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Tests – the recruitment process support

Human capital is undoubtedly the most precious treasure of every organization. Nothing surprising that for a dozen or so years there has been a noticeable increase in the use of solutions to support the selection of persons with outstanding qualifications, skills and knowledge from a group of candidates applying for a job. One of the tools to aid the organization in finding the ideal candidates on the labour market are tests. Combining them with multistage job interviews, Assessment Centre Sessions, collecting reference about a candidate is a standard element of the conscious, responsible and modern HR policy in many organizations.

The tests used in recruitment-selection processes are divided into two kinds: psychological tests and tests of the knowledge. Below you can find a brief description (illustrated with examples) of both types of tests.


Personality, aptitude, soft skills test, on the basis of which one can predict (very carefully) the future behaviour of an individual, team role to be taken by them, preferred way of communicating, response styles in atypical, e.g. stressful situations. Moreover, with these tools one can examine the level of a person’s agreeableness, extraversion and openness to experience, conscientiousness, emotional stability, ‘energetic’ potential etc.

A person taking the test completes a questionnaire with the given statements, which the respondent is asked to assess (using the score scale). Psychological tools applied for personality diagnosis are recommended by the Psychological Test Laboratory of the Polish Psychological Association (e.g. NEO FFI Personality Inventory, EPQ-R Eysenck Personality Questionnaire) and other than PPA assessment tools such as: SHL tests, Thomas, the Insight or XT Profile Assessment.

For a long time, there has been a dispute over the ethical aspect of applying psychometric tests for recruitment and selection purposes. The opponents of introducing this kind of diagnostic tools in the recruitment processes indicate that deciding whether to employ somebody or not, based on the results of the personality test, is inconsistent with the very ‘philosophy’ of the tests and is discriminating against potential candidates. After all, the test results cannot be classified into good or bad ones. The results describe a human, the way they are, without judging, which type of personality or temperament is ‘better’ or ‘worse’. Whereas, the supporters of applying psychometric tests emphasise that getting to know the personality profile of the future employee is incredibly useful when assessing, how well a person matches a certain team personality type. This is of considerable importance for the effectiveness of the team and atmosphere in the team.

The reasoning of both sides of the dispute seems to be justified, but the problem is difficult to be definitely settled. Yet, there is no doubt that the demand for introducing psychometric tests in the recruitment processes is increasing year by year. A compromise to this situation are the new tools, which let ‘to relate the employee’s personality traits directly to the competency models in organizations, rather than to psychological theories described in an incomprehensible language’[1]. Works on this type of tools are already in progress. Psychological Test Laboratory of the PPA has been working on the tests e.g. leadership or managerial skills assessment test.

It is worthwhile mentioning a dilemma being reported to recruiters, psychologists, career advisors by the candidates receiving an invitation to take psychological tests.

The most frequent question is the one concerning the possibilities and ways to prepare oneself for the tests in advance. Of course, it is not possible. However, it is worth encouraging candidates to answer in accordance with what they really are, rather than in a wishful way (answering the way they would like to be regarded as, or in a biased way according to ‘the profile or position requirements’ a candidate thinks are typical of a given organization). Nevertheless, one should make candidates aware that a lot of tests or questionnaires have so-called scales of lies built in, which let to detect any manipulation attempts and providing untrue answers.

Candidates taking psychological tests do not have to worry about the confidentiality of their results. The psychological tests can be conducted and interpreted only by persons entitled to it (psychologists) who are bound to professional secrecy.

Below, there are a few examples of statements, similar to the ones common in the tests and psychometric questionnaires.


Example 1

(a candidate has to respond to the statement, using five-point scale, according to the instructions, by specifying their level of agreement or disagreement the to statement)


I like the company of other people                            1 2 3 4 5

(own study)

Example 2

(making a self-assessment by providing the answer to a closed question)


Does making new relationships embarrass you and causes anxiety? YES/NOT

(own study)


Example 3[2]

(respond to each statement by ranking it, attributing a score)

Personally, I think that I contribute to the group...

A    I think I can quickly perceive and use the new opportunities ...........................................................................

B     I can get on well with a wide range of people.............................................

C    ‘Producing’ new ideas is my natural ability...................................

D    My strength is the fact I am able find the best in people so that they can contribute to the achievement of the goals and tasks of the group ...........................................................

E     My main ability is that I can bring matters to a conclusion and deal with them effectively ..............................

F     I am able to accept my unpopularity for some time, if that produces valuable results ......................................

G    I usually easily feel what is realistic and probable when it comes to achieving a success ...............................


Intelligence tests, skills tests – assess a candidate’s overall intelligence quotient and their particular skills e.g. analytical or verbal skills. A special variety of this type of tests are the very popular numerical tests, verifying the ability to perform mathematical mental operations mostly based on the induction and deduction.

Below you can find the examples of tasks appearing on this type of tests.

Example 1[3]

(verbal skills assessment task – the verbal analysis)

Scientists live under constant pressure, since they have to follow the laws and already discovered rules closely. While on the other hand, they have to remain vigilant to identify unusual phenomena and assess whether they are a result of errors in observation, whether they are only mistakes, whether they indicate the existence of deeper relations, more complex laws changing the present face of the science.

Evaluate each statement on the basis of the information or opinions in the two texts presented, according to the following principles:

Circle the A if, on the basis of the information included in the fragment of the text, you state that the sentence is definitely true or logically results from the content.

Circle the B if, on the basis of the information included in the fragment of the text, you state that the sentence is definitely false or its fallacy logically results from the content.

Circle the C if the information included in the fragment of the text does not allow choosing between A or B.

  1. Some apparent scientific anomalies can only be mistakes.

a b c

  1. The present face of the science will change soon.

a b c

  1. The tension in the life of scientists will decrease in the distant future.

a b c

Example 2[4]

(numerical skills assessment task)

1. The last week's bill for the overtime was £ 3 450. They pay £ 4.60 for one hour overtime. How many hours overtime were worked?

a. 766 hours

b. 750 hours

c. 133 hours

d. 87 hours

e. 76 hours


Example 3[5]

(analytical and spatial skills assessment task)

1. What would you put instead of a question mark?


Tests of the knowledge – verify the know-how. This type of tests include those assessing e.g. language skills, theoretical technical knowledge and the ability to apply the knowledge gained into practice.

They have been prepared by specialists in the given field and assessed by them as well. These can be single- or multiple-choice tests. The other often applied form of tests are so-called case studies (tasks embedded in the reality typical of a given industry, describing real or imaginary problem situations that happen or may happen in the organization. A candidate’s task is to find a solution, propose the action plan, the repair plan using their knowledge, skills and creativity).

In the recruitment processes, candidates may have to take interest or achievement tests. However, due to the fact that they are applied more rarely and provide much less information about the candidate than the above mentioned psychological tests and tests of the knowledge. Their description will be omitted in the present article.

Undoubtedly, tests are a valuable source of the additional information about the candidate. Moreover, they are much cheaper and timesaving tools supporting a recruiter’s job, in comparison to other tools like e.g. Assessment Centre. However, when deciding to introduce them into the recruitment selection processes, it is worthwhile remembering that a good test (particularly the psychological) should meet the methodological criteria such as: accuracy (‘extent to which the test assesses what it should, according to the principles’[6]), reliability (‘extent to which the test really assesses what it should’[7]), should also be standardized and objective. It would be perfect, if each of the candidates taking the tests was not only informed about the achieved results, but was also provided with a more extensive feedback, except for the data. This practice, even though it is not easy and requires extra time and effort from the recruiter, may minimise the candidate’s fear for taking tests in the future. Perhaps, the tests will have not only an informative function but also educational and will be a base to take action aimed at self-improvement and human development.


Ewa Osowska



Armstrong L., Strategiczne zarządzanie zasobami ludzkimi, Wolters Kluwer Polska, Warszawa 2010.

Dale M., Skuteczna rekrutacja i selekcja pracowników, Polskie Wydawnictwa Profesjonalne, Warszawa 2006.

Lunden B., Rekrutacja pracowników. Porady dla pracodawcy, BL Info Sp. z.o.o, Gdańsk 2008.

Kożusznik, B., Zachowanie człowieka w organizacji, Polskie Wydawnictwo Ekonomiczne, Warszawa 2002.

Malinowska D., Wspólny cel, ‘Personel i Zarządzanie’, czerwiec 2011.

Sprawdź swoje IQ, ‘Gazeta Wyborcza’ z 21 października 2004 r.

Suchar M., Rekrutacja i selekcja personelu, Wydawnictwo C.H. Beck, Warszawa 2005.



www. hrnews.pl






[1] D. Malinowska, Wspólny cel, ‘Personel i Zarządzanie’, czerwiec 2011, p. 84.

[2] B. Kożusznik, Zachowanie człowieka w organizacji, Polskie Wydawnictwo Ekonomiczne, Warszawa: 2002, p. 94.

[3] www.karierawfinansach.pl

[4] Ibidem.

[5] Sprawdź swoje IQ, ‘Gazeta Wyborcza’ z 21 października 2004 r.

[6] M. Suchar, Rekrutacja i selekcja personelu, Wydawnictwo C H Beck, Warszawa 2005, p. 92.