In today's complex business environment, the ability to hire successful employees is critical to an organization's overall success. Northwestern Mutual uses many human resource methods for assessing potential candidates: resume screening, competency-based interviews, reference and background checks, verification of employment and education and pre-employment testing.
Pre-employment tests are an objective part of a selection process. These tests are professionally developed to measure the knowledge, skills and abilities required to successfully perform on the job.
Applicants typically see only the test itself. The test is actually a culmination of a process called "test validation." This "validation" process links job performance and test performance, allowing companies to, in essence, predict success on the job. The process also includes "checks and balances" to comply with government regulations and stringent professional guidelines to ensure fair treatment of all applicants. Selection decisions are based upon clear criteria linked to job performance.
Benefits of testing to the applicant include:
- A fair process that accurately measures the applicants' skills and abilities.
- The use of objective information and criteria related to performance on the target job to promote unbiased decision making.
- Candidates benefit by attaining jobs in which they have a reasonable chance of success.
Benefits of testing to the company include:
- Selecting capable employees who have a good chance of being successful on their new job.
- Less turnover due to people being suited and comfortable in their new roles.
- Cost savings due to the productivity and increased tenure of employees.
The type of test administered to candidates depends on the position, but may include:
- Clerical skills tests
- Job knowledge tests
- Aptitude tests
- Job simulations
On any test, Northwestern Mutual will reasonably accommodate candidates with special needs as necessary and appropriate.
Tests measure the knowledge and ability you have attained in life through formal schooling, extra-curricular activities and other experiences. Research has shown the short-term advice that can be given to applicants is to practice taking tests. The practice test should be taken in an environment that closely matches the quiet, well-lighted rooms of an employment office. Quizzes found in magazines, books and other materials can be found for such practice test exercises. It is important that you time yourself to best learn how to work quickly and efficiently. This will also help you get accustomed to answering the types of questions asked in employment tests.
Checklist for preparing for the day of the test:
- Allow yourself enough time to arrive so you are not rushed prior to the testing.
- You should be well rested so fatigue does not adversely affect your score.
- You may be nervous, but when important events occur in your life it is not unusual to be nervous.
- If you are sick or in poor health, call ahead and ask if it is possible to reschedule testing. Let us know as soon as possible so arrangements can be made.
Although no "best" way of test taking exists for each individual, several strategies can allow the test taker to optimize their own performance.
Work as quickly and accurately as possible. Most of the tests administered in employment situations are timed. Since the number correct influence how well you perform, you should not spend an inordinate amount of time on any item. By spending too much time on any item you essentially limit your ability to reach other items that may be easier for you. Your first act is to note the amount of time available and the number of items included on the test.
Listen carefully to the test administrator and when possible read along as the administrator gives the instructions. This step cannot be overlooked. The instructions will include information on the number of items, the format, the time allotted and even hints about scoring and strategy.
Work out the sample problems completely and make sure you understand the format of the items prior to testing. The test publisher is not attempting to trick the test taker. The sample items may be easier but are essentially similar to the format of actual test items.
If you think you know the right answer, go ahead and answer the question. At minimum, rule out answers you know are incorrect. If you have no idea of the correct answer, then guessing wildly will rarely give you the desired result. Additionally, if the test penalizes guessing, your score can actually be decreased.
Work steadily until time is called. Check your work but be careful changing answers. Research suggests that a changed answer is often incorrect. Try not to get frustrated with really difficult items. Continue on since other items in the test may be easier to you. Also remember, if the items are difficult to you, these same items may also be difficult to others.
Ask questions prior to test administration if you do not understand the question format or test requirements.