Job testing is moving online

We have reported previously that one of the arguments for students taking online courses is that they will be better prepared for college and careers. A story in the Washington Post shows how students with online assessment experience may have a leg up on other job candidates. According to the Post, “Online tests are the latest gateway to landing a new job.”

“At T-Mobile and legions of other companies, Web-based tests have become a key gateway to landing a job, a potent screening tool that can effectively bump a résumé to the top or bottom of a manager’s pile. Companies are using these tests to evaluate skills and personalities for job openings at every rung of the career ladder, from bank teller to C-suite executive. They are not merely on-screen versions of decades-old paper employment tests. They are built on the power of big data: Creators have harnessed a massive trove of results to help companies pinpoint the kind of worker who might thrive in a particular job.”

There is a potential downside for some job applicants: “But in a highly competitive job market in a tepid economic recovery, the increased use of online testing could mean that workers who aren’t digitally savvy… might face one more hurdle in getting a job.”

Some people who are concerned about the growth in testing for jobs, college entrance, or other forms of academic or professional career advancement are concerned that a test can’t capture a person’s full traits, skills, and personality. That is certainly true, and is why schools and companies typically use formal assessments as only a part of the screening. Often overlooked in the arguments that prospective schools and employers should accept applicants with the right “feel” or who are the best “overall fit” is that this has been the approach that has resulted in women and minorities being passed over despite being qualified. As the Post reports: “Providers say the tests hold the promise of leveling the playing field for job applicants by removing the chance of bias that comes with a traditional résumé screening. The tests can’t distinguish, for example, if a candidate didn’t attend a top-tier college, is currently unemployed or is a woman or minority.”

Regardless of whether one believe such employment tests are a good idea, they are undoubtedly being used, and students who have experience with online courses and assessments are likely to be better prepared for them.