills, and language skills, that are fundamental to success in many different jobs. These tests assess applicants’ potential to use cognitive processes to apply knowledge or solve problems.

Sample Item: The bus fare is increasing by 10%. The old bus fare was $20. What will the new fare be?

A. $20
B. $21
C. $22
D. $23

Sample Item: Select the statement that contains no grammar, punctuation, or spelling errors.

A. The Chairman's latest speach was his best.
B. The Chairmans' latest speech was his best.
C. The Chairmans' latest speach was his best.
D. The Chairman's latest speech was his best.
E. None of the above.

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