More executives may face timed, standardized tests in job interviews

Gauging an applicant's preparedness for the rigors of an executive-level position can be difficult, and many firms are turning to standardized competency exams for help, according to The Atlantic.

Companies such as Amazon, Ford and UPS use employment testing to screen entry-level applicants and managers, while other companies are using the tests to screen applicants for higher level positions. Timed exams help employers assess problem-solving abilities and other traits that may not be reflected in resumes.

Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm with over 280 employees, has long touted its practice of using employee exams to promote based purely on merit. Vista co-founder and CEO Robert Smith, whose estimated net worth is $4.4 billion, regularly lauds the company's testing system for finding future senior-level employees in the mail room.

Exams such as the Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test give participants 15 minutes to answer 50 questions that measure problem-solving, critical thinking and learning ability. Shane Frederick, PhD, a professor at Yale School of Management, says he can predict cognitive reflection based on a select few questions included in exams. 

"If a bat and ball cost $1.10 total, and the bat costs $1 more than the ball, how much does the ball cost?" is an illuminating question Dr. Frederick uses, according to The Atlantic.

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