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Types of Written Tests for Job Interviews

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The job application process has become increasingly complex over the last couple of decades as employers make greater efforts to find ideal candidates for open positions. Employers want to find candidates that are not only qualified and hard working but who will fit into the corporate culture and stay put for several years. That is why job candidates today often have to take one or more personality, aptitude, skills or job-specific knowledge tests as part of the application process.

Personality Tests

Employers have been giving prospective employees personality tests since the 1950s. These tests measure characteristics required to be successful at a job or fit in with the company culture. A personality test for a waitress position might try to identify friendly, outgoing people, whereas a personality test for a law enforcement position might try to identify calm, level-headed types. The questions on a personality test are carefully designed, with some red herrings and other techniques to foil those who try to put down what they think the employer wants.

Integrity Tests

Integrity tests try to assess a candidate's honesty, reliability and pro-social tendencies. Most integrity tests typically ask direct questions about ethical decision-making or ask questions regarding choices you'd make in hypothetical situations. Federal and state labor agencies have approved the use of integrity tests as long as employers require all candidates to take them for a specific job category.

Aptitude Tests

Aptitude tests, also called cognitive ability tests, help employers determine if employees have the general knowledge and desire to do a specific job. Employers use aptitude tests to make sure an employee is intellectually suitable for a job. Some employers even give job candidates IQ tests to get a better idea of their intellectual potential. Familiarity with the format and experience in taking aptitude and IQ tests can make a big difference on performance, so consider buying a practice workbook or finding some online practice resources.

Skills or Job Knowledge Tests

Skills tests, or job knowledge tests, try to make sure you have the specific skills required to do the job. Many companies develop their skills tests for various job positions in house, unlike personality, aptitude and integrity tests typically purchased from a third party. Depending on the job, some employment skills tests involve both a written and practical component.


Clayton Browne has been writing professionally since 1994. He has written and edited everything from science fiction to semiconductor patents to dissertations in linguistics, having worked for Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Steck-Vaughn and The Psychological Corp. Browne has a Master of Science in linguistic anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

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