Making the most of an assessment test

In a tough job market, companies have the ability to rigorously assess talent to ensure that the best possible employees are placed in the correct management roles, and some firms are opting for assessment practices that go beyond a basic interview. According to The Wall Street Journal, an interview can give hiring managers and executive search firms a solid idea of a candidate’s leadership style and experience, but simulation-based executive assessments show a job-seeker’s thought process and problem-solving skills. If you’ve been asked to take an assessment as part of the vetting process, there are some things you should know beforehand.

Study and prepare

While there’s no way to guarantee what will happen during your assessment, you can still prepare yourself in advance. Study the organization assessing you as you would in anticipation of a standard job interview, and consider how you will introduce yourself to the interviewers. According to, you can generally ask the firm what set of competencies it will be using to evaluate candidates. Use these skill sets to develop examples of when you’ve used these abilities in the past.

Stay calm

The Wall Street Journal noted that even chief executives may feel intimidated or overwhelmed by the prospect of an assessment, but it’s important for candidates to remain calm and collected. According to the source, there are no right or wrong answers during these types of tests, as firms use business case studies and advanced methods to determine how your answers stacked up. The best thing you can do is answer candidly and honestly.

Be open to feedback

Following the assessment, administrators will often walk candidates through the results and ask more questions to form an even clearer picture of each participant’s leadership style and problem-solving abilities. Questions may touch upon the different management practices you’ve used in the past, as well as when those strategies have been effective and when they got in your way. This is a chance for candidates to demonstrate a high degree of self-awareness and thoughtfulness.

Consider the results

Your assessment scores may be perfectly in line with what you and your test administrator expected, allowing you to move forward in the interview process. However, sometimes the findings will look different from what was anticipated. This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but the hiring manager may schedule another interview to address any areas of concern. In either case, the administrator may recommend specific training or coaching to fill any gaps in your skill set.

Show assessors that you’re capable stated that while it’s important to complete the tasks and answer questions presented by the interviewers, it’s also necessary to show them that you’re being thoughtful and professional. The source compared it to a driving test – it isn’t enough to just look in the mirror before making a turn, drivers need to physically move their heads to show the test administrator that they’ve checked the mirror. In the same way, candidates who are being considered for a position must show assessors that they are listening using body language and careful feedback.

About Caldwell Partners

Caldwell Partners is a leading international provider of executive search and has been for more than 40 years. As one of the world’s most trusted advisors in executive search, the firm has a sterling reputation built on successful searches for boards, chief and senior executives, and selected functional experts. With offices and partners across North America and in London, the firm takes pride in delivering an unmatched level of service and expertise to its clients.

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