If you’ve applied to a job in the past few years, you may have noticed the requirements have become – let’s say – a little stricter. Along with the educational requirements, years of experience, solid work history and background check – many places are requiring an assessment test. You’ve seen them, the ones that seemingly asks the same question 50 different ways.
They make it convenient as most are taken online. I’ve taken my fair share of these tests and answered honestly. I didn’t realize what was being assessed until a potential employer told informed me, of how it worked.
Just a little background, I applied to this job as an IT recruiter. I met all the listed requirements, education, work history – background etc. I went online and took the assessment test as required. The test was about 80 questions – and like I said it seemed like it was asking me the same questions repeatedly.
A few days later a received a call from the company and we scheduled an interview. It was a small firm, and the guy who called was the owner. I went in for the interview. The interview went well, he told me his story about being in the corporate world, and how he hated it. So, he decided to start his own small business.
There were five other people who were working in the office as we spoke. None of the five seemed to pay attention to what we were saying, they were all diligently working at their small desks. I chatted with the owner for a while (trying to build rapport) based on our conversations, we were a lot alike in our approaches and thought processes – which is why I believed he revealed to me the truth.
I was asked to take another online test, after our brief conversation. This test was an “intelligence test” (at least that’s what he said). The test took about 30 minutes to complete. This test was basically like the online test that I had taken prior to the interview. When I finished, the owner received the results immediately.
It took him a few minutes to process the results (that’s my assumption) I watched as the other five employees typed on their computers and answered incoming calls. Finally, after about seven or eight minutes, we sat down again.
The owner had a stack of papers that he dropped down on the table in front of us.
The top paper had my name on it. He told me, flat-out in a moment of candor, “based on the results of your assessments, you’re too smart for this job.”
I didn’t know what that meant. He went on to explain, the assessments are designed to weed people out. He said companies are looking for a specific type of person. Someone who “isn’t too dumb, but also, someone who isn’t too smart”.
He said people who are “too dumb”, struggle with the basic concepts of the job. They make more mistakes, and in the long run won’t make a good employee. The people who are “too smart”, learn the job relatively quickly, get bored – and move on to a more challenging job. In the long run, they don’t make good employees.
I was told, the best employees, are the ones that aren’t “too dumb, but aren’t too smart” – and most importantly will happily stay in that place for years. The often asked question, “where do you see yourself in five years” is asked to weed out the overly ambitious.
This was news to me, and I thank the small business owner who told me this, I wouldn’t have known this without his candor. After all he told me, he still offered me the job – but I didn’t take it. He was looking for a long-term employee – and the truth was, that wasn’t going to be me.
He gave me the computerized results with my name on it. He said he doesn’t normally do that – but for whatever reason – he gave it to me. Over time, I read the nearly 40 pages of information formulated from my assessments. It had notations on where and how I most likely would fit in, positive attributes, negative attributes, etc. Things that you wouldn’t expect an assessment test to know. I must admit – most of it was right on the money.
There were two warnings that the computerized assessment gave about me to any potential employer. It said, beware of the employee in an office setting, I could get other people to think like I do, and the other; I wouldn’t be ideal for a sales job – the reasoning – I would be prone to tell potential customers too much of the truth.