Monday, July 11, 2011

10 Tests Administered During Job Interviews

In my career, it's not often that one is tested during a screening process or for a job interview. However, I have noticed a lot of private companies or companies that value exceptional talent and have a great interview process do test their applicants. Surprisingly, it has only happened to me a handful of times, but I think it's worth mentioning. It may become a stronger trend to narrow down qualified applicants. I'm shocked more companies aren't doing this in general. Here are the 10 types of tests I've encountered during my job hunts. The first five are pretty common, the last five are rather new.

1) Typing

This test is fairly typical for most admin roles. You are seated in a room at a computer and either have one minute or 3 minutes to type. This test is to gauge how fast you type and how accurately you type. You are given the text and you type it as well as you can. It's pretty self explanatory as there are fool proof instructions given before the test starts.

2) Word

This test is usually multiple choice on a computer as well. There are thirty questions that go from easy to hard. It's given to understand how well you know how to use Word. It starts off with a question of opening a document, saving it, printing it, and editing text, enlarging text to doing mail merge, making labels, and inserting a graph. Sometimes, just by the way the question is worded you can figure out which menu to look under to find the answer even if you don't know.

3) Excel

This test is also given on the computer as well. It tests how well you know how to use Excel. There are usually 30 questions. It will ask you to open a document, write a formula, highlight certain columns, how to insert a row, and other tasks.

4) Powerpoint

This test is also given on the computer as well. It will test how well you know how to use Powerpoint. It will ask you 30 questions ranging from starting a presentation, adding a slide, moving the slides around, inserting an image, etc.

5) Behavorial Role Play

Aside from asking behavior questions to gauge how you would act in certain situations relating to office politics, getting along with difficult co-workers, or how to solve problems, I've interviewed at places where I had to role play certain situations. The hiring manager would give me a hypothetical scenario that would be the worst possible incident at work to solve. Then, I would verbalize to the hiring manager as if they were the client/board member/etc on what I would say. The hiring manager would respond with difficult, unfriendly comments to see how I would handle the situation. We went through a handful of different situations and discussed in detail how I would respond, why, and what I would do next. Incidents ranged from a co-worker who was not pulling their weight, a vendor dropping the ball, miscommunications or misunderstandings regarding tasks.

6) Listening

This test was administered on a computer. There were 30 questions that were multiple choice. It was a male voice with an American accent speaking anywhere from a couple sentences to many sentences about a given scenario. Once he stopped speaking, a question would pop up and you had to choose the correct answer. The difficulty of this test was there was so much information to listen to and keep track because you didn't know what the question would be asking you once the voice stopped. There were so many details to remember because the question would gauge how well you take in information, remember it, and then test you on reasoning, inference, deduction, and what to do next. Some of the questions involved basic math and inferring deadlines based on given information. Other questions were about information that was implied but not stated explicitly. Situations related to dress code, how/what to tell customers, phone messages, seniority, office politics, and other typical situations.

7) English Language Usage and Grammar

This test is also administered on the computer in a multiple choice fashion. There were 30 questions and it tested for writing, grammar, comprehension, and the English language. Typical questions were related to definitions, correct sentence structure, and writing styles related to memos, being concise, and non-sexist language. A couple of examples were the difference between disinterested vs uninterested, between you and me or between you and I, define sexism, and find the sentence that is an example of sexist language.

8) LSAT Logic Games

This test is usually administered in writing so you can graph out the correct answer. I've heard of it being administered verbally, as well in front of a group panel without any option of pencil or paper, or on a computer multiple choice style. There are anywhere from a couple of questions to 20 or 30 and you are given anywhere from 30 min to 2 hours to finish the test. Google "LSAT Logic Games" online to get an idea of what these Logic Games are. They are very convoluted, detailed, and intricate games that test your logic, reasoning, deduction, inference, and your stamina/patience. ;) For anyone that knows anything about the LSAT, the logic games are the hardest part of the test and the hardest part to prepare for because there are a few different types of games and strategies to master them. When I took them, I took the paper form where I was given extra blank paper to work out the problems and had to turn in my work.

9) Writing Memos

This test is usually administered on the computer. You are asked to write one or two sample memos with on a given topic, details of information, and the tone of what the memo should be including the various recipients who will be cc'd, etc. Another variation of this test is to write a sample email or letter to a client or vendor. These types of tests look for grammar, sentence structure, proper formatting, tone, and how you structure your writing including what you leave out, how long your writing sample is, and how long you take.

10) Event Planning

This test is usually administered on the computer in a Word document. You are asked to plan an event from scratch. You are only given your budget, who is attending, and why, the rest of the details are up to you. You are to outline a breakdown of your budget, pitch your event, and also write a memo/email inviting everyone. You are tested for writing, creativity, decision-making, and a whole host of parameters based on whatever it is you come up with.

What other types of tests have you come across? And how often were you told up front the type of test you will be given or were allowed to study for it? Do you have any tips?


  1. Well I don't have a definitive answer yet, but I have to imagine in the world of MAC and google that there will be some companies out there who test on google docs/calendar/apps etc as well as an ability to understand the world of Apple. It's something, as an EA that I need to familiarize myself with, as I'm a PC gal.

    1. The Muser at Musings of a High Level Exec AsstJanuary 22, 2014 at 10:44 AM

      Sarah - I am sure you are correct! Thank you for being a reader and for the comment! Happy New Year!

  2. I've not been given typing test or any test on software efficiency which was conducted using a computer (probably the companies I've attended interviews at do not want the hassle of having to provide a computer for the purpose of interview). Most have a standard application form with questionnaire for applicants to complete stating our level of education and expertise in certain areas i.e. software skills, language skills, etc...

    Anyway, in addition to the standard application form (which is usually quite detailed and consist of a number of pages), some do conduct additional tests and those I've been through are as follows:-
    1) A series of questions where we are given scenarios and we are to provide answers in a few lines/sentences (example of questions i.e. give an example in your career life where you have tried and yet failed, biggest challenge you had overcome, dealing with colleague(s) taking credit of your job, office politics, etc..).
    2) The interviewer gave a scenario where he came to the office and found the security on duty not doing a proper job and wants me to write to the security company.
    3) A mixture of a list of objective questions with multiple choice answers and ends with 2 topics for me to choose on which to elaborate on - I think Topic A was Crime and Morality while Topic B was Environment.
    4) A list of IQ questions (to which I've requested to know the result when called for second interview but was informed by the interviewer that I have passed, otherwise I wouldn't be there (that doesn't seem like a helpful answer, so I didn't take up the job offer)
    5) Knowledge of correct/proper form of address
    Usually, the HR department may forward the standard application form for candidates to complete and bring with them during the interview appointment - we are to attach photocopies of relevant certificates and the original to be produced for verification.
    Additional tests (which I mentioned above) were not informed to me beforehand. The test (list of questions) is usually given when I arrive at the appointed time of interview and was told to let them know once I've completed the test. From experience, I spent 30 mins on the tests and after informing them, spend another 15 mins to go through it again while they get the interviewer(s) ready.
    Well, I guess different countries/companies have different requirements.

    1. The Muser at Musings of a High Level Exec Asst.April 24, 2014 at 8:30 AM

      Dear Anonymous - Thank you so much for your comment! It's great for other reader's to hear other EA's perspectives. I do agree it sounds like different countries/companies have different requirements! This helps other EAs! Thank you for being a reader and I also write over at under Hollywood Executive Assistant.