How do companies use tests?

Companies use professionally developed personnel tests for a wide variety of situations. Some of the major applications are listed below:

1.    Personnel Selection

Tests are used to evaluate job applicants to make a decision to accept or reject them. In selection, the test score leads to a personnel decision that the person hired will be more satisfactory than the person rejected. For example, there are tests that can be used to hire competent managers, successful sales professionals, honest retail clerks, skilled computer programmers and safe drivers, to name a few.

2.     Placement

Personnel tests are also used to make accurate placement decisions. While selection tests are used to make a decision to accept or reject each person assessed, in placement, no one is rejected. Instead, everyone is assigned to available training programs or jobs to achieve the very best fit between each person's skills and the organization's needs. In placement, a test score predicts that a person will be more satisfactory in one job than in another. Placement is a good strategy when there are only a few applicants for the number of jobs.

3.    Career Counseling

Career counseling tests can provide people with useful information about how their thinking styles, personalities and job-related life experiences can either facilitate or inhibit their career development. With career counseling tests, the test takers can begin to learn how to change their attitudes and behaviors in order to better achieve their career goals. They can be taught how to best compensate for their limitations, too.

4.    Vocational Education

Vocational education tests are usually interest inventories. These tests might be used to determine what areas of work students or employees are most interested in, such as mechanical, selling, managerial, humanitarian or scientific fields. Vocational education tests can be used to evaluate which occupational titles and activities appeal to a person. Vocational test scores can be combined with other types of tests (e.g., intelligence and personality) to determine if people's vocational interests match their skills and abilities. If they do match, a person can be encouraged to consider pursuing a particular type of job or career. If they do not match, a person can be motivated to acquire the necessary skills or to seek a more compatible job or career.

5.    Training and Development

Tests are used for training and development, too. They can be used to identify limitations in an employee's job knowledge and work skills. For example, you can use a test designed to identify management trainees to find out if a candidate has the proper math skills, energy level and commitment to become a manager. If a person scores poorly in any of these areas, you may recommend a training program to develop the business skills, motivation and attitudes needed for the demanding position. Hence, the test results can be used to prepare an employee for promotion.

6.    Personnel Research

Employment tests are also used as objective measures of training and development outcomes. For instance, if a cashier scored poorly on a basic math test and then received intensive on-the-job training in math, you would expect a higher test score after training. Similarly, if a job candidate scored poorly on a typing skills test, you would expect the score to improve after he or she successfully completed a typing course. Hence, tests can be used in program evaluation research.