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Talent Assessment | 3 min Read

All you need to know about skills tests


In today’s job market, attracting and hiring suitable candidates has become a challenging task. With traditional hiring methods no longer sufficient, organizations are turning towards modern assessment strategies to find the right fit. The integration of online assessment tools in recruitment has become critical for businesses seeking growth and success in the future.

To help hiring managers navigate this complex landscape, we have designed a comprehensive guide on using skills assessments.


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What is a skill assessment test?

Skills assessments are scientific and formal evaluation tools to assess potential applicants. These tests enable employers and hiring managers to gain first-hand insight into someone’s ability to perform a particular task, helping remove subjectivity or bias from the decision-making process. This process allows easy analysis of the candidate’s readiness for the job roles for which they have applied.

Skills assessments are useful and time-saving tools that evaluate candidates early in the assessment process when managing high-volume hiring, enabling recruiters to screen out unqualified applicants from large applicant pools quickly.


Besides being a high-octane, industry-recognized tool, skills assessment tests are beneficial for various purposes, such as:

  • Enabling organizations to objectively assess employees for different roles, helping them identify potential employees that have leadership qualities.
  • Identifying employees’ strengths and areas of improvement.
  • Reskilling employees, allowing them to build their skills and ensure successful future outcomes.

Utilizing skills assessment tests for employment and training purposes

Hiring managers can utilize skills assessment tests to evaluate candidates’ aptitude and abilities and determine whether they are a suitable match for the role. Many organizations also utilize role-specific skills assessments for workforce development and recruitment.

Skills assessment tests for employment are administered as a general evaluation that helps gauge an individual’s personality type and skills, and expertise level, providing a detailed understanding of fitment for the position. These tests are additionally utilized by HR and learning and development teams to identify their workforce’s knowledge gaps and plan the succession.

How does it differ from other evaluation methods?


Employers conduct job skills assessments to make the right hiring decisions. Some of the most common methods of assessing candidates’ or existing employees’ skills are resume reviews, interviews, employment tests, background investigations, etc.

However, there’s no match for high-precision skills assessment tests. These are standardized, scientific and formal means of identifying high-potential employees and suitable candidates. Intrinsically, these assessments ensure authentic scores, rating, grading and overall description. Hence, they are prepared to evaluate the candidates’ skills and abilities comprehensively.

Additionally, skills assessments offer various benefits over other assessment methods. For example, when evaluating through old-school testing methods, it is hard to vouch for candidates’ genuineness. The facts presented in resumes, job interviews, and reference checks can be misrepresented.

Skills tests are effective in predicting performance when compared to traditional interviews or CV screenings. The results derived from skills testing are objective, factually relevant and crucial in selecting a candidate; whereas a CV is not enough to make a hiring decision. Candidates can present misleading information on their CVs but not on a skills test.


Advantages of skills assessment tests

There are several benefits to using skills assessments; explore these below:

  • Competent employees bring significant business revenue through effective processes, strong work ethics, and an innovative approach. Skills tests are often administered as a precursor to determining whether a person fits the job requirements and organization’s values well. These fitments are based on specific parameters: personality, domain skills, leadership competencies, etc. As a result, these well-researched and score-oriented assessments can indicate whether an applicant is at the level desired by the employer.
  • Using skills assessments, hiring managers can screen out applicants not meant for a specific work environment early in the process. These tests can be utilized for entry-level recruitment and also employed when hiring for middle and senior management roles. An individual’s skills and cultural fitment can be easily identified through skills tests.
  • The test results lend credence to the selection process, ensuring that the selection is justifiable. It enables assessors to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the examinee’s ability. These abilities can include skills, EQ, knowledge, leadership, or any other area they wish to assess, including ascertaining the need for upskilling or reskilling, considering what is essential to the role and organization.
  • Potential candidates and current employees can undergo employability skills assessments to let employers know if the training has worked and whether employees are geared up for promotion. Skills-based assessments can speak volumes about the candidates’ eligibility concerning skills, personality, accountability, knowledge, and dedication toward work even before their recruitment.
  • Investing in skills assessment tests for employment helps organizations save time and financial resources when sifting through a vast pool of seemingly competent candidates. Hiring managers won’t need to invest efforts and resources in hiring a person who could turn out to be incompatible for the job after recruiting them based on their CV and a remarkable interview. Therefore, utilizing skills tests before the interview would be beneficial.
  • Subconscious hiring bias and an unfair hiring process can lead to poor acquisition decisions. Therefore, skills assessments play a vital role in the hiring process. Such tests offer an objective evaluation of a person’s abilities and level of proficiency, helping weed out factors that can unknowingly sway a recruiter.
  • Ascertaining someone’s eligibility for a job or promotion merely based on their current skill levels is a parochial outlook because certain crucial aspects are overlooked. A skills test helps managers understand the areas where someone needs to improve, which allows them to design a meaningful and personalized learning and development plan.



Why are skills assessments necessary?

Leveraging skills assessment tests for employment helps employers assess candidates’ professional competencies and gain insights into their abilities. Since these tests measure skills and knowledge, they are sometimes also called pre-employment skills tests or career skills assessments.

Given below are some significant reasons why employers rely on job skills assessments to evaluate candidates:

To know an applicant's actual standing

Many resumes often present misleading information and convey distorted facts. Skills tests can help employers validate the authenticity of an applicant's resume. Conducting pre-employment skills tests can help employers ascertain the credibility of claims made by the candidates.

To find the right job fit

Administering an employee skills assessment is one of the most effective ways to identify whether a person is ideally suited for the job position they are being hired for. Skills assessment tests can uncover relevant information about applicants, whether they are a suitable fit for the job or the organization.

To assess a candidate’s cultural fit

While applicants may have exceptional technical skills, if they miss out on essential communication skills to facilitate effective workplace communication, they might not be on the same page with the team members and may feel disconnected. Skills assessment tests enable recruiters determine candidates' cultural fit competently and effectively.

To address high-volume hiring

Skills tests come in handy when hiring at scale. By using an employability skills assessment as a pre-screening tool, hiring managers can differentiate between ideal and incompatible candidates early on and save substantial time that would otherwise be wasted on interviewing unqualified candidates.

To help differentiate between individuals with similar skill levels

Candidates with similar skill sets require an objective and thorough assessment of their abilities. That is where skills assessments come in handy in providing valuable insights and accentuating the nuances between applicants with similar education and experience levels.

To eliminate biases

Biases can creep into the hiring process in several ways. Using a thoughtfully structured employee skills assessment is one of the most effective ways to weed out biases in recruitment. At the core of a skill assessment is the value that providing evidence-based and substantial information on applicants' knowledge and skills, rather than relying solely on CVs, interviews and gut feeling, which simplifies recruiters' work greatly and offers an objective evaluation of abilities. For example, a person with no exposure to college education might have more knowledge and caliber for a given position than the one with a degree. Therefore, using skills assessments can displace an employer's implicit bias toward the latter, bringing to the fore the competencies and abilities of the candidates even when they do not have a college degree.

To minimize legal risks

Skills assessment tests can also help circumvent legal complications associated with hiring. Job skills tests are formal, objective, and systematic means of assessing talent, so they can help substantiate and defend a firm's claims in the event of a legal proceeding.

To help tackle the skills gap

Leveraging skills assessments in the L&D process is a valuable method to address the skills gap challenge. These tests can offer in-depth insights into employees’ abilities and help upgrade their existing skills and develop new skills.


How to select the right skills assessment test?

Managers in the HR industry often grapple with the most typical question ‘Which skills test should I choose?’ It depends entirely on the business requirements, the job position to fill, and the required skill sets.

Explore how to select a skills assessment according to job role requirements:

Determining objectives: Employers must identify their needs and what they intend to accomplish via these assessments. Do they want to hire new candidates or assess existing employees? Are they seeking people with particular skills?

Deciding what to measure: Employers should focus on which skills they hope to evaluate. Do they want to assess technical or soft skills? A holistic competency framework can provide employers with a viable blueprint for defining the knowledge, characteristics, and skillsets required from prospective employees.

Describing the characteristics of an ideal skill assessment: Employers need to ask the right questions before prioritizing their preferences. For example, what are the aspects of an effective assessment? Is it possible to customize the questions? Are these scientifically validated assessments? Have the assessments been modeled using the competency framework? The preferred characteristics will come in handy while making informed decisions.

Researching options: An employer can consider all aspects and begin sifting through the options available on the market to find the ideal skills assessment test.


Types of skills assessment tools

Skills are the veritable currency for hiring and training, and development. They determine the likelihood of one’s success at work, and skills tests primarily help recruiters gauge the depth and breadth of knowledge and skills required for the job role. There are various types of skills assessment tools, and each can help organizations evaluate candidates’ skills for specific roles when hiring.

Listed below are some common categories of skills assessments used during the recruitment process:

Psychometric tests

Psychometric tests are psychological evaluation tools conducted to objectively assess a candidate’s aptitude, personality traits, abilities, and intelligence levels. These assessments are extensively used in hiring and employee development. Whether for employment or career guidance, a psychometric test can help match an individual’s personality and abilities to a suitable role or career. These tests can help in large-scale recruitment drives, whittling down a huge applicant pool to those selected few who could be a suitable match for a particular role or organization.

Behavioral tests

Behavioral tests are structured frameworks to assess candidates’ behavioral competencies in a simulated work environment. Individuals taking these assessments demonstrate their behavioral skills in tasks that mimic actual workplace settings. Behavioral assessments are a crucial part of the evaluation process that aims to observe, understand, analyze, or predict candidates’ behaviors. It is a type of pre-employment assessment that employers use to assess critical behavioral traits required to excel in a particular role. The test can help recruiters determine whether an individual is a good fit for the organization based on behavioral competencies.

Aptitude tests

Aptitude tests are standardized pre-employment assessments that help employers determine an individual’s fitment for a role. These tools are an excellent way for recruiters to understand how applicants might tackle the challenges of the role for which they have applied, uncovering their strengths and weaknesses. Aptitude assessments are usually conducted online via a dedicated, web-based platform that can help conduct virtual assessments at scale. These scientifically designed assessments lent incredible ease in evaluating every person’s professional aptitude to find performance-driven and goal-oriented candidates.

Coding tests

Coding tests are technical skills assessments that tech recruiters can use to single out suitable coders with the desired skills. These online skills assessments help hiring managers filter out unsuitable candidates early in the tech hiring process, ensuring only the most competent professionals get to the next level. Using these technical skills tests, employers can easily assess the coding prowess of job applicants. For example, Mercer| Mettl offers an innovative digital tool, Mercer | Mettl Hack, which includes many coding skills tests and simulators for both campus and lateral hiring purposes and helps evaluate coding abilities online.

Domain tests

Domain tests, also known as technical tests, are structured assessments administered to candidates (for technical and non-technical profiles) to evaluate their domain knowledge and aptitude required for the given roles. Such a skills test helps determine suitable candidates by placing probables in strict test environments to gauge whether they possess the knowledge and skills required for the position. The test helps determine candidates’ functional abilities, aptitude, and technical skills and how well they can perform various domain skills tests, such as sales and marketing assessments, leadership skills assessments, accounting and finance assessments, etc.

Communication skills tests

Communication skills assessments evaluate the candidates’ communication skills and focus on how well they understand the complexities of the language. These tests are broadly based on four evaluation parameters, including pronunciation, fluency, listening comprehension, and grammar. These tests comprise several assessments and language comprehension assignments to gauge the breadth of the applicant’s knowledge and proficiency in oral and written mediums. The various components of such a skills test help recruiters assess how well the test-takers can understand the language and the promptness with which they can imbibe its essence and respond properly.


Why do companies use skills tests?

Skills assessment tests are handy for employers. These tests provide employers with critical insights into the recruitment process by filtering out undesirable candidates. However, apart from assessing applicants’ competence accurately, they can also differentiate candidates who may be better suited for another role or a promotion.

Listed below are the most common ways that companies use skills assessments:

  • To gain better familiarity with the employees and understand how their long-term values and goals are aligned with the organizational objectives.
  • To pinpoint areas wherein the company leads or lacks, therefore gaining information about specific areas or departments requiring the most emphasis.
  • To provide recruiters with valuable data points that help them make informed decisions about their workforce's recruitment, promotion, and training.

Scientific and technological advancements in assessment tools have expanded their reach, making them more affordable and convenient for employers. These pre-employment tools also ensure remarkable candidate experience, giving candidates remote access to skills assessment tests at their convenience.

Besides being the most suitable assessment method, these skills tests have additional uses as given below:

  • To attract the right talent
  • To assess existing employees for various roles
  • To identify high-potential leaders
  • To benchmark talent performance within an organization
  • To identify a test-taker’s strengths and gaps
  • To help create long-term value for employees

Skills assessment tests provide deep insights into hard skills and several other vital competencies of both job applicants and current employees to accomplish organizational objectives. Skills tests can significantly help employers recruit quality hires and improve existing employees’ performance through well-informed and data-driven decisions.


How Mercer | Mettl can help

Mercer | Mettl has designed an assessment ecosystem, enabling a myriad of clients across industries and business verticals to conduct their assessments virtually with the highest industry standards. With several pioneering features in its armory, this comprehensive online assessment platform accommodates all recruitment needs.

Though there are several benefits of utilizing skills tests, appropriately implementing these assessments can be laborious. Mercer | Mettl’s assessment platform ticks all the boxes in the recruiter’s checklist and provides a host of crucial features, such as seamless integration, convenient user interface, AI-powered online proctoring, assured data safety, diversity of question types, real-time results, customizable analytical reports, secure API support, round-the-clock services, and much more.

The technologically advanced system is inherently attuned to clients’ needs, helping them conduct high-stakes skills assessment tests in a scalable, credible, and cost-effective manner. It enables test administrators to streamline, integrate, and automate the preparation, delivery, and attestation part of the skills tests, making talent assessment a facile affair.

Mercer | Mettl’s extensive library of skills tests and simulators can enable employers to evaluate job candidates and existing employees on various criteria. Its all-encompassing roster of skills assessments provides a host of coding, domain, language, aptitude, and personality evaluation tools, coupled with powerful AI-proctoring technology.


What do employers look for in skills assessment tests?

The art of successfully getting the best people on board is a seamless task with Mercer | Mettl’s assessment library. Mercer | Mettl’s online assessment battery makes it easy to shortlist the best candidates with the utmost ease. The hiring process demands complete transparency, and there’s nothing better than assessing a candidate based on the skills listed on their resume.

A comprehensive platform

If hiring managers have less time to review candidates, they need a platform that is easy to use and provides ready access to exams, candidates, and results. That’s where self-manageable software will be beneficial in tracking an individual’s progress over time.

Ease of administering tests

Test administrators have several options to create an online test and select questions. For instance, Mercer | Mettl’s extensive library of SME-verified assessments is instrumental in designing a set of questions. These tests are readily customizable as per the administrator’s parameters for test configuration, test duration, question order, and scoring logic.

Invite candidates conveniently

Administrators send invitations to the candidates who accept the test invite to begin their assessment. There is complete freedom to set up invitations for specific dates, times, and IP addresses.

Online remote proctoring

Conducting large-scale exams is no longer a hassle – thanks to AI-powered remote proctoring that monitors suspicious activities and prevents candidates’ impersonation. In a secure virtual environment, candidates cannot access external apps and tabs on their browsers. Proctors have complete control over the assessment process, enabling them to gauge candidates’ skill sets accurately.

Infallible testing process

Candidates are verified via their government-issued ID cards and webcams. Simultaneously, proctors carefully check candidates’ surroundings and scan their computers before the tests commence. Once they begin, proctors can easily access candidates’ video feeds and computer screens. They can capture screenshots, end a test session, or reconfirm candidates using image shots. They can also broadcast messages and communicate with one or multiple candidates simultaneously.

Automated report generation

Employers get automatically generated reports after the tests’ completion. These reports feature essential data such as screenshots, live recordings, and chat logs. These reports are also customizable to provide accurate, actionable data. Moreover, recruiters can add additional milestones and progress events to the timeline. They can assign a catchy icon and a date tag for each event that lends enhanced visual appeal to the report.



Skills assessment tests help evaluate a person’s suitability and competency for the job and determine whether they have the drive to succeed and thrive in the organizational setup. These tests are typically used to determine where one lacks in skills and needs improvement, allowing companies to get precise data on the skills that need to be developed to increase productivity. These skills tests have internal validity scales, which can quickly detect any misrepresentation and help determine a candidate’s suitability, weighing how they would fare and measure up to the company’s expectations in the long run.



What is a skills assessment test?

What does skills assessment mean?

Can you list some skills assessment test examples?

How do you prepare for a skills assessment?

What can I expect from a skills assessment test?

What do employers look for in skills assessment tests?

What are professional skills?

What do you mean by unique skills?

Originally published December 4 2019, Updated February 16 2024

Written by

Abhilash works with the Content Marketing team of Mercer|Mettl. He has been contributing his bit to the world of online business for some years now. Abhilash is experienced in content marketing, along with SEO. He’s fond of writing useful posts, helping people, traveling, and savoring delicacies.

Skills Assessment Test

Read on to find out more about skills tests

Skills assessment tests are used in the recruitment process to determine if a candidate possesses the necessary skills (analytical, technical, interpersonal, etc.) to thrive in a job role. Skills assessment tests are an essential component of recruitment today.

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