Testing and work samples

Applicants should be informed in advance if tests are to be conducted as part of the selection process.


There are different kinds of tests that can be used in the selection process. Cognitive ability and psychometric tests can be used to test things such as verbal comprehension,word fluency, number aptitude, inductive reasoning, memory, perceptual speed etc. There is a range of commonly used tests available.

For general staff positions,written or other tests (eg word processing or technical skills tests) may be used to assess the applicants' depth of knowledge and/or level of skills.

Ability tests should always be based on key selection criteria and the results compared alongside the results of all other selection techniques used.

When testing, it is important to use a professional to interpret the results. Most tests are copyrighted for this reason. As there are costs associated with administering and getting normed results from the test, it is advisable to use these only after some short listing has reduced the numbers of people being considered.

The Recruitment and Appointments Branch can assist you in selecting an organisation that provides these testing services and determining the appropriate tests to use during the selection process.

Work samples

These involve an individual or group of candidates completing exercises that they would be required to undertake as part of the position.

These selection committee should determine acceptable responses or outcomes prior to administering any sort of work sample test.

Work sample tests may include activities such as:

  • writing exercises - eg preparing memos, letters or file notes; researching and analysing information and then providing written advice in response to a query from a hypothetical client/customer
  • planning exercises - eg candidates are provided with some information about a typical project and asked to draft a project plan or schedule, determine a budget or allocate resources
  • computer exercises - eg creating spreadsheets, tables, letters or diagrams
  • analysis exercises - eg candidates are provided with quantitative and qualitative data about an organisation/department and asked to draw conclusions and/or make recommendations.

Work sample tests are effective at predicting future behaviour. The may be used either after the interview or alternatively, to assist with short listing candidates prior to interview.

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