We all think of a job interview as being you and one or more people sitting in an office. They ask questions and you answer them.
At some companies, however, there may be more involved.
Companies may ask job candidates to complete surveys, questionnaires, or assessment tests as part of the interview process. This form of assessment may happen prior to the interview, on the day of the interview, or as a follow-up to the interview.
You may be asked to come in to the company offices for the testing, but they may also mail the materials to you or ask you to go to a particular Web address. In some cases, the testing is carried out by an independent testing company and you are asked to go to the testing company’s offices.
Surprise tests are no fun! When you are called for the first interview, ask the caller about the steps in the interview process. If they mention assessment or psychological testing, ask for the names of the tests to be administered, when they will be administered, and by whom. If testing is not mentioned as part of the process, ask politely if any testing will be done.
The types of tests employers administer are usually well-researched tests designed to give information about an applicant’s aptitude, personality, or knowledge. They may be the same tests you used through your career center at college or through a career counseling service to help you decide your career goals.
If a company asks you to take tests or submit to any procedure that you feel uncomfortable with or doubt if they can legally require of you, seek some professional advice. If you are unexpectedly ask to take a test you are uncomfortable with, request to have the test scheduled for another day (“I’m sorry, I did not expect to have to be here another hour. Can I come back to take this test?”). You can call for advice before you take the test. If rescheduling is not possible, you may need to decide if you are willing to risk the chance your refusal will cost you a job offer.
The Riley Guide provides pointers to legal information about employment and wages in the section “Legal Issues in Employment & Hiring.” You will find The Riley Guide on the Web at rileyguide.com. Your city’s local consumer affairs office or your state’s labor department may also be able to answer your questions.
“Testing and Other Assessment: Helping You Make Better Career Decisions,” is a publication of the United States Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration that explains different types of assessment tests and gives you examples. Particular attention is given to testing associated with employer compliance in hiring with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It booklet also discusses some of the legal issues involved with employer testing of employees. The booklet can be downloaded from the O’NET web site at onetcenter.org.
Companies may also ask you to take a drug screening test. Submitting to the test may be a condition of employment. If you have philosophical objections to drug screening, include in your company research finding information on whether drug screening is required and do not apply if you are not willing to be screened.