Re: Testing: how long is too long?

Subject: Re: Testing: how long is too long?
From: Kirstin Mercer <kirstin -at- INTERCON -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 9 Jan 1996 17:07:11 -0500

Geoff Hart wrote:

As a past test subject ("testy" if you prefer), and the
related fuss of travelling to interviews in distant cities,
I'd have to say "any test is too much".

I have to completely disagree with you on this.
The company I work for uses two tests for potential
tech writers. Each is a half hour long. Then, the
candidate meets with each member of the Pubs dept.
for about 15 minutes (there are five of us at present).
Total time invested: about three hours, plus lunch

To us, the testing is very important. In a few
instances, we have been completely ready to offer
a candidate a position after interviewing and looking
over samples and resumes, only to find out that
his or her tests were really very inadequate. In those
cases, we feel testing has saved us from making a
potentially big mistake.

As an employer, I would love to grill a candidate for hours
to determine every minute detail of their strengths and
weaknesses, but that's not likely to be a good use of my
time or the candidate's... particularly with multiple

To try to guard against wasted time, it is our policy
to do a short interview over the phone, and review
writing samples before we even think of flying a
candidate in for the tests and in-person interviews.
This strategy also allows us to keep the in-person
interview short since we've all talked to the candidate
over the phone previously.

We've never had a candidate complain about our tests
(at least to my knowledge), and many have told us that
the tests we use are difficult, though fair and complete.
We take this as a compliment. I have been given some sort
of test for each position I've applied for. I would expect

Just my humble $.02...

Kirstin Mercer
Technical Editor
InterCon Systems Corp.
kirstin -at- intercon -dot- com

My opinions aren't
necessarily those of
my boss or my employer.

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