Job Application Assessments: I “Strongly Agree” That They Are Useless

You are filling out an application for your next potential job. You’ve entered in the vitals, such as your Name, Address, Phone Number(s), and Race. You’ve typed in any Previous School and Employment Experiences that you have had. You are just about set to ‘Send’ this off to the HR department.

Then The Assessment appears. The Assessment is a 20-100+ question section at the back-end of today’s applications, supposedly there to measure such things as how new employees would deal with potential difficult situations in the workplace, what their work ethics are, and how they would handle changes in routines. The Assessment cannot be skipped; applications won’t let you submit them until The Assessment is complete. The format of the questions are multiple choice, with potential answers in some form of the “Strongly Agree/Agree/Neutral/Disagree/Strongly Disagree” format (other forms include “I would ALL of these things…. I would do NONE of these things”).

This is an absolute waste of time to fill out. For starters: how honestly are applicants answering these assessments? For example, if one of the questions in The Assessment is “How would you rate your punctuality? 1 – I am never late to work, 2 – I am only late once a week or less, 3 – I am late a few times a month, 4 – I am late quite often”, how many applicants are going to choose numbers 3 or 4? One question that routinely appears, in one form or another, is: “If a co-worker is upset and being rude to others, including you, how would you answer it?” I’m certainly not going to choose the  “I would give them one warning; if they continued to act rude, I would clothesline them” option… yet some form of “I would retaliate” answer always shows up. Another thing that happens – A LOT – is that questions are repeated 2 or 3 times, but with different wording…. just in case you missed it the first time(s)? An early appearing question would, for example, ask the applicant to mark, from “Strongly Agree” to “Strongly Disagree”, their answer to: “I prefer working in a team environment.” Later on, the question becomes: “I would rather work by myself than with a team.” As a final treat, you would probably see that question near the end of the assessment as: “If asked by my supervisor to work with a particular team, I would enjoy it more than working by myself.”

Instead of The Assessment, ask questions relevant to the job being applied to. Using Target as an example: there could be 10-15 set questions TOTAL dealing with different particulars seen and encountered in the Target Cafe/Starbucks, the Backroom, on the Salesfloor, at Guest Services, or working Overnight (just to name a few of their divisions). Once those questions are answered, the employer could either:
1) bring in a pool of candidates for a short period, letting them experience whatever position they applied for (with trainers/supervisors around to guide them), and hire those who appeared to be the best fit
2) narrow it down further, bring in a  group those whose resumes/work history/school/etc. match what they are looking for the best, THEN ask The Assessment-esque questions to find the for-hires.

There have to be better ways to determine a candidate’s potential than to ask, and repeatedly ask, generic questions at the end of an application, that may or may not be answered honestly.

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