If you thought tests ended when you finished school, be prepared to be disappointed. Many employers use employment proficiency tests in job screenings for new hires or promotions. While companies use many types of employment tests, proficiency tests typically center on knowledge, abilities and efficiency in basic office tasks.
Proficiency testing is common in office settings, whether you are applying for a full-time, part-time or temporary job. Employers may administer tests during the screening process either at their locations or through a local testing center. Temp agencies use proficiency tests to establish your basic skills. This allows them to match you to jobs in their databases. In either case, you may take a single test or multiple types of proficiency tests.
While general employment tests may assess skills such as math, sales ability and business acumen, proficiency tests typically center on office processes and tools. Common proficiency test categories include typing speed and accuracy, 10-key speed and accuracy, data entry speed and accuracy, adeptness at using Microsoft Office suite products, and basic customer service. These tests are typically used to assess your basic abilities and determine your efficiency at handling everyday office tasks.
Even if you have a disdain for tests, employee proficiency testing does offer you some benefits as a job candidate. Employers usually rely on tests to ensure you have basic skills and to determine your suitability for the job. If you score well, you hold an advantage over job candidates who don't score well. You might even score so high in some categories, such as customer service, that the company will want to aggressively move you up the ranks after you've been hired.
It is important that you are prepared and sharp before taking the test. Hone your typing, 10-key and data entry skills in the days leading up to the test. Take advantage of available materials that can help you prepare for the test, such as study guides or practice tests. Make sure you get a full night's sleep before you take the test, and eat a healthy breakfast. If you are tired, distracted, have an off day or don't perform up to your true abilities, your score might not reflect your actual skill level. This is particularly problematic if you only get one shot at taking the test. Companies may also have minimum thresholds that determine your eligibility for a job. For example, you may score 69 on math skills and fall just below the minimum required score for proceeding to the next step of the hiring process. You can improve your chances of success with proper preparation.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.