Monday, July 28, 2008

Should Job Applicants Study for an Employment Test?

One of the most frequently asked questions I get from applicants preparing to take a pre-employment test is if they can obtain some "sample questions" to study in order to prepare for an upcoming job interview and employment test. As much as I would like to help people, the short answer is "no".

First of all, no test vendor will publicly publish a list of all of the questions on its tests, as it would invalidate the effectiveness of their tests if people could go online and study the questions and be fully prepared with the answers. Second, if you don't know exactly which test the employer is going to administer, one can't possibly study for the questions especially if you have no idea what questions will be asked.

Most important, however, is it will generally waste your time which can be better utilized making sure your resume is up to date, and your references and appearance are impeccable. Your research time will be better spent researching information about the company to which you are applying. Employers will likely be impressed that you did research and know something about their company showing you have a sincere interest in them, and hopefully, they'll have more interest in you.

Theoretically, if you were to have sufficient knowledge of the test they will administer, and you studied to just pass the test, but didn't really fully understand the material, you might fool them to get the job. However, once the employer discovers you don't really have the knowledge they thought you had, they may be disappointed in their decision to hire you and may terminate your employment. That not only costs them money, but puts you back in the same position and possibly missed one or more opportunities for employment elsewhere where you background, education and experience is exactly what they are looking for.

For example, if I had the ability to memorize the answers to the questions to pass the Bar exam, would you want me to be your lawyer? Probably not. You want someone who really knows the law, not someone who just passed the test. It is the same with employers. They administer pre-employment tests to select from candidates who can demonstrate their knowledge of the subject matter necessary to be successful in that job.

Use your time wisely, make the best first impression you can, but don't worry about the pre-employment test or tests that might be administered. If you do well without studying, you'll probably do well in the job and the employer will likely be satisfied with your work. If you don't get the job, studying to pass the test probably wouldn't help you keep the job anyway.