What Are Essential Skills Tests in HR?



Danny Kellman
06/13/2014

Employers are always looking to hire candidates that will be the best fits for their organization. However, in the race to get the most highly-qualified candidates, recruiters often forget that having the best educational qualifications does not guarantee that the candidate will be the best hire for the company. To compliment educational qualifications and professional achievements, good candidates need to have basic competencies and the right attitude to ensure that they work harmoniously with their team members and are successful with the company.

This is why essential skills tests are conducted. Candidates or applicants are often required to take written and oral tests that help recruiters understand if the candidates have basic communication, technical and behavioral skills to work successfully under pressure and with other members of the team.

Basic Writing Skills

In any kind of job, you will have to write emails, memos, reports, notes, and other basic forms of communication that are essential for the daily operation of the company. Moreover, even the slightest gap in communication can cause big problems and holdups. Companies are looking for employees who can write well and don’t have to spend a lot of time on written communication. Writing is a basic skill that should come to candidates naturally.

Surprisingly, companies often have to deal with highly-qualified professionals, who have a number of advanced degrees, but cannot write simple emails and other pieces of communication in a coherent manner. Essential skills tests allow companies to understand if candidates have good vocabularies, a basic understanding of grammar and the ability to get their thoughts across easily.

Level of Literacy

Literacy is all about being able to read and understand what you have read. This is of the utmost importance in professional environments. In essential skills tests, candidates are given long passages or even reports to read and summarize. Often times, candidates are also asked to answer questions based on what they have read. These questions may not be straightforward and require candidates to truly understand what they have read. Such tests are created to test the comprehension levels of the candidates as well as their analytical abilities.

Work Well With Others

Employers are looking for job candidates who do not hesitate to become part of the community and who do not have a fear of interacting with others. They want employees who are confident about themselves and who are willing to take charge when they are required to. At work, employees will have to deal with clients and others they are not familiar with. Companies want confident employees who will not shy away from all this.

In essential skills tests, candidates will often be asked to work with other candidates in finishing a task, and they may have to take part in group sessions. This is to test how confident the candidate is when others are present and whether they are overly nervous in social situations. Such basic skills tests are a great way to filter out the best candidates from a large pool of applicants.

Basic Math Skills

We all need basic math skills in our everyday lives and even more so in a professional environment. Just like the skill of writing, the skill of being able to do basic math quickly and without the aid of calculators takes years to acquire and is usually honed when we are all at school. Most essential skills tests are designed to check how fast candidates can correctly complete basic math and logic problems. Companies will not ask you to perform complicated calculus problems in the essential skills test section, even if your domain of work requires you to know advanced math skills. Such core skills are tested in additional interview rounds.

Everybody needs to brush up on their skills, and you would be foolish to ignore math skills before sitting down for an essential skills test. Essential skills tests also often include questions that are designed to test the logical analysis skills of the candidates. Logical analysis is essential in any job profile as employees will have to be able to analyze problems on their own and come up with appropriate solutions. Logical analysis is something that takes experience to develop, but it basically tests candidates’ common sense.

Presentation Skills

Presentation skills are very similar to communication skills and the tests are usually combined. Many companies test the ability of the candidates to present information in a coherent manner. Candidates are tested on whether they are able to hold the attention of the audience, and their level of confidence and nervousness. Presentation skills are not part of essential skills tests for jobs where the employee does not have to interact with clients directly. Presentation skills are, however, tested for those who are vying for marketing and business jobs.

Over to You

What other essentials skills tests would you administer in your specific industry?

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