3 Reasons Skills Tests Are Great Learning and Development Tools

Skills tests can be useful tools for employers. Find out how they can help your company with employee growth and training objectives.

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Here's what you need to know:

  • Skills tests are tools that you can use to evaluate the hard skills, soft skills, and personality traits of your employees
  • HR teams should include skills tests when creating their L&D strategies both for new employees and current ones
  • Types of skills tests employers use include personality assessments and culture/value assessments
  • Other tests assess programming skills, software skills, and role-specific skills
  • Additional skills tests evaluate language proficiency skills and soft skills

Skills tests can massively help out companies when it comes to the training and development of their employees. They’re tools that HR teams should include when creating their L&D strategies both for new employees and also for current senior employees.

But how exactly do skills tests help out in learning and development? This question and many more will be answered in this article. First, we’ll start with defining what skills tests are.

What are skills tests and what do employers use them for?

Skills tests are tools that you can use to evaluate the hard skills, soft skills, and personality traits of your employees. Skills tests come in different shapes and forms, but they can roughly be divided into the following 7 categories:

Personality assessments

Personality tests will help you evaluate the employee’s character traits. One of the most popular tests in this category would be the 16-personality type test or the DISC test.

Culture/value assessments

Value assessments serve to assess the values match of your employees. It’s not enough for the employee to have the necessary technical skills; they also need to have aligned values to contribute positively to your company.

Programming skills

These types of performance exams evaluate the skill level of your employees when it comes to programming languages. Some of the most popular tests evaluate skills for JavaScript, C#, or HTML5.

Software skills

Software skills don’t include programming languages, but proficiency when it comes to using the software. Examples are marketing platforms such as Facebook or Google and Microsoft Office tools like Excel or Word.

Role-specific skills

These skills tests evaluate employees when it comes to highly specialized technical skills that are essential for the employees to do their job. For example, that would be the skills of an electrician, a plumber, a warehouse manager, or a ship navigator.

Language proficiency skills

These kinds of tests evaluate the proficiency of your employees when it comes to different languages. Most of the language tests evaluate employees on the CEFR scale which has 6 levels. The levels go from A1 (the lowest proficiency level) to C2 (the highest proficiency level).

Soft skills tests

Soft skills tests evaluate employees when it comes to their emotional intelligence. These tests evaluate cognitive abilities, emotional maturity, communication, and teamwork skills.

Why skills tests are great learning and development tools

Skills tests are quite versatile and there are multiple ways to use them. However, when it comes to learning and development, the following 3 ways provide the most benefits:

1. Setting the baseline

The 1st thing the skills tests will provide is the baseline. By baseline, we mean the current level of skills of your entire workforce.

This is an excellent way to understand where your current workforce is. With skills tests, you will understand the proficiency level of your employees when it comes to their workplace-relevant skills.

You won’t be assessing your programmers on how to speak at a B1 level of the Japanese language. Instead, you’ll be giving them tests that evaluate their programming skills.

Do they know how to work in a specific programming language? If so, what’s their proficiency level?

The data that you will receive from these inputs will provide you with the baseline of skills your employees have. With it, you can plan out specific projects that your employees are capable of delivering.

You won’t fall under any kind of bias since you will have test results in front of you and you will know what kinds of skills your employees possess.

This will make you look at your workforce objectively since you will know what kind of projects they can take on and deliver. Without this data, you might overpromise your clients things that you can’t deliver.

2. Objective measurement

Learning and development is hard to measure, let alone to do so objectively. However, with skills tests, you won’t be having that problem.

Once you use skills tests, you will have an objective way of looking at your employees’ skills. How well can they program in a specific language? Let’s look at their test results to see. How well do they speak a foreign language? Again, take a look at their test results.

The best thing about modern skills tests is that most of them are automated and that they provide numerical results.

The best thing about modern skills tests is that most of them are automated and that they provide numerical results. That means you won’t be getting results that are hard to interpret, but a clear number that will indicate the skill level of your employee.

For example, for the question “How well does my employee use HTML programming language?” you won’t be getting the answer “fairly well” or “excellent.”

Instead, you will be getting a number or percentage that will tell you how well they use the language. The result will state something like “7/10” or “70% proficiency.” This will make it easier for you to understand where your employees’ skills lie on the scale.

Not only will you be getting a numerical result, but the results will also be objective. You will provide the candidate with the skills test that’s made by experts and the test scoring will be automatic. So there won’t be any way for bias to come into play.

3. Evaluating results

Imagine the following scenario that happens quite often:

A company realizes that its workforce is missing a specific skill that’s highly relevant to its industry. So they outsource the training to a learning and development company/consultants that promise that they will teach that specific skill to the company’s employees.

Once the consultants do their pieces of training, the company won’t have any way of realizing if the training was successful and if its employees really acquired new skills.

However, with skills tests, you won’t be having those problems. You will assess the baseline skills of your employees. And after the training is done by the consultants, you will retest your employees again to see how well they do after the training.

If there’s a positive difference in test results, it means that the training was a success and that the employees learned a lot. If the results stay pretty much the same, it means that the training failed to deliver for one reason or another.

But you will know immediately if it was successful and if it wasn’t, you can act on that information. It’s better to know that your employees didn’t acquire new skills before you take on a project that will require those skills.

With skills tests, you will also be able to evaluate the results of learning and development training, regardless of whether they’re outsourced or internal.

Use skills tests to evaluate your workforce

Skills tests can provide massive benefits to your entire organization. You can use them for learning and development, but also for assessing your candidates in the hiring process. They’re quite versatile as we saw throughout the article and they can help you out in many ways in the workplace.

For additional helpful information on staff learning and development, check out this post: Employee Training and Development: A Path to Success.

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