Tech & Work

Measure recruits? proficiency with self-administered skills testing

When a prospective employee?s tech credentials seem too good to be true, skills testing can verify his or her skill set with little effort from the hiring firm. This article features some testing products and discusses how they can aid in recruiting.


What do hiring new employees, gambling, and small-cap technology stocks all have in common?

Risk.

At times, some job seekers exaggerate their skills to get a foot in the door of hiring organizations. If a resume is all you or your recruiting staff have to measure prospective employees’ suitability for a position, expending the time and money to bring candidates in for an interview can be a low-return investment. What if their tech merit doesn’t quite live up to their claims or your specific needs?

New York-based company TeckChek has released a series of assessment products that can reduce the costs and risks of recruiting. Through TeckChek’s self-administered, remote test programs, a recruiter can assess an applicant’s IT skills without having to actually meet the candidate. This article examines TeckChek’s testing products and outlines what they could mean for IT recruiting processes.

The product offering
If you’re curious about an applicant’s broad-based technical skills or his or her proficiency in a specific technology, one of TeckChek’s three main assessment products will weigh the applicant’s performance against average percentiles maintained by TeckChek’s assessment program. The assessment products include:
  • TeckChek Complete—an hour-long test covering all aspects of a specific technology.
  • TeckChek Essentials—a 30-minute test detailing certain components of a technology.
  • QwikChek—a 30-minute broad analysis of a candidate’s general technical skills and experience.

According to Ken Strauss, director of assessment consulting for TeckChek, all of the TeckChek questions are multiple choice with five weighted answers—three of which can be correct answers. In short, a test taker gains credit for his or her correct answers and loses credit for wrong ones.

“If they pick a really bad answer,” said Strauss, “they lose a lot more credit than they do for a reasonably bad answer. The goal there is to measure whether or not the test taker has partial understanding of the issue or scenario.”

Much like the GRE examinations for graduate programs, TeckChek questions are adaptive and get increasingly difficult when questions are answered correctly. Usually, these questions come in the form of a problem scenario or, for developers, 10 or more lines of code that they must consider and evaluate. In designing questions, TeckChek experts geared different problems to measure both book knowledge and practical experience accordingly.

The worth of self-administration
The chief benefit of these tests is that they offer a firm the ability to verify a candidate’s abilities without having to spend the time and money to bring him or her into the office. The tests hone the entire selection process by filtering out the less-skilled applicants and allowing interviews to proceed with the most qualified talent pool.

But if these tests are self-administered, how can a recruiting firm be certain that a test taker’s performance was honest and unaided? Actually, they can’t.

While TeckChek does offer proctored examinations, those tests seem to defeat the convenience and efficiency of self-administered tests. According to Strauss, the self-tests’ secure online systems do, however, bar test takers from printing anything from the test, and if any other application or an Internet browser is opened during the examination, the test stops and becomes void. There is no time limit on TeckChek tests, but the time it takes to complete the questions is also monitored.

TeckChek cannot guarantee, of course, that a test taker isn’t huddled around his or her home machine with the telephone or the aid of a group of seasoned IT friends on hand. However, a recruiter does have the option of giving another supervised test to the high-scoring applicant that make it to a face-to-face interview. If the candidate had stellar at-home scores, he or she should then be able to perform comparably well on a similar test during an interview.

Do skills tests work?
So is anybody using proficiency testing with much success? IT staffing solutions provider Directfit has been using TeckChek assessments as part of its service, and according to Vice President of Marketing and Business Development Robert Klein, clients have enjoyed the tests’ “benchmarking capabilities” and skills assessment.

Additionally, according to Strauss, insurance giant MetLife and beauty-product company Avon Products, Inc. have both significantly streamlined their IT recruiting efforts with TeckChek’s proficiency assessments.

What’s your take on proficiency testing?
Are skill tests sufficient ways to gauge a job applicant’s fit for your firm? Do you know of alternative measures for an effective recruiting process? Post a comment below and share your thoughts with your TechRepublic peers.

 

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