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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Training for Assessment Exams... at age 5

"I always tell the truth" A possible question on an assessment test when applying for a new job. Your daughter may be required to answer True or False. How does she reply if there is no middle ground? If she says True, then everyone (the people grading her assessment) will think she is lying. If she says False then they wonder if they can trust her.

It is highly likely that our kids will be faced with an assessment test at some point in the job search. In fact, they may have to take one for the college they apply to in addition to the SAT or ACT tests which are more focused on reading and writing than personality and motivation.

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic*, a CEO and Professor, recently wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review about improving your score on an assessment test when applying for a job. He wrote about the various traits that employers try to measure with these tests:

  • Competence: Expertise, Experience, Trainability
  • Work Ethic: Reliability, Ambition, Integrity
  • Emotional Intelligence: Self-Management, Social Skills, Political Skills

Great! So we know what they want. Wrong. It is difficult to game an assessment test unless you know what the company is specifically looking for. Some companies may score the same question differently depending on their analysis of what it takes to succeed in their firm and/or industry. And, even if you know what the company wants, does it make sense for our kids to lie about themselves to get a job that may not be right for them?

Rather than trying to cheat by climbing the walls and throwing answers to our kids when they are taking the assessment tests...
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...we can focus on giving them the tools and experiences they need now.

The three areas Tomas refers to, Competence, Work Ethic, and Emotional Intelligence align nicely with what recruiters believe are the only three interview questions employers care about: Can you do the job? Do you want the job? Can we get along with you?

At high school and college ages Tomas suggests the GRE Practice Book as a good way to prepare for verbal, numerical, and logical reasoning types of questions. This takes care of the general competence concerns. For more job specific skills it would depend on the role. For young kids there seems to be a growing use of standardized tests in the schools. I know for my own kids that they have been taking the MAP tests since elementary. While they are not learning from these tests it is probably good test taking practice.

Work Ethic is a bit more subjective. How would you want your child to answer this question:

I get the job done even if I have to break some rules. - True/False
What kind of person do you want your son to be? How do you define ambition. Follow your own principles and pass them on to your kids. Remember though, saying one thing and acting out another won't work. Our kids will follow our example for better or for worse.

How do we teach out kids to get along with other people? To manage themselves when in a group (or a team)? Emotional Intelligence is a hands on, experientially learned skill. Take your kids out in public, show them off, introduce them to your friends, let them talk with other people. There are bound to be embarrassing moments but each one of them will be a chance to teach our kids the right way to act.

In the end, the best advice is the same for any test. Get a good night's sleep, eat something (but not too heavy), go to the bathroom beforehand, take a deep breath, relax, and do your best.

*Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic is the CEO of Hogan Assessment Systems, a Professor of Business Psychology at University College London, and a faculty member at Columbia University. 

2 comments:

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