Job applicants being put to the test

It used to be a college degree or some experience in the industry could get you the job you want, but today you may be put to the test- literally- before being offered a position.

When Alyssa Sharp applied to be a marketing specialist, the HR folks put her to work, unofficially.

"They sent me this project that they asked me to do over the weekend," said Sharp.

And before Jesse Robinson landed his executive assistant role, he had to demonstrate he has what it takes and complete an online exam.

"Outline the steps that I would take for arranging travel for him, another one was sort of outline my thoughts behind a critical decision within the department and how I would handle that," said Robinson.

The hiring process Alyssa and Jesse went through is increasingly common according to consultant Matt Stevenson, who helps companies manage their workforce and increase productivity. He explained personality testing has been a part of the hiring process from some time, and now more companies are putting testing to the test.

"Now, with you know, computer games and all these sorts of things, you can actually build tests that are more like walking through a simulation and being given tasks to do," said Stevenson of Mercer.

One potential benefit for prospective hires, tests might help you get noticed if you have the talent but maybe not a lot of experience.

"By doing tests  online we can now gather all sorts of people who otherwise might have been excluded from a lot of job searches and actually pre-qualify the beforehand," said Stevenson.

And Lauren Hodgson, who helped hire Alyssa and Jesse, said testing is a critical part of finding the candidate who is the best fit for each position more important than what you can read on a resume.

"When we don't do tests, we're kind of taking a gamble and that's not something that we're interested in," said Hodgson of Infusionsoft.

"Your performance on the job typically has very little often times to do with what that GPA was or where the referral came from," said Sanjeev Angrawal of Collegefeed.

Sanjeev Angrawal created Collegefeed, a website that matches college graduates with employers. He believes these tests might eliminate good candidates who just don't test well. But, he acknowledges they can give applicants a good sense of the company and the job requirements.

He said preparation is important.

"Read up online, look for whether there are books that can prepare you for these tests. I'd say talk to people who have been in similar roles," said Angrawal.

Alyssa and Jesse each admit they worked hard to get the job, but both liked knowing they were a fit before they even started.

"It was a little intimidating, but in the end I liked it," said Sharp.

"For me, it instilled some confidence that I am in fact the right choice," said Robinson.

And it's not just company created tests that are popular. Some job applicants are submitting their standardized tests results, like the GRE or Collegiate learning assessment scores for prospective employers to consider along with their resume.