Re: anon letter on predicting sucessful writers

Subject: Re: anon letter on predicting sucessful writers
From: "Wittel, Teresa J." <WITTTJ -at- NCSLINK -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 24 Oct 1997 15:00:00 -0700

>While I'm on the subject, I would like to ask this: How many of your
>companys DO conduct written tests during interviews? Are they written
>tests only, or do you also test their aptitude with software packages?
>How extensive is the testing?

During my 12 years, I have interviewed at several locations. More often
than not I am asked to take a test to demonstrate my writing skills. At
first, I didn't mind, because I was new to the business and I figured it
showed. Then after awhile, I began to get offended by the process since
I felt it was questioning my personal integrity. Although I complied,
it left a bad taste and I would view the company with a prejudiced eye.
Now, however, I am changing my opinion again. Since being on the
opposite side of the interview, I realized how often people do
misrepresent their education/experience/competency level. It is a sad
state of affairs and I still resent the need to do it, but there it
is...we simply can't trust people not to lie.

My current company does present a writing/editing test to each
applicant. However, it is explained to the applicant that the hiring
decision is not based solely on the test result. We take several
factors into account, including experience (incl. previous software
pkgs), samples, Q&A on past problem-solving techniques, personality (the
group fit), etc.,. We do not carp much on which software pkg you have
experience, as long as you understand the basic principles, which are
pretty universal. I like John Posada's comment that it basically
becomes finding out where they hid the commands.

It is interesting to me that many people utterly fail the test. I am
always surprised by this somehow, as the test is not that difficult. To
my mind, as long as some people continue to fail the test we will
continue to offer it.

There are a few legal considerations (HR perogatives) that need to be
addressed before offering an employment test. To our great fortune, we
had a very qualified HR representative who advised us on what was legal
and what was not. Please get expert advice before creating any
employment test.

Teresa Wittel
mailto:WITTTJ -at- ncslink -dot- com
Sr. Information Developer
NCS Education, Mesa AZ

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