Can You Pass the Test?
By Lian Conrad, Case Management Intern
Imagine that as a job seeker, you have just spent the last fifteen minutes working on a job application for an entry level position that you feel would be a good fit with your skills and schedule. After working hard to accurately type in the ingredients of your work history for the job application formula, you think that you are done with the application. However, it gets more complicated. Right as you breathe a sigh of relief and click the “Next” arrow, thinking that you will be submitting the application, you are taken to a new page. It reads: “Please Complete the Following Assessment Required to Complete Your Application. Plan for 30-45 minutes.” With a groan, you contemplate exiting the application altogether but also feel obligated to finish what you started. How does knowing whether or not there are fifty hours in a day relate to functioning as a custodian, server, cashier, or CNA?
This type of scenario happens all too often for job seekers that I work with at Daily Work. Most jobseekers who complete online job applications, expect to fill in their name, contact information, previous work history, skills, resumes, cover letters, references, and a demographic survey. However, what often comes as a surprise is the additional 7-10 pages of “assessments” that follow even entry-level job applications. Typically, these ridiculously long job assessments tend to accompany entry-level hospital and large employer applications such as Regions Hospital, Michael's, Target, Best Buy, and some institutional employers.
Many of the job seekers I help are looking for entry-level careers such as custodial work at hospitals and schools, warehouse stocking positions in retail, or housekeeping and dietary aide positions with nursing homes and other hospitality businesses. While not usually front-line employees, many of these positions serve as supportive positions—helping to secure a quality workplace environment. Many of the applications also prescribe minimum requirements, such as basic English reading and writing skills, ability to follow directions, and a high school diploma. Nowhere in the application does it say that one needs exceptional customer service personalities, a specific set of cultural attitudes and beliefs, or proficiency with American idioms. Yet these implied demands are precisely what some jobseekers face when taking these additional assessments. While it is important that employees understand a company’s values and mission and are able to perform the basic job duties, testing these aspects through obscure and arguably irrelevant assessment screening questions is at best, unfair. Unquestionably, it is screening out excellent potential employees, harming both the employer and the potential employee.
Many of the job seekers I assist do not speak English as their first language, yet can demonstrate conversational proficiency. Such job duties for these types of positions do not require the skill level of the assessment screening questions—in fact, I bet that even some native English speakers or those familiar with U.S. workplace culture feel perplexed by the assessments. In addition, these assessments are incredibly time consuming…making it even harder for time-pressed job seekers to find new or better work and demoralizing them at the same time. I can see how dis-empowering this is for the job seekers with whom I am working. As I try to explain the intention behind the question, I can see confusion in their eyes and in their responses and I feel the same confusion and frustration they do.
Below are some examples of questions I spotted in a job seeker’s assessment for an entry-level janitorial position and for an entry-level warehouse position. While I know companies are always seeking better ways of hiring great employees, the reality is that these assessments for entry-level jobs unfairly disqualify most applicants if they are not proficient in understanding American idioms and workplace culture. Ultimately, these assessments are not culturally appropriate and most importantly, they do not successfully find the best employees for the job.
What’s your experience with pre-employment assessments? Do you think these assessments are a good way to hire entry-level employees…or any other employees? We’d love to hear about your experience!