Applying for jobs on Indeed? You may need to take a test first

You will be tested.
You will be tested.
Image: AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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Applying for a job is a test of patience and resolve. It now may also be a test of critical thinking, email writing ability, and communication skills.

Indeed, the world’s largest online jobs site, is offering employers assessments they can include in job postings to help identify candidates with the right skills. The company rolled out an initial batch of 50 tests today (May 14), in subjects that range from the general (“Attention to Detail”) to the highly specific (“Retail Skills: Shelf Stocking”). Most of the tests are designed to take 10 minutes, and have multiple choice answers.

Indeed’s new product, which is free for employers in 2018, is another step toward a smarter and more nuanced way of hiring. Employers have long been frustrated with the limitations of resumes, which tell them a lot about a job seekers’ experience and credentials but very little about their skills and temperament.

Assessments are one way of solving the problem. While companies have used personality tests for decades to measure candidates at the final stages of hiring, or to help on-board new employees, they’re now moving them up to the very beginning of the hiring process, using them as an early screening device to winnow the applicant pool. Unilever, for example, no longer asks entry-level candidates in North America for resumes, and instead sends them to an assessment site to measure their attributes.

Advocates for assessments say they offer employers a more precise and efficient way of matching jobs with candidates, while eliminating the prejudices that crop up when humans evaluate resumes. Indeed specifically touts its product as a means to “reduce bias in the hiring process.” But assessments are only as unbiased as the men and women who design them—and there’s plenty of evidence that bias can show up in automated systems ostensibly free from corrupting human influence.

Indeed’s announcement is another signal job-skill assessments are moving from a niche tool to a mass product. Like all hiring systems, the new tests will be judged not just on how well they deliver candidates to employers, but on how fairly employers use them to treat candidates.