BW 28 Testing in Data and Analytics | BrainWorks

The Necessity for Specific Skills Testing in Data and Analytics Recruitment

Data literacy and skills are difficult to assess in a candidate. To get a full picture, hiring managers need to cover four areas: identifying data skills critical to the hiring company’s needs, assessing current staff capacity for those skills, performing a gap analysis to prioritize needs, and finding ways to meet them.

The use of specific skills assessments in recruiting goes a long way toward ensuring that an organization’s specific needs are being met through focused hiring.

Skills assessment tests can offer valuable insight into the hiring process by eliminating job candidates that may be under-qualified for a position, even if their resume says otherwise. In addition, it can also identify candidates that may be better suited for a role other than the one they are applying for.

Here are some of the types of assessment tests used during the hiring process:

  • Hard skills assessment
  • Work sample test
  • Cognitive ability test
  • Personality test
  • Combination approach

Hard skills assessment
These tests are used to measure a person’s skills in a specific area, such as software development. The results of hard skills testing provide valuable information about the proficiency of candidates when completing frequently performed work activities.

Work sample test
Work sample tests are designed to resemble tasks that employees are expected to perform in their position, such as situational judgment tests, case study presentations and technical coding tests. The results of these assessments are usually indicative of a candidate’s actual job performance because of how closely they mimic the actual duties related to the position.

Cognitive ability test
Unlike work sample tests that measure how applicants would perform in expected, everyday situations, cognitive ability tests assess how candidates would perform in more unexpected scenarios. They do this by evaluating a person’s ability to think abstractly when using numerical and verbal reasoning skills. Nowadays, game-based assessments are commonly used to measure cognitive ability.

Personality test
Personality tests measure specific aspects of a candidate’s personality, which can be extremely beneficial when hiring someone for a role that requires a particular demeanor. For example, a highly extroverted person would be a great fit for a role that has a lot of customer interaction, such as sales.

Combination approach
Many organizations choose to combine several assessment tests rather than utilize just one. This provides more comprehensive results that will eliminate the weaknesses of using only one assessment.


Before choosing skills assessment, recruiters must first consider several factors:

  1. Determine the client organization’s goals
    Before choosing the best test for an organization’s hiring needs, recruiters must first determine what they need to accomplish. For example, do they want to hire people with a specific skill set?
  2. Decide which skills they want to measure
    Are they soft or technical skills? Though some tests measure both, some assessments specialize in evaluating specific technical skills.
  3. Consider the preferences of the client organization’s ideal assessment
    What do you want the assessment experience to be? For example, will you use questions that are customized for the specific client organization ? Would you prefer the test to be scientifically validated? The client’s preferred characteristics of the testing’s logistics will guide their choice of instruments to be used.
  4. Research the market
    After determining your goals, which skills you want to measure and the characteristics you’re hoping the test will uncover, you can then begin researching the market for the client’s  ideal skills assessment test.

Why are skills assessments necessary?

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that changes that would previously have been dismissed as impossible are occurring at all levels from individuals, to organizations, to society itself. This has resulted in unprecedented acceleration in data and analytics that makes rapid  Data and Analytics transformations a critical factor in organizations building their future.

This combination of acceleration and rapid scaling makes Data and Analytics constructs that are rapidly design composable and decision flows using a common data fabric a necessity for disruption-ready and resilient organizations.

Using skills assessments that are tailored not only to the organization’s current needs but that also anticipate a rapidly changing future will allow recruiters to better serve their clients by targeting specific skills and recruiting for them.



BrainWorks is a prominent boutique executive search firm offering a 29-year track record of successfully sourcing and placing top talent. By harnessing proven strategies, collaborating with stakeholders, and leveraging a diverse and talented candidate network, BrainWorks helps businesses find, attract, and ultimately hire talented professionals that create differentiated results. To learn more about how Brainworks can help you, contact us.

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