To gain a clear advantage in today’s fiercely competitive job market, you’ll need an engaging and challenging skill test. Why? Because it’s in your best interest to know early on in the hiring process if the candidates applying for your open position have what it takes to actually do the job.
After the smoke has cleared, and your candidates have sent you the completed pre-employment screening tests, you’ll have the data you need to eliminate the applicants whose results aren’t satisfactory. You can then move on to scheduling interviews and eventually hire the top talent you’ve been looking for.
Looking to learn more about skills testing? You’re in the right place!
What Is a Skill Test?
Also known as a hiring test, the skill test is used by recruiters and hiring managers to perform an unbiased evaluation of a candidate’s ability to carry out the duties required for the job. Skills tests are used across multiple industries to determine which candidates are best suited for the job.
Let’s check out some examples!
The hard skills test
A resume or cover letter gives you a good insight into a candidate’s past and aspirations, but it does not objectively test how well they perform in the workplace. That’s why you’ll need a good hard skills test.
What are hard skills? They are tangible, measurable qualities people need to do their jobs properly. They’re basically the functional pieces of knowledge required to work in a particular field.
If you’re hiring a software developer you might consider testing for cloud security, DevOps, IT automation, or full-stack development.
A customer service representative would need to be tested for communication, patience, decision-making, and customer management.
Looking to hire an accountant? Then test for business knowledge, technology expertise, creativity & problem-solving, and communication.
Let’s go through a few examples of great hard skills tests for job candidates and explain why they work.
Digital Marketing Specialist Hard Skills Test
To evaluate a candidate, this eCommerce platform uses the following test.
- Briefly describe the eCommerce landscape in the United Kingdom.
- Choose one of our products that you are familiar with.
- What do you think is the main target audience for this product?
- How do you approach SEO? What’s your SEO strategy?
- How would you grow your conversion rate?
- Describe your strategy for a Facebook Ads campaign. Create a structure.
- In order to become the most recognized budget eCommerce platform in the United Kingdom, what steps must we undertake? How can we improve?
- Share your plan for your first 3 months in this role.
Why This Works: This skills test encompasses all the hard skills that a digital marketing specialist needs to possess. We like how the test starts with a question that seeks to learn everything the candidate knows about the eCommerce landscape thus gauging their overall knowledge.
Steps 2 and 3 are used to determine if the candidate is passionate about any product on the platform. Through these steps, the hiring manager can also find out if the candidate can correctly estimate the target demographic.
In the next steps, the test takes the candidate more in-depth by analyzing their SEO capabilities, and their affinity for profitable strategies. Finally, the candidate’s long-term planning is tested.
Video Game Level Designer Hard Skills Test
Level designers need to have a very specific set of skills. This is how this hiring manager tests for those skills.
You’re working on an open-world shooter game made with UE4 and you’re responsible for creating one of the locations.
Craft a location layout with the following characteristics:
- Progression feel
- Shortcut opening
- Exterior and interior
- Clear theme
- Close to realistic proportions
- Easily discernable combat spaces
Level Design ingredients:
- MAX 3 enemy types
- MAX 3 special skills
Choose your ingredients from any game you’re very familiar with. List the ones you use for your layout. The ones that are very specific must be described. Make sure that they’re clearly represented in the layout. For the sake of clarity, use colors and text tags directly in the layout. Using less than 3 ingredients is allowed.
Tech / Asset use:
- Use UE4’s first-person blueprint.
- Utilize any assets you think are necessary to communicate your intentions and ideas. Asset quality is not important for this test.
- Combats and ingredients do not require functionality.
- Playable UE4 build
- Presentation, written presentation, or narrated video (your choice); use of mood boards or references is strongly encouraged
Two weeks from receiving this test.
- Layout clarity
- Clear encounter intentions and descriptions
- Justify your design decisions
- Camera collision friendly at all times
Why This Works: This test is a fine example of how to correctly assess a level designer’s skills. It’s all about the passion for games and the right mindset that will allow the perfect candidate to craft an interesting user experience that’s also fun.
To a candidate, the tasks are crystal clear which is a great way to avoid any confusion and allow them to fully unleash their creativity. The test is challenging, yes, but that’s part of the fun. It makes it simple for a hiring manager to determine how passionate and results-focused a candidate is.
Graphic Designer Hard Skills Test
This is a test for a graphic designer job at a photography gear store.
1. Create an introductory landing page that contains the following elements: title, price, product, CTA button, and 3 recommended products. The landing page must adhere to our store’s color scheme. The elements and layout utilized are up to you.
2. Select 2 products from our website and create:
- 2 banners using our format (standard format can be found on the site.)
- 1 flyer in A5 and DL formats
Why This Works: Creative hard skills tests are short and sweet. It’s clear-cut what the candidate needs to do. However, even though the tasks are short, that doesn’t mean that the results won’t help the company decide whether they should hire a person or not.
Graphic Designer Hard Skills Test #2
We’ll add another graphic designer skill assessment test example for comparison. This one’s from a gaming website.
Thank you for your interest in joining our creative team.
Based on your portfolio, you seem to be a good fit for our company. However, we will need one more thing to make our decision. We understand that time is a limited and valuable resource and we wouldn’t want to waste it for either of us. We’ve created a quick challenge to put your creativity to the test.
1. Create a banner for a promotional slider featuring a tournament
- Research and use some online slots characters
- Keep in mind that we’re a gaming website. Your approach should not be formal and boring.
- We’ll need a Desktop version (2880×1000) and a Mobile version (750×600)
- Please use the name of the tournament and the prize pool in your banner.
2. Visit our website and re-create the home page.
- Keep the existing offers and feel free to add a new one for a total of 4. You may change the structure of the page in any way but be consistent with the brand’s color scheme and font.
- We’ll need a Desktop version (2880×1800) and a Mobile version (750×1334) UI/UX.
- You may use any image from our website as well as your own.
Why This Works: It’s great to see a test that starts with a greeting. It makes the candidate feel comfortable and it makes the experience more human. The hiring manager who crafted this test is aware that time is precious and is respectful of the candidate’s efforts to get the job.
We also like the freedom that this hiring manager gives candidates to test their creativity.
Content Marketing Specialist Hard Skills Assessment Test
A hiring manager from a company that specializes in sales automation and cold email software created the following test.
- You have 7 days to complete the challenge
- Send your work in a Google Doc or Google Sheet
Task 1 – Article Challenge
Your objective is to check the blog and propose a new article. No need to write it, just need a proposal of the topic, article structure, and your $0.02 on how it will bring value to our audience.
- Show how you would structure the article (title, headlines, what type of content will be written in each section). Pitch your idea.
- Explain how this article will beat the competition and be the best-in-class.
Task 2 – SEO Challenge
You’ve been given a task to prepare an on-page SEO plan for the article you proposed in the first task. The objective is to have this article rank in the top 3 positions and exponentially generate organic traffic.
- List and map keywords you would attack and explain why you selected them
- Prepare meta title and meta description for the article
- Explain what kind of internal links you would add
- Walk us through all on-page SEO things you’ll do
Task 3 – Content Marketing Challenge
Your objective is to create a Content Marketing strategy for our virtual workplace. It’s up to you to decide what kind of content we need to grab people’s attention and bring them value. Your target audiences are businesses working remotely and companies and individuals who organize events.
- Present your content marketing strategy (don’t write content. Just walk us through what content you would create, what format you’d use, and how you would distribute it.)
Why This Works: In the first task, the candidate’s creativity, knowledge, and originality are tested. It also determines if the candidate is familiar with proper formatting and if they can think outside the box. The second task tests the candidate’s SEO knowledge including keywords, metadata, and internal linking. The third task is where it gets tricky. The first two challenges can be overcome by most candidates who have some experience with content strategy. However, the third is the most effective way of discovering a top content marketing specialist. The reason is that the hiring manager is actually testing the diligence to come up with a good structure and the foresight to predict what a successful future article will look like.
Community & Event Manager Hard Skills Test
Task 1 – Community Challenge:
- Pick a B2B startup of your choice.
- Aim of the startup: Find the ideal venue for your green seminar at no cost. Entrust your venue search to a project manager. Get a selection of venues. Book at the best rate.
- Type of community
- A platform for this community
- Content marketing strategy with 4 pillars
- How to grow the community to 20K members in 4 steps
- Show us how you would manage your community and have 70% of total members being active in it
Task 2 – Webinar Challenge:
Our platform has been organizing webinars with well-known sales and marketing experts. Your objective is to do an audit of the current situation and recommend improvements.
- List 10 guests you would invite next and pick a topic for each of the episodes.
- Walk us through how you’d promote the webinar in the community and reduce the no-show rate
- How would you manage relationships with people who agreed to be our guests after episodes have been published? Walk us through your game plan.
Task 3 – Event Strategy Challenge
We have a huge community. Please join it (you’ll be accepted in 24h max). You’ve been given a 007 mission to come up with the events strategy for our community. Excepting existing webinars, walk us through what kind of other events you would organize.
List the events you would organize explaining each event’s goal and KPIs through which you would measure success. Show us how each of the proposed events would be organized and what kind of tactics you would use as their host.
Why This Works: Building and maintaining a strong community is paramount to any business. The first task tests just that. A good community and event manager must be cost-effective, always. The second task was created to determine if the candidate can improve the webinars that the company has to offer, create a network of sales and marketing experts, and maintain strong relationships with those experts. The third task familiarizes the candidate with the existing community in order to create good event strategies.
How to Create a Skill Test
To craft a great skill test, it’s important to figure out who will write it. Department heads are probably the most qualified for the task since they know exactly what deliverables to ask for. If you’re writing the test yourself, consider the following:
- The tools a potential employee will use on a daily basis
- The tasks they’ll be responsible for
- How they will contribute to your business goals
- How they bring value to the team
This way, you’ll get a sense of the core hard skills your new hire will be required to have.
Creating the right questions
Once you’ve figured out the tools and responsibilities of a potential hire, you can start thinking about the questions you want them to answer. If you’re familiar with the role, it will naturally be simpler for you. If not, ask your team for help. For example, if you’re hiring a copywriter, the content team can help craft specific questions or situations that the future hire might face daily.
The easiest way to start is to choose three tasks and create a question for each. Our advice is to pick something that’s actually doable instead of hypothetical. Give them a literal task to complete. Create a skill test that allows your candidates to truly demonstrate their abilities.
Content Writer Hard Skills Test
You’re looking to hire a content writer and you have to create a test to find the best candidate. What is a content writer’s main goal? To write SEO-optimized articles that drive traffic and conversions. With that knowledge, you can now create your questions.
Maybe you have a furniture store and you’re trying to push a new line of ergonomic sofas. Integrate that situation into the test and create your first task:
I. Write a 2,000-word article about the benefits of ergonomic sofas. Structure your article angle and title according to your SEO research.
This is an actual task, something they’d be doing every day at your company. Based on the article, you’ll be able to tell if the candidate has done their research, if the text is easy to understand and entertaining to read, and, most importantly, if it brings value to the reader and may potentially bring a profit.
II. Attach your SEO research and highlight the primary keyword you optimized the article for.
Your second task would test their SEO knowledge. You’ll want to hire a writer that actually wants their work to be read. Subsequently, they’ll have advanced search engine distribution skills. This is also a way to check if the candidate can integrate keywords into the text without affecting its authenticity.
III. Come up with 3-5 article ideas for our blog.
You need to know that your future content writer sees the big picture. A good candidate will plan ahead and come up with interesting ideas. When analyzing the answer to the third task, check to see if their ideas are original. They don’t have to be ground-breaking. Just different enough that once you hear an idea, you’ll go ‘Hmm, I hadn’t thought of that!’ or ‘I was thinking that exact same thing!’
Keep it short
Attracting the right talent to your company requires that you be respectful of a candidate’s time. If your test is too complex and overly long, you risk losing valuable prospects. Keep in mind that no one wants to spend a ton of time on needlessly complicated tests.
Compensate candidates for their time
Good candidates are hard to come by. If you offer to pay for a test, the candidate will be much more motivated to do a good job. Why? Because you’ve proven to them that you’re respectful of their time.
Think outside the box and be original
Skill tests should be challenging, fun, and original. The candidates that are applying for your open position have most likely taken several tests already. You’ll want yours to stand out.
Remember that as you’re testing your candidates’ abilities, they’re also testing your capacity to provide an interesting and memorable experience. For example, you could ask your graphics team to design some visuals for your test that would complement the text.
It’s possible that an interesting test could advertise your position further thanks to word of mouth or even by a LinkedIn post from a candidate.
In certain cases, the best way to conduct a skill test is by using pre-recorded videos, especially if you’re hiring a YouTube manager, Tik Tok Social Media manager, or content creator for webinars.
It’s a great method to test for soft skills (emotional intelligence, leadership, work ethic, communication skills, etc.) and hard skills. Plus you’ll give your candidate a chance to shake things up and do something different and fun.
That’s where we come in. Skill helps hiring managers and recruiters unleash their full potential and discover top talent. For example, you could gain some in-depth knowledge about finding employees for a small business or start-up. If you’d like to make better hiring decisions and improve the candidate experience, give us a shot!
Create a test for the role
Using the examples we provided, and the advice we’ve given you so far, you’ll be able to start working on your skill test. Check your hiring goals again and write the test based on the skills you need for the open position. Once you’ve completed your test, it’s time to send it to applicants and start the screening process. You might want to include a link to the test in the job description to save time.
Creating your skill test will be your first step toward hiring the best possible candidate for your open position. Coupled with the resume and interview, the skill test will help you make an informed hiring decision. With the resources that we’ve provided at your disposal, you should be able to craft your own test and begin the journey toward finding top talent. Godspeed!