Going Beyond the Interview: Testing and Work Samples

In part one, we noted that hiring decisions are imperfect. Despite our diligent efforts, it is quite difficult to consistently get the best candidates who stick around long term. We started to look at some ways to go beyond the standard interview process to further screen candidates in the hopes of making better hiring decisions. Now, let’s look at more screening possibilities.test


Skills testing is an area that employers could utilize to screen candidates. This could include specific skills needed for the job, such as language proficiency, specific software proficiency, typing speed, coding, other technical skills, math skills, etc. Any specific skill that is required for the job could be tested, as long as all candidates for a role are treated equally in terms of what is required of them.
Testing could also include physical tests to confirm ability to complete the physical tasks of the job, when appropriate. Remember to be aware that disabled candidates may request reasonable accommodations at any stage of the recruiting process.
Testing could also come in the form of personality testing. Personality tests have the potential to show possible fit with the organization by giving a glimpse into how the employee thinks.

Deeper Review of Candidate Experience and Work Samples

Yet another way to screen candidates is to find ways to review their work or to get more information on their education and experience. Here are some examples:

  • Portfolio reviews. For some types of work, it may be relevant to ask candidates to provide samples of their work so the employer can see actual examples.
  • Reference calls. Reference calls help to verify past employment, but they can also be used to try to gain insight into what the employee was like in previous roles. Employers can call the applicant’s previous employers, even if not specifically listed in a reference list. Not all employers will give you information, but it shouldn’t hurt to ask. (Note: Just because an employer is not forthcoming doesn’t mean its experience was negative; it may simply mean it opts to not provide information on any departing employee.)
  • Sample work projects. In some instances, it may be appropriate for employers to ask applicants to submit a customized sample project as part of the screening process. In these instances, typically, the employer provides a task and asks the applicant to demonstrate how he or she would accomplish it or even create a sample output.

Regardless of what screening options you use, be sure to be consistent in how applicants are treated. In other words, don’t opt for additional screening for only selected candidates for a role. If a screening process is necessary, utilize it for all candidates at that point in the process who have not yet been eliminated from consideration. This helps to reduce the chance of being accused of discriminatory practices.

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