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Talent Assessment | 3 min Read

All You Need to Know About Skills Assessment Test

An employee requires diverse skills to achieve positive results in any job role as proficiency in technical and soft skills accentuates an individual’s performance. That’s why skills tests are used in the hiring process to assess potential and productivity. The HR and L&D teams can utilize these tools to address talent gaps in the organization, conduct training sessions and perform succession planning.

Given below are some of the most sought-after skills required by employers during the recruitment:

  • Analytical skills
  • Technical skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Teamwork
  • Positive attitude

What Is a Skill Assessment Test?

During hiring or recruitment, most employers require candidates to take skills assessment tests to evaluate an individual’s aptitude or skills and determine whether they are a good match for the role. They make the formal job offer after the interviews, and skills assessment helps them make an informed decision. 

These tests may be in the form of a general evaluation that helps gauge and evaluate an individual’s personality type and skills, and expertise level, which provides a detailed understanding of whether the candidate fits the position or would thrive in the company culture.

The entire recruitment and selection process can be stressful, but you can turn skills assessment tests into an opportunity to stand out from the competition. This method can prove to be your perfect ally when approached with the right mindset.

Business organizations employ customized skill assessments for recruiting and workforce development. The skills test can help the hiring managers recruit and retain the best talent during a campus or lateral hiring. Conducting skills assessment online can considerably reduce recruitment costs and help make the right hiring decisions. Learning and training and development teams can also utilize skills tests to identify their workforce’s knowledge gaps.

How It Differs from Other Assessment 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:


There’s no match for high-precision skill assessment tests. These are standardized, scientific and formal means of identifying high-potential employees and deserving candidates. Intrinsically, skill assessment tests must ensure the authenticity in scores, rating, grading and overall description. Hence, these tests are prepared to evaluate the assessee’s skills and abilities comprehensively.

A skills assessment test offers additional benefits over other assessment methods. For example, when evaluating through oldfangled skill test methods, you cannot vouch for the candidate’s genuineness because the facts presented in their resumes, job interviews, and reference checks can be misrepresented.

Such misleading results create a quandary for recruiters because chances are the candidates and existing employers might portray themselves in the best light to grab the opportunity.

However, when done right, structured interviews can serve the purpose well. Seasoned interviewers have the knack for finding if the interviewee is deceiving (mostly by observing their body language). Besides, job simulations are also useful in predicting job performance.

Despite the usability and importance of the two methods mentioned above, skill assessment tests are qualitatively more efficient and cost-effective than these standard methods.

Types of Skills Assessment Tests

Even though skills tests are used for various reasons, they are precisely undertaken before employment. Listed below are some common categories of skills assessment used during the recruitment process:

  • Hard skills assessment

These assessments gauge a person’s expertise in a specific area, such as programming, math or typing. These skills refer to the abilities and talents that can be assessed. The results of hard skills assessment provide an accurate narrative of a candidate’s knowledge and skills. 

  • Personality tests

Personality assessments can help recruiters deep-dive into candidates’ personality aspects, which could prove useful when considering someone for a position that requires a specific demeanor. For example, a highly extroverted candidate would be ideal for a customer-facing role, such as a sales-based role.

  • Work sample test

Work sample tests, sometimes also known as “realistic job previews,” include situational judgment tests, technical coding tests and case study presentations, among others. These assessments could indicate the test-taker’s actual job performance because the test is designed to mimic the real responsibilities related to the job role.

  • Cognitive ability test

Much like work sample tests that assess how applicants would execute tasks in everyday situations, cognitive assessment tests measure how candidates function in unexpected settings.  These tests evaluate a candidate’s ability to use abstract thinking when applying numerical and verbal reasoning skills. Employers, nowadays, also use game-based assessments to gauge cognitive ability. 

  • Interview

After deliberating extensively, recruiters can use interviews to assess candidates based on their hard and soft skills. Interviews are often conducted independently or in conjunction with other types of skill assessments. There are two categories of interviews: structured and unstructured interviews.

Structured interviews include standardized questions for all applicants. This type of interview is based on objectivity, which helps eliminate biases and produce reliable data useful in making merit-based hiring decisions. Structured interviews are often based on a behavioral interviewing approach, which necessitates that an applicant’s past behavior be acknowledged to predict future performance and attitudes.

Unstructured: Unlike structured interviews, this type of interview aims to build a rapport/relationship between the interviewer and their candidates. Also, sometimes known as a non-directive interview, this interview type is generally recorded so the interviewees’ responses can be evaluated later, enabling the interviewer to focus on the meeting entirely.

  • Blended approach

Many businesses choose to integrate several types of assessments rather than focusing on one. This approach can provide more extensive results that will enhance the relevance of this practice. However, this is a time-consuming approach.

Why Skill Assessment Tests Are Necessary

In the last few years, there has been a steady rise in those who use skill tests to attract and retain talent. While many leading companies rely heavily on pre-employment assessments, there is an enormous untapped potential yet explored in its adoption

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

Besides being the most suitable assessment method, these skill 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 assessee’s strengths and gaps
  • To help create long-term value for employees

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

How to Select the Right Skill Assessment Test?

In the HR industry, managers often grapple with the most common question: “Which skill test should I choose?’’ It depends entirely on the business requirements, the specific job position you must fill, and the required skill sets. For example, are you thinking of hiring a candidate with strong communication, problem-solving, programming or leadership skills? Your selection of skills assessment tests depends on the relevant skills you are seeking in your new employee. However, one must consider several factors before choosing an assessment, as mentioned below:

  • Determining objectives: Employers must first 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?
  • Describing characteristics of an ideal skill assessment: Employers need to ask the right questions before prioritizing their preferences. For example, what are the characteristics of a good assessment? Is it possible to customize the questions? Are these scientifically validated assessments? Their preferred characteristics will help them make informed decisions.
  • Researching options: Considering all aspects, the employer can start sifting through the options available on the market to find their ideal skills assessment test.

Why so many companies use skills tests

Skills assessment tests are incredibly useful for employers. These tests provide employers with critical insights into the recruitment process by filtering out undesirable candidates. However, apart from accurately assessing applicants’ competence, they can also differentiate candidates that 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 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

What Do Employers Look for in Skills Assessment Tests?

The art of successfully getting the best people on board is not as challenging as presumed by most recruiters. Finding the best hire is a strategic process that requires clarity from every employer. The ever-increasing talent pool and the advent of pre-employment tests have simplified selection. So, your primary goal in hiring new people shouldn’t merely be about increasing the headcount but recruiting and retaining the best quality employees. 

Mercer  | Mettl’s online assessment battery makes it reasonably easy to cut through the clutter and 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 resumes.

A Comprehensive Platform

If you have less time to review candidates, you’ll want 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 a Test

Test administrators have several options to create an online test and select questions. For instance, Mettl’s extensive library of SME verified assessments is immensely useful 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, etc.

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

It’s not easy to get away with cheating on the skills assessment. Conducting large-scale exams is no more 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 on the assessment process, enabling them to gauge your candidates’ skillsets accurately.

Infallible Testing Process

There are no margins for errors at this stage of the self-assessment test. Candidates need to be verified via their Government ID cards and webcam. Simultaneously, proctors carefully check candidate surroundings and scan the test-takers’ computers before the test commences. Once it begins, proctors can easily access candidates’ video feeds and computer screens. They can capture screenshots, end a test session, or reconfirm candidates using image captures. Proctors can broadcast messages and communicate with one or multiple candidates simultaneously.

Automated Report Generation

Employers get automatically generated reports after the test is completed. These reports feature essential data such as screen captures, live recordings, and chat logs, etc. These reports are also customizable to provide accurate, actionable data. Moreover, you can add additional milestones and progress events to the timeline. You can assign a catchy icon and a date tag for each event that lends enhanced visual appeal to your report.

How Mercer | Mettl Can Help

Mercer | Mettl is a technology company that provides skill assessment tools, proctoring, and online assessment software. Our skills assessment tests enable companies and professionals to make well-informed decisions on recruitment, training and promotion. Mettl’s extensive library of skills tests and simulators can help you create well-customized assessments to evaluate the shortlisted candidates’ underlying abilities and existing skills. Explore a wide range of psychometric, cognitive, role-centric, and technical assessments to onboard the right people. An extensive library of online skill assessment tests allows employers to evaluate job candidates and existing employees on various criteria. It provides various assessments available across core corporate functions, industry-specific roles, and generic tests such as behavioral and cognitive, among others.


Many companies cultivate a healthy competitive culture that fosters positive reinforcement and motivation to excel for the broader organizational benefit. These 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. This does measure your job suitability, weighing how you would fare and measure up to the company’s expectations in the long run.

This evaluation aims to assess how your skills and personality would fit the role, and if you will be productive and happy with the job for the long-term. Skills assessment tests need readiness mentally, physically, and psychologically – you must be well prepared to undertake the skills assessment tests at the appropriate time to ace the assessment.


We have listed the answers to the most commonly asked questions about skills assessment tests:

What are the professional skills?

Professional skills are occupational competencies that are not acquired or taught as part of the academic study required to earn a Ph.D. or master’s degree. Professional skills such as project management, leadership, mentoring and dispute resolution add value to any career.

What do you mean by unique skills?

Given below are some unique skills that an employer looks for in candidates:

  • Communication skills
  • Technical competency
  • Honesty
  • Flexibility
  • Work ethics
  • Resolute determination and persistence
  • Willingness to be a team player
  • Eagerness to learn
  • Loyalty

What are the skills and abilities?

Skills and abilities enable you to perform exceptionally well in certain tasks. These are natural talents and strengths that distinguish one student/employee from another. A person’s natural abilities and knowledge and skills acquired through training and experience come under skills and abilities. Skills can be categorized into three classes:

  • knowledge-based skills
  • functional/transferable skills
  • attitudes/ personal traits

How do you prepare for a skills assessment test?

From a candidate’s perspective, skills assessment tests can be challenging if they haven’t prepared well in advance. Candidate experience matters because interviews conjure up anxiety-inducing moments, which brings us to the question: How job applicants can prepare for skills assessment tests?

Have you been invited for an interview and asked to take an assessment test? There’s no need to be intimidated! Whether you are taking psychometric, coding, or aptitude tests, there are various ways to go about it. So how should you prepare beforehand?

Be mentally prepared for the skills test

Skills Assessment tests should not intimidate or scare you. You can prepare for this battery of trials to achieve a positive mindset before and during the evaluation. You may ask or inquire about the types of assessment tests that would be done and the approximate duration of the testing procedure. This should give you an advantage or some idea of what to expect. You can also practice personality tests online, such as the Myers-Briggs Personality Test. This would help you prepare and gain an understanding of your personal and professional abilities. 

If you are tested in a particular skill, you must review the concepts and practice quizzes that can be taken online. If you can, inquire about how much the skills assessment test results would affect the hiring process or decision. Be careful, though, not to appear nervous or incompetent when asking about these details. Project confidence and show that you are committed to becoming a part of the company. This step will help boost your chances of being considered for the role.

Give Your Best Shot

When taking the skills assessment test or any tests for employment or promotion, please ensure that you provide accurate, honest, and consistent answers. Personality tests may have no right or wrong answers because there are none. Still, consistencies can be detected in your responses if you try to game the system. You would often observe some questions repeated yet plotted in different contexts to reveal if the answers are sincere and unwavering. The most common mistake noticed in skills assessment tests is when people fail to follow the instructions correctly.

You must ensure to read the questions and instructions and clarify when necessary. Do not make guesses with these assessment tests – take your time to comprehend problems before responding accurately. 

Wait for the results with the utmost confidence

After you complete the test, take some time to interact with the recruitment manager to express your commitment toward the role. You can also ask them for feedback on the results. Express gratitude regardless of the negative or positive criticism given to you.

Assess Candidates Before Interview With Pre-Employment Tests

Filter out least-suitable applicants for a smaller, better-qualified pool

Originally published December 4 2019, Updated December 10 2020


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