What are best practices for applicant performance exams?

Performance exams, i.e., code tests for software engineers, are common tools used by prospective employers to assess a candidate’s aptitude and mastery of the skills required to succeed in a particular position. # Tips for Administering Performance Exams In the job posting, make sure to state that the interview process requires a written or online […]

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Performance exams, i.e., code tests for software engineers, are common tools used by prospective employers to assess a candidate’s aptitude and mastery of the skills required to succeed in a particular position.

# Tips for Administering Performance Exams

In the job posting, make sure to state that the interview process requires a written or online exam.

Applicants will perform best when they’re prepared. You don’t need to provide the questions up front, but a general description will be helpful.

Make sure that each applicant has equal access to any all materials required for the exam. If the exam is administered online for the applicant to take it remotely, you should make sure that the site is active and accessible.
Provide credentials for secure exam sites ahead of time. If the exam is administered in a designated area, make sure the area is prepared, and all materials are available before the applicant begins the exam.

Provide each application with an explanation of the exam duration, guidelines, and expectations. Let the applicant know the basic structure of the exam, and how long they have to complete it. If the exam does not allow them to leave the testing area during the test period, make sure that the applicant is aware.

Be sure that the exam’s setup does not screen candidates in certain groups more than others. Make sure to provide equal accommodations for all applicants. If the exam requires physical activity, it cannot be administered before an offer of employment.

The exam must be offered at no cost to the applicant.

# Exam Design Recommendations

Develop the exam’s content with the help of internal resources who have subject matter expertise. These people will know best what skills are required for the position.
Define a grading rubric with specific guidelines for grading applicants.
Determine a pass/fail threshold for the applicant’s score.
Provide consistent training to all exam proctors.

#Laws to Consider

Some performance tests given before a job offer can conflict with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) if patterns of responses on the test could provide evidence that an applicant could have a psychological impairment. Consult this fact sheet on employment tests created by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and consult your employment counsel for additional information.

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