When hiring, how can you confirm that the person actually possesses the skill set that she/he lists on the résumé, particularly when it is very technical?

Tamara Nall

President and CEO of TLN Worldwide Enterprises


First, I must emphasize the importance of consistency in hiring practices: all job applicants should be evaluated on the same criteria. This protects your organization legally and showcases commitment to fairness across job candidates. The first step is a thorough identification of the specific knowledge, skills and abilities that are both required and preferred for this job. These qualifications should be highlighted in the advertised job description.

When there is a specific technical skill that is a job requirement, you might consider using a knowledge and/or skill test or even a work sample exercise to determine if job applicants can actually do what their résumé indicates. These assessments may be completed online or by pencil and paper. Completed early in the hiring process, you can eliminate candidates who do not meet the required criteria.

Skill and knowledge tests and work sample exercises can be developed internally, although caution must be given to ensure that this specific technical skill is directly linked to job performance/success and that you are measuring it accurately. During my career with a Fortune 500 company, we used a blueprint test for specific technical engineering project management positions to ensure applicants could explain the electrical symbols and detail involved in overseeing electrical and engineering project tasks on site.

For more standardized knowledge and skill tests, there are various job assessment companies that sell these for as low as $3.50 per assessment on an applicant-by-applicant basis. A shortlist of companies includes PSI, FurstPerson and Assess Systems. I also recommend that you visit and review "Testing and Assessment: An Employer's Guide to Good Practices," located under the Products tab.

About the author

Erica Diehn is an assistant professor of management at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.