Human Interviews or Written Tests; which one to Choose!


Choosing between the human interviews or written tests has long been a subject of debate amongst the HR Professionals. In my opinion, both are interrelated and interdependent. It is quite difficult to give preference to one system while putting other on the back because I myself have found both the options suitable in judging men and women of abilities depending on the situation. This piece is an endeavor to give readers an insight on both the methods and readers will decide which one they want to opt.

It depends largely upon the Nature of the Job -
The decision of whether to take tests or conduct interviews depends solely upon the nature of the job. In case a company tends to hire a grocery clerk, the test may be a feasible option as it is most relevant to the requirements of the job. On the other hand, for some strategic level job i.e. hiring some International Relation officer, companies conduct interviews, as tests are not the right option to test the skill level of such candidates.

Something about Written Tests:-
Let’s talk about the types written tests. In the language of human resource, tests are of various types, like:-

Knowledge or Job-Related Tests: In these tests, candidates are judged on the knowledge, data and skills of the required jobs against which they apply. For instant: a library assistant test may involve question strictly from the job description of keeping book database, assigning codes to various books and keeping record of books etc. similarly for Marketing personnel, test may include question like devising marketing techniques for entrepreneurs, making business plans and defining target audience etc.

Personality or Attitude test: Today many MNCs are shifting their focus towards personality tests. Such tests are comparative in nature and differentiate candidates on the basis of honesty, integrity, responsibility and other traits of a similar nation. It is also pertinent to mention that these traits are qualitative and can’t be quantified, but companies give MCQs type paper in which candidates are given certain situation and they are required to give the most appropriate answer to that question.

Medical Tests: These tests are conducted to give an insight into the physical as well as the mental health of candidates. If any candidate has a physical disability, the company deals with them according to their policies and procedures.

Now let’s shift our focus towards various interviews:-

Structured interviews: As the name indicates, these are pre-defined or written questions which are set for all types of candidates coming for an interview. It is a rigid way and gives calculated results.

Unstructured Interviews: Here the interviewer has a liberty to ask whatever comes in his mind (of course related to the job). There are no such defined questions and as interview proceeds, the interviewer keeps asking and tests knowledge of the interviewee.

Making a Contrast: It is true that there are both pros and cons in conducting either one of these. Tests may be less time consuming and requires less manpower to conduct. As discussed earlier, a supervisor with one person staff will find it easy to conduct tests of 50 people at one time under one roof; rather calling 50 people time by time for interviews.
HR personnel use both the methods in their practice, without preferring one form over the other. However interviewer may need to be clear in their mind when conducting interviews. It has been seen that personal biased attitude leads to halo effect (based on some restricted information, interviewer associate certain characteristics to candidate); similarly stereotype (associating some jobs to some set of individuals) can hamper the entire recruitment procedures.

There are also jobs in which prior test are conducted and then based on the results, some candidates are called for the interviews.

It is a long debate as which procedure to be adopted. In HR terminology, both interviews and tests are interlinked to one another and both are powerful recruitment tools, selection of which depends upon the nature of the job.

Amit Mishra

I am Founder and CEO of Interview Mocha. A Startup disrupting Skill Testing Industry. I never stop Creating and Imagining. Passionate about everything I do. LinkedIn

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