What Should You Include in Your Staffing Agency Skills Test?

By Adam Day

September 28, 2021

Every year in the U.S., millions of temporary employees are hired through staffing agencies to fill important roles. Often working full-time, these vital employees usually fill in for permanent employees that are either ill, on leave, or to help companies deal with a surge in workload. For the companies that hire them, these temporary employees must be ready and able to do the jobs assigned to them. In most cases, they simply don’t have the time or resources to train these workers and must trust that the staffing agency has been careful in their selections.

For staffing agencies, ensuring that they can do this will be vital to the long-term success of their business. In terms of importance, it’s right up there with choosing the right pricing model. Through the use of job agency skill tests, your business can have a better chance of verifying if a potential candidate has the skills and knowledge they’ll need to do their job effectively.

Below, we’ve gathered a shortlist of suggestions on what to include in your staffing agency’s assessment test. We’ve also included a short guide on how you can create your own skills test template.

1. Cognitive Ability Test

This is one of the most popular tests and can be a great predictor of how fit a candidate is for a particular job. It typically works by having the candidate answer a series of questions related to verbal, numerical, and abstract reasoning to determine their critical thinking and reasoning abilities. A great deal of research consistently backs up that these skills can be useful for a broad range of jobs, making a great starting point for any agency assessment.

For instance, if you’re hiring call center staff for a client, then you’ll want to be sure the candidate has effective communication and logical reasoning skills to aid them in solving problems.

2. Situational Judgment Testing

Getting more specific to a role, situational judgment tests (SJT) are about finding out if a candidate has the right know-how to deal with a common problem they may encounter. These tests can be either interactive, video-based, or text-based. It’s important to note that these tests are role-specific and are made to determine how a candidate might respond to a particular situation. Candidates are given a problem to solve and there might not necessarily be a right or wrong answer. Instead, it’s about determining what candidates have the most desirable traits. It’s not based on reasoning ability but more on tacit knowledge and instinct.

3. Personality Questionnaire

In certain roles, it may not be enough for a candidate to have a lot of practical know-how and experience. They may also require the necessary soft skills and personality traits to do the job well. A personality test can be a great way to determine what character strengths and weaknesses a person has before putting them in a job. For example, a customer service role will require strong communication skills as well as interpersonal skills. If a candidate has the know-how but isn’t good when dealing with customers, then it might not be best to put them in a forward-facing role.

When deciding on what personality questionnaire to include in your skill test, make sure it’s scientifically validated and allows you to set scores per role.

4. Language Proficiency Assessment

When hiring for roles that require proficiency in a certain language, you’re going to want to test them on this. You can do this with a language proficiency test, which tests them on their grammar, vocabulary, and reading comprehension abilities. To take things further, you can also use advanced voice recognition software to test candidates on their pronunciation and fluency. This way, you can be sure you’re only selecting those applicants who have the required language skills.

5. Multitasking Test

Many roles today require a lot of multitasking, so you’ll want to test candidates on their short-term memory and how good they are at switching between tasks. Effective multitasking is all about being able to manage several tasks at once while also recognizing which tasks require prioritization. For example, a call center employee needs to listen to the customer, search for information to answer their questions, and keep the dialogue open all at the same time. It sounds easy until you actually try it. 

By determining how good a candidate is at multitasking you can get a better feel for what role they are best suited for.

6. Job Knowledge Test

Skills and experience are one thing, but how much does the candidate actually know about the job? Determining this will be the final piece of the puzzle in deciding whether a candidate is the right fit for a role. What goes into a job knowledge test will, of course, depend on the job. Being a staffing agency, you’ll have multiple roles across many different industries that need to be filled. To make things easier, it might be helpful to categorize those jobs that share similar traits and create a short job knowledge test for each one of them.

This way, you can identify those candidates who have at least a basic understanding of the role.

Creating a Skills Test Template

Depending on your business goals and budget, you may decide to either outsource the creation of a skills test template to a third party or create one in-house. While going the DIY route with this can be challenging and time-consuming, it may serve you better in the long run. Below are a few guiding principles on how to create an efficient skills test template for your staffing agency.

1. Identify What Skill Tests to Include

The above-mentioned skill tests are only the most common. Depending on what niche of the job market your agency is focusing on, you may want to include more specific tests. For instance, clerical and administrative jobs will put a stronger focus on reading comprehension and typing speed, and accuracy. Identify all the skill tests necessary for each of the roles that your agency hires for.

2. Ensure Mobile-Friendliness and Tech Integration

Most people scanning for jobs will be using their mobile phones. Ensure that each test is combined into an easy-to-use, mobile-friendly format. There should also be efficient tech integration to allow for easier data collection and test score reviews. This will be the costliest part of the process but when done right can immediately set you apart from the competition.

3. Gather Feedback

A good skills test template should be regularly reviewed and modified to make it more efficient. Gather feedback from candidates to improve usability. Ask clients for their own feedback on the effectiveness of the candidates that you’re sending to them. Using this data, you can make continuous improvements to your selection process.

Final Thoughts

Skill tests are a useful way to sift through candidates in search of those who are the best fit. But they are not the end-all-be-all of every hiring process. Scoring high in every test does not mean a candidate should be immediately hired. Instead, it means that a candidate should move to the next phase in the hiring process i.e., a one-on-one interview or test placement. Still, an effective skills test template can dramatically improve your hiring process and the quality of the candidates you select.



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