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What Job Interview Tests Reveal About Job Candidates

Nervous Woman
Credit: Dreamstime

The way a job candidate reacts to having to take a test during the interview process could be an indicator of how well he or she will perform after being hired, new research suggests.

A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology shows that candidates' reactions to being given a standardized test during the selection process can impact their performance on the test and on the job. However, their reactions to the test reliably predict how well the candidates will fit in at the company. 

Julie McCarthy, one of the study's co-authors and an associate professor in the University of Toronto, Scarborough's department of management, said tests remain reliable predictors of job performance regardless of how candidates respond to this step in the selection process. However, their reactions to having to take a test also correlates with their scores on the exams, McCarthy said.

"Candidates who experience high levels of anxiety, for instance, will have low test performance, while those who are motivated by tests will perform better, both on the test and on the job," McCarthy said.

Researchers say the findings support the idea that standardized tests can reliably predict job performance and that while the tests themselves can be a useful tool, the testing process is also essential to the job candidates, since it gives them a chance to develop an impression about the organization's culture and values.

"The findings are an important consideration, both for organizations and for applicants," McCarthy said. "There is clearly value in training programs to help applicants minimize test anxiety and stay motivated."

The study was co-authored by Chad Van Iddekinge, of Florida State University; Filip Lievens, of Ghent University in Belgium; Mei-Chuan Kung, of employee-assessment firm Select International in Pittsburgh; Evan Sinar, of talent-management firm Development Dimensions International in Pennsylvania; and Michael Campion, of Purdue University in Indiana.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.

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