Why Make Data Experts Complete Tests To Get A Job?

Testing for testing’s sake?

If you ask any recruiter or HR professional working with the Data, AI or Cloud space, they will tell you that sending tests to prospective employees is absolutely the correct way of sifting through the candidates to find the best possible interviewees.

If you ask Data, AI or Cloud professionals, however, most will tell you that these tests are at best an irritant and at worst completely irrelevant.

So who is right?

Whilst it is understandable that those who are in a position to choose who goes through to the next round would want to cover all bases and the most efficient way they see is to send out the test. Sometimes this is a little disingenuous and it ultimately feels, to candidates at least, that it is just an attempt by the hiring manager to save themselves resources.

Many seasoned Data Scientists, et al. take issue with the first stage of the process being the receipt of a test, before they have even spoken to a human being. They complete a form to apply for the job and then they receive a test via email. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that being asked to take more time out of your busy day to complete the test after having taken the time out of their busy day to complete the job application feels like an imposition.

As we have pointed out previously, Data, AI and Cloud personnel are in huge demand. There are not enough qualified individuals to fill those roles. On one side, that makes the tests make sense but on the other side, why antagonise your prospects by demanding a 3+ hour test from them?

Yes, there are newbies who apply for senior roles but a cursory reading of a CV will tell you about their level so this shouldn’t really be an issue.

Treating the skilled ones as if they should be thankful for the opportunity to complete the test really is not the best idea. If the first impression a candidate has of the company is the feeling that it is trying to cut corners and not put full effort into finding the best new hire, then why should they bother with such a company?

It feels like it is this that is the real issue, not the having to complete a test itself.

Those opposed to the tests fall into two camps:

  1. The test is a way to sift through multiple candidates quickly and with a minimum of work, which has the effect of inferring that there is either a glut of candidates vying for the same role or the company has dedicated minimal resources in the search for the candidate.
  2. The Data, AI & Cloud professionals deem the tests pointless as they are either too easy or the test itself is not relevant to the type of work they will be doing. Indeed, this is an interesting point as there is still, within the industry, a misunderstanding of the roles being advertised by the organisations.

Indeed, when these candidates are given tests that do not challenge them, they often either recreate the test, complete the test with hidden messages within the code critiquing the test itself and suggesting ways to improve it. Suffice it to say, they rarely get the job, which smacks of unprofessionalism on the part of the company sending the test. If the candidate is being asked to complete a test and they are literally telling you how to improve the test, is that not a sign of expertise that you would want within your business? Instead, an organisation is likely to view that coder as unprofessional and go for the candidate who completed the test and possibly didn’t see the flaws in it. Are you looking for the best?

If you absolutely must send out a test, it should always be after the prospect has spoken to a human being. This is not about sifting through a list to find the few who are not disagreeable. This is about finding the best. This is also about selling the company to these prospects who, if they are skilled, will be offered a lot of other roles. It is also about respect. If someone completes a test, you should always tell them the result.

At the end of the day, your company needs to have expertise within the hiring side so that it is not just a scattergun approach to filling the role. Finding the great CVs, reaching out and selling the company to them, understanding what kinds of tests are necessary, all of this is needed to ensure the best people are found and finessed into the job.

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