Category: Job Search

Don’t Hire a Résumé Writer Before Taking These Preparation Steps

For those of you who have been out of the job search for years or maybe even decades the barebones classified section of the Sunday newspaper may come as a surprise. Gone are the days when you could pick up a couple of the local Sunday papers and circle job opening ads that you could easily fax, or email your generic résumé to.

Today’s 21st Century digital job market can begin on your smartphone and an internet search, and winds a job candidate through tunnels and caverns of steps from the initial application process, through perhaps several interviews, until you get to the final decision stage. Since this process can be so daunting and a job in itself, many folks enlist the help of a résumé writer or career coach who can help them put their best foot forward. What some don’t understand is that career coaching and even résumé and LinkedIn profile writing MUST BE a collaborative process between the client and the writer. 

The writer cannot create a compelling career story without your input.

  • You will be throwing away the money you pay the writer if you pay and then disappear expecting them to write your career story without your detailed information.
  • You risk not providing enough material to the writer that helps them create a keyword optimized résumé that boasts about 1000 characters (with spaces) within a two-page résumé.
  • Yes, a two-page résumé by the mere fact that it is two pages allows for a more keyword infused document that applicant tracking systems like.
  • At The Talent Mill / #JobSearchSuperhero we believe that a résumé’s length should be determined by the client’s years of service, their industry, the number of relevant awards, courses, certifications. In other words, each project is different, and it is not a sin to use a two page or even a three-page résumé.

So, before you search for and hire a résumé writer, you should prepare by doing the following.

*Write down notes about your career story or answer a couple of the writer’s questionnaires to provide them with content, clarity, and clear/concise information for the writer to tell a compelling career story and highlight key points in your accomplishments.

We believe that everyone can come up with accomplishments if he or she thinks back on his or her life. Keep in mind these essential facts while writing:

  • What kind of job are you seeking? To target your resume so that an actual person will see it, you should provide at least two job advertisements to the writer.
  • The writer can then scan the document against the job ad to make sure that the targeted industry and job role keywords are in your new resume. The days when you could use a “basic resume” to submit to a potential employer are long gone. It would significantly improve your chances of your résumé being seen by a human if you edit each résumé before you upload it to a corporate or recruiter website to apply for an advertised position. Your résumé will be analyzed by algorithms using whatever search query the hiring manager or recruiter entered on their end. That is why keyword dense (2 page) résumés for a mid-career to upper management person increases their chances of hitting the right target keywords and selected to be shown to the recruiter in a search for candidates.
  • What are your job titles? If you have had many years of service/employment for the same company, you must have changed roles or moved up the corporate ladder. It would be best if you were prepared to provide the writer with the job title, dates held, accomplishments, and description of what the role is.
  • What are your accomplishments? To make your resume stand out, you must show your achievements and how you helped the company. Did you bring in more clients? Have you trained people? Did you earn any recognition? How is that company better off from the service you provided for them during your time with them?
  • What honors or awards have you received? During the course of your career make sure you can document and share all the honors and awards earned over the years of employment. If you have any copies of annual reviews or reference letters from management share them with the writer.
  • What kind of professional development did you receive? Were you sent on a corporate outing or given any education to improve your performance, on the job training, and then received certification for that workshop?

After the client has provided this information they should also adhere to this:

  • Have access to a computer or laptop so they can enter their edits and promptly return them to the writer. (All free public libraries offer the use of computers)
  • Client’s cannot expect to efficiently edit their résumé on their mobile phone when necessary which will be quite often. It would be best if they at least owned a tablet with a keyboard. Microsoft Word .doc and .docx files are sent to the client along with a basic ASCII text file. They can also usually be edited and opened/viewed on free software like or however the writer is not responsible for, nor can guarantee document compatibility between software. Therefore your document may look skewed or resized. For this reason, we at The Talent Mill also include an Adobe PDF file that maintains the format. We provide our clients clear instruction with their final files on which files to use for which type of application, interview, etc.

Communicate with your writer and reply to emails which can be several during the writing process of your documents.

  • Get all the questionnaire answers back to the writer quickly. If the writer does not have information, they can’t write your resume. Remember they don’t know you personally. They ethically cannot just copy and paste data or job descriptions from another online résumé. It is imperative that the client provide answers. The career writing project is a collaborative effort, so the client needs to make themselves available to work with the writer. This is generally handled through emails or a quick text or call.
  • Résumé writers try to finish projects promptly since they continue to see more and more clients in today’s tight and downsizing job market. Most writers are usually working on documents for anywhere from two to ten clients simultaneously. Most projects are typically completed within the 7-10 day average industry turnaround time, dependent on how quickly the client returns emails, questionnaires, or text message replies from the writer or writer team.

REMEMBER: Achieving an impressive new résumé and other career documents or online profiles is a TEAM EFFORT between the client and their writer! Neither should go it alone.

Best of luck in your job search! ~Mill and the writing team 

*Need us to do it all for you? Text us at 201-667-2994 or drop us a note at 

Black Friday Half Price for a New LinkedIn Profile or Résumé

***THIS DEAL ENDED ON 11/30/2018***

(Deal Ended 11/30/18 but keep in mind that we still offer 10% discount off our listed prices at various times throughout the year and always for New Jersey residents.)

“We are currently living through what is referred to as a digital job market. This makes job searching more convenient but also a bit more complicated for the not so tech savvy. If your career documents and online brand are not crafted and monitored carefully, you could risk losing out on job opportunities. By setting up Google alerts for your own name, and securing your social channels, you will increase your odds of landing interviews in today’s tight job market. Want more tips and updates for your #JobSearch? Follow our page.” ~Mill 


If you need personalized ONE on ONE #JobSearch help ACT NOW!

Deal expires November 30, 2018. 

Black Friday Half Price Deal for a LinkedIn or a Résumé – Expires 11/30/18

Click coupon above and schedule a 20 minute free chat about your choice of either a résumé development package or a LinkedIn profile re-write or creation for 1/2 off sale or post your comments or questions here and we will get back to you ASAP. You can also use the form below and let us know what you need.


How to Handle a Job Interview If You Were Fired

by The Job Search Superhero Coaching Team


Many job-seekers today are using the web and apps to search for jobs all the time. From the time during World War II when health benefits became tied to our jobs, in many situations’ employees have been overstaying their productive years of service to an employer just to maintain their health benefits. Work scenarios like this can become toxic and inefficient as the unhappy employee tries to keep a balance between working at their current job while trying to search for their next job. In this article that speaks to why employers pay health insurance in the first place, Daniel Akst explains several ways that our current economy is being hurt by this continued practice. Although the article is from 2003, its many points are still relevant today.

Is your current job making you miserable?          Were you fired?

“There is no good reason for any of this, aside from historical accident. During World War II, federal wage controls prevented employers from wooing workers with higher pay, so companies started offering health insurance as a way around the law.” Of course, this form of compensation is still considered a form of payment as part of the hiring package today. When the war ended, the practice stuck and the rest, as they say, is history.

WWII tied US health benefits to employer

When employees try to conduct private job searches, they are caught in a precarious situation where they must try to look for their new job while still working for the current one that’s making them miserable. It is a fine line to walk.

Despite LinkedIn’s Open Candidate feature stating that they will try not to reveal your job search to your current employer, they explicitly say that there are no guarantees. If you find yourself in a situation where your employer finds out you’re looking to make a move and fires you, then that brings an added issue for your next interview. If you are at all concerned that the new company you are applying with will check all of your references then be upfront. At the very least most potential employers are sure to ask why you left your last job.

If you’re actively looking for work you should turn this feature on, however if you’re still employed be very careful.

If you find that the jobs you are interviewing are in line with your skills, but you aren’t going far in the interview process once they find out you were fired, you might be getting blacklisted. But don’t worry, there are ways to overcome this problem, and we can help. Besides helping our clients with mock interviews for their interview practice and preparation, we also help them to formulate their responses to the tough questions about why they were fired from their last job.

You’re fired now what?

As difficult as it seems, the best industry advice is that if you know they will verify your employment, then bring the topic of your being fired up yourself. Being upfront and honest about how you parted ways with your last employer has been shown to be the best approach for this difficult situation.


1) We know that it sounds better to use the terminology “I was let go because…” as opposed to “I was fired because…” so make sure to use the first and not the second statement.

2) Explain why you were let go. Do not go into extra details or information they did not ask for. Remember “less is more.”

3) Explain what you learned from that experience and how you will use your newfound knowledge to improve in your next job role.

For Example:

“Unfortunately, I was let go from my last job. I learned a lot from this experience and found out that I really thrive in job roles that engage in (fill in the blank from job ad). I am very excited about and interested in this job because (fill in the blank from job ad) is one of my strongest skills and that seems to be one of the most important duties of this job role.”

You will still likely encounter some people that don’t want to hire you because you were let go. It is out of your control that some companies can’t look past your imperfect work history and give you a chance. We personally believe that everyone deserves a second chance to prove themselves and there are many others out there that will too. The interviewer could be passing up on the most successful and dedicated employee, and it’s your job to convince them that your seemingly lousy experience actually helped you grow and learn a valuable lesson you can bring you to your next work assignment.


Practice practice practice in mock interviews!

Make sure to start developing your LinkedIn profile and working on getting recommendations from former co-workers at your previous employer if they are willing to do this. Or they can write you an email reference. Remember to start building connections on LinkedIn and in local community career groups as they can help tell you about open jobs and perhaps get you in there with a word to the hiring manager.

Build your network before you need it

You should always anticipate that the company or recruiter will likely reach out to your past employer to try to get their side of the story. Fortunately, most companies are afraid of lawsuits, so the usual safe reply they stick to is “we only confirm dates of employment and job title.” One of the services we provide to our clients is to call their past employers for professional references and then we report what they say back to our job-seeking candidate. This way they can know what their last employer is saying about their time working for them. Many companies have existing employees sign non-disclosure and separation agreements before they release any severance pay. Make sure to read the fine print that way you will know if either one of you are violating the terms of your separation agreement.

Do your own background check pre-interview or hire a professional agency like The Talent Mill to do it for you.

Remember that you are not the first to be let go from a job, or to leave on bad terms. Many have found great jobs after that. So, don’t let anxiety kill your job search and stick to your exit story. Do not embellish. Do not talk bad about your previous employer, and just explain how valuable the experience was and how you will switch it up and use it to do better work.

Think positive thoughts. Practice your interview. Believe that you too can be hired = You are hired!



As always, we wish you the best of luck in your job search! 🙂


P.S. Look for new job search resource documents and templates to be added to our site in the coming weeks as we work to add more helpful tools for your career toolkit.






General Disclaimer

We at, including The Talent Mill and/or Mill Montejo, are not recruiters. We do not provide, intend to provide or claim to provide job matching services. We provide coaching services utilizing our industry experience and the knowledge gained through our membership with various résumé writing and career non-profit organizations. We develop tools and methods also used by other national career coaches in order to help our clients job search. We do not and will not place individuals into any new jobs, positions or industries. We do not claim or guarantee that by purchasing our services you will find a job. These results are strictly dependent on the individual and the actions each individual takes given tips, resources, training, and advice, as well as the individual job-seeker’s personal interview style.  You alone are responsible for your actions and your results in your professional career. Any statements, training, advice, reports or mock interviews provided within our services, seminars, webinars, videos, chats, phone calls, and/or meetings are strictly our professional opinion. By law we make no guarantees or claims that you will achieve any results, including without limitation financial or employment benefits, from any of the service or opinions offered by




If You’re Not on The Web, You’re Dead – Ten Reasons Why

By Mill Montejo the #JobSearchSuperhero


Ever since I left Corporate America in 2012 I have worked hard to increase my online presence through many social platforms. The inner geek in me saw the technology changes and direction many industries were taking and are continuing to head into.

If you’re not on the web you may as well be dead

I must share that many of my resume and LinkedIn clients often complain about how the nature of hiring has changed so drastically that they spend months looking for work to no avail. What are they doing wrong? Highly qualified, great references, yet no calls for an interview! The facts are simply this. Gone are the days when you could peruse a help wanted ad in the NY Times send out 40 resumes by “snail mail” and get someone to see or respond. Technology has made it possible for current employers to do more with less. On the bright side, using the same technology new industries have emerged that allow people to employ themselves with the biggest perk being flexible work schedules.

By using crowdsourced data, companies are helping to make life more efficient today for society at large. My goal is to educate clients on how we are entering the height of the technological revolution and there is no placing that ‘genie back in the bottle.’ As hard as it is to hear and accept, if you are not on the web, you may as well be dead.

the tech-genie is never going back into the bottle and is here to stay

So, if you want to be found in today’s changing technological world, you MUST have some type of web presence or you are invisible. You won’t be found and it will be extremely challenging to find that job or get that client if you work for yourself.  We need to adapt and change HOW we get noticed and connect through forums like LinkedIn or your own personal websites. If you are not on the web, you are dead.


Here are 10 things everyone should know about the web and how to use it to your advantage:

  1. You have to reinvent yourself. After years of work, today’s job market has changed tremendously. It used to be the norm that you could find ads online, send your resume that read “proven track record in…” Now resumes must be keyword heavy, with no grammatical or spelling errors, and plenty of numbers and facts to back up the “proven track record” you are claiming. There are many experienced job seekers for less available open jobs. It is an employers job market.
  2. Many job seekers still have a hard time believing that they can also find work by selling the skills they have built up through the years whether in school, work, or life.
  3. All they have to do is find a way to solve local people’s problems.
  4. Crowdsourcing apps WORK because people want to find the help that they need easily, quickly, and with the touch of a phone screen

If you have a smartphone in your purse or pocket then you know there is nothing more convenient than summoning it for everything you need

        For Example:

a) I needed a dog sitter quickly to check in on my new puppy on Fathers Day so I went on’s app. Within a couple hours, a dog sitter was in my yard meeting my dog.

Need a dog sitter in a hurry? There’s an app for that.

b) I needed a gutter and tree trimming contractor. I found them via my local neighbor recommendations on the Nextdoor app that started as a neighborhood watch app and has grown to include home sales, garage sales, contractor recommendations and more.

Need any type of home services or repairs? There’s an app for that too.

c) Need an order of food picked up at a local restaurant that does not offer delivery? There are people who drive their own vehicles that now provide that service.

Think about where there are needs and sell your skills there. Go where the needs for services are.

5. People want convenience and are willing to spend a little extra, or in different ways to achieve it. Technological advances have put many people out of work, but they are also creating new innovative, and more flexible ways to work. 

6. Going to a new state and need a cheap place to stay for a couple of days? All the hotels booked or too expensive? Check out Airbnb where people like you and me rent out their couches, bedrooms, or garages for temporary use.

7. Need a last-minute ride somewhere local and can’t find a taxi or car service that has available cars? If you’re in an urban area or large city you can see available cars practically circling your home or location on a live map on your phone and summon them for a quick ride.

8. We must accept the fact that this tech-genie will never be put back into the bottle. You must adapt and change to survive in the digital economy and job market.

9. Don’t waste your energy on anger, resentment, fear of the future, and anxiety. If you can, instead turn that into renewed energy and think hard about your skills and how you can market and sell them to your local public.

10. In some cases, your clients don’t even have to be local. Because of the very same technology that’s put you out of work, people can reach and teach others stuff across the globe. If you produce online goods or services that others are willing to pay for then you can work from anywhere and make money.


In closing I would say that you have to think of everything as being able to be crowdsourced through an app or a website. Merriam Webster defines crowdsourcing as “the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people and especially from the online community rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.” If you teach guitar, get on a crowdsourcing app, if you teach art, do the same. The jobs and exposure could add up to future and steady repeat clients, or recruiters and employers wanting to interview you.

Want us to help you get started, or do it all for you including sending out resumes, Myers-Briggs Testing, and personal reference and background checks on yourself so you know what they’re saying about you? Send us a message at or see all services and schedule a time to chat with us at

TheTalentMill | JobSearchSuperhero Calendar.


The Jobseeker’s Guide to Pre-Employment Testing by the Job Search Superhero

If you are a new graduate entering the workforce — or an experienced professional who is considering a job change — you might be surprised when you’re asked to take a test as part of the application and/or interview process. Although you may have been out of school for years, feelings of “test anxiety” can unexpectedly resurface.

Pre-employment screening is now part of the job seeking process at many companies so be prepared.

Pre-employment testing has been around for more than 50 years, and can take on many forms. Some tests — such as drug screenings and background checks — protect companies from hiring an applicant who may be a legal or security risk. Other tests help companies identify candidates who are the right fit for the job based on their skills, personality, values, and motivations. 

Some tests are administered as part of the “screening” process — narrowing down the pool of applicants to those who meet the basic requirements. Others are used as part of the “hiring” process — once a pool of candidates has been identified (or perhaps even initially interviewed), pre-employment tests can be used to further narrow the number of candidates being considered. 

Research estimates that nearly 65 percent of employers use some sort of pre-employment skills test that is designed to confirm that applicants have the skills they say they have. And, according to a survey by the American Management Association, “Almost 90 percent of firms that test job applicants say they will not hire jobseekers when pre-employment testing finds them to be deficient in basic skills.”

With the average length of job tenure at 2.8 years for employees age 25 to 34 — according to a 2016 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics — more and more hiring managers are turning to objective pre-employment tests to evaluate whether a candidate can do the job, or learn it quickly. 

To the jobseeker’s benefit, tests are more objective than résumé reviews, pre-interview screening calls, and unstructured interviews. Effective assessments are closely tied to the performance of a particular job. Ideally, there would be a correlation: candidates who do well on the test would do well in performing the job, and conversely, those who score poorly on the test would likely perform poorly on the job.

Types of Pre-Employment Tests

The type of testing discussed here does not include drug and physical exams/ability tests and is distinct from the testing required to earn professional certifications and licenses (requirements established by law or by industry standards). The most commonly used assessments included in the pre-employment process fall into two broad categories.

Some tests are closely focused on job-related skills and abilities (hard skills). For example, a software proficiency test, language proficiency exam, or a test that assesses physical and motor abilities). Others assess more personal information, such as personality traits, emotional intelligence, and personal values (soft skills). 

Know all the hurdles ahead of time.

Job Knowledge Tests & Employment Aptitude Tests

Job knowledge tests measure a candidate’s technical or theoretical expertise in a field. These kinds of tests are most useful for jobs that require specialized knowledge or high levels of expertise. For example, an accountant may be asked about basic accounting principles. Some companies invest in custom assessments for major categories of employees (like cable technicians), based on scores of high-performing employees. The results are predictive of performance, especially for low scorers.

While job knowledge tests determine the applicant’s current level of knowledge or skill, cognitive or aptitude tests determine an applicant’s potential ability to perform the job functions once trained — in other words, an applicant’s capacity for learning the required skills to be successful if hired. These tests are usually written or oral and are used to measure a candidate’s reasoning (verbal, numerical, and inductive), memory, perceptual speed and accuracy, as well as skills in arithmetic and reading comprehension.

Cognitive ability tests measure a candidate’s general mental capacity — what most people mean by “intelligence,” although true intelligence has many other aspects as well. These kinds of tests are much more accurate predictors of job performance than interviews or experience.

All jobs require some degree of “people skills.” According to a Harvard Study, 15 percent of the reason a person is hired is based on hard skills, while 85 percent of the reason people excel on the job and are successful is based on their people skills. With this in mind, the most widely used assessments measure soft skills. There are three general categories of tests that assess soft skills: personality tests, integrity tests, and emotional intelligence tests.


Personality Tests

When applicants apply for a job online these days, they are increasingly being asked to take personality tests — even before they exchange an email or have a phone interview with a hiring manager. Personality assessments can offer insight into a candidate’s cultural fit and whether their personality can translate into job success. The goal of these tests is to hire people who fit the profile of the ideal employee the organization is seeking.

Personality tests are on the rise. A 2011 report revealed that the use of personality assessments was then increasing by as much as 20 percent per year, and it has grown to a $400-million-a-year industry. There are several reasons driving this trend.

Prior to the Internet era, companies would place a help-wanted ad in a newspaper and be lucky if 30-40 candidates applied; now a single job posting can have hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants. This places an extra burden on recruiters and HR professionals to screen, select, and place candidates in roles that fit their personalities to keep them engaged. According to a 2013 Gallup study, low employee engagement results in 21 percent lower productivity and about 45 percent higher turnover.

Replacing employees is extremely costly; a point made by Susan Stabile, a professor of law at St. John’s University in her article, “The Use of Personality Tests as a Hiring Tool: Is the Benefit Worth the Cost?” Data collected has shown that that the typical cost of replacing a bad hire is about 1.5 times the worker’s salary and benefits. 

Personality traits have been shown to correlate to job performance in different roles. For example, salespeople who score high on extraversion and assertiveness tend to perform better. Additionally, companies are looking for a recruitment tool that gives quantifiable measures and thus can stand up to legal challenges. 

Many personality tests are now delivered online, where they can be processed immediately and evaluated against thousands of other candidates. The test format can vary from a brief written assessment to a long psychological examination. These tests typically measure one or more of five personality dimensions: extroversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience.


Integrity Tests

Employee theft and fraud costs a company on average $9 per day per employee in the U.S. Lie detector testing is mostly prohibited by law; however, pre-employment testing may often include integrity or honesty tests. Questions are designed to examine an applicant’s attitude and approach towards risky work behavior, theft, and lying; misuse of company resources, email, and the Internet; use of drugs and alcohol; trust with confidential information; and personal responsibility, including safety and dependability. 

Employee integrity tests take two forms: overt and covert. Overt integrity tests refer directly to dishonest and counterproductive behaviors (theft, cyber-loafing, absenteeism, etc.). Covert testing is personality-based. These tests assess integrity by proxy (e.g., conscientiousness). 


Emotional Intelligence Testing

Closely related to integrity, emotional intelligence (EQ) is an individual’s ability to understand his or her own emotions and the emotions of others. Strong emotional intelligence is important for most jobs — and critical for some — since emotionally intelligent people can work well with colleagues, interact with the public, and handle disappointments and frustrations in a mature and professional way. In general, tests that measure EQ have some predictability of job performance.

Often applicant integrity and EQ are assessed simultaneously. For example, the online application for McDonald’s includes 35 questions for jobseekers, and they range from the very job-specific to more general questions. Here’s a sampling: 

  • While you are on break, a customer spills a large drink in a busy area of the restaurant. Cleaning the floors is the job of another team member, but he is taking a customer’s order. What would you do?
  • I am sometimes unkind to others.
  • I often lose my patience with others.
  • I dislike having several things to do on the same day.

With so many types of pre-employment tests what is a jobseeker to do to prepare for one?

Legal and Ethical Considerations of Pre-Employment Testing

Pre-employment assessments are legal; however, companies are required to ensure that their testing does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, disability, or age. In other words, the test must comply with Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws. To accomplish this, tests must be properly administered (the same to all candidates), validated (measure what they are designed to measure), and related to the job to which you’re applying. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) makes it unlawful for private employers with 15 or more employees — and local, state, and federal government employers — to discriminate against qualified applicants with disabilities. This means that employers to whom the ADA applies must take care that any pre-employment testing analyzes skills and does not screen out disabled candidates simply because they are disabled.

To best comply with the requirements of ADA, employers should, whenever possible, avoid giving a pre-employment test that may pose problems for persons with impaired sensory, speaking, or manual skills (and certain learning disabilities, such as dyslexia), unless it is designed to assess skills required to perform the job.

Under the doctrine of disparate impact, employers also may not use hiring practices that — even though neutral on the surface and applied to all applicants — disproportionately exclude members of a protected category. The first U.S. Supreme Court case addressing the issue involved a company’s high school diploma requirement for screening labor applicants. Although the employer was not acting intentionally, this requirement excluded a substantially higher number of African-American applicants than it did Caucasians.

The Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) of 1988 prohibits most private employers from using lie detector tests — either for pre-employment screening or during the course of employment. Employers generally may not require or request any employee or job applicant to take a lie detector test — or discharge, discipline, or discriminate against an employee or job applicant for refusing to take a test — or for exercising other rights under the Act. There are certain exceptions that apply, such armored car personnel and personnel employed in public safety occupations.

It is absolutely fine to ask which type of screening the company will use.

How to Prepare For a Pre-Employment Test

Job knowledge and aptitude tests are nothing to be afraid of. And, approached with the right attitude, an assessment is actually a great opportunity for jobseekers to stand out from the competition. Most personality tests are designed to be used by psychologists. However, there are some tests available which can be interpreted by non-psychologists. Pre-employment personality, integrity, and EQ tests have no “right” answers; applicants are simply evaluated on the answers they give.

The Sparks Group, a temporary staffing and full-time recruiting services provider, offers this advice: 

  • ​When contacted about an interview, ask the potential employer if you will be expected to complete an assessment. If the answer is “yes,” ask what type of assessment test and approximately how long the test will take. This will give you a rough idea of what to expect.
  • ​Inquire as to how the results of your test will be factored into the hiring decision. Without giving the impression that you lack competency in an area, ask how well you must perform on the assessment test to be considered for the position.
  • ​If you’re being tested on a specific hard skill/occupational area, be sure to review the basic concepts and seek out practice quizzes online. Many practice quizzes are readily available in math, grammar, spelling, and literacy.
  • ​If you’ll be completing a soft skills assessment test, try taking a few practice personality assessment quizzes online (such as the Myers-Briggs personality test). By learning a bit more about your personal and professional behavioral traits, you’ll go into the assessment confident and knowledgeable about your abilities.
  • ​On a soft skills assessment test, try to answer all questions as honestly and consistently as possible. These tests often ask similar questions several times to measure whether you’re being sincere. Consider the organization as you respond — and, when possible — try to align your answers with the company’s corporate style.
  • ​Read all questions carefully. The most common mistake people make on any type of test is misreading questions or failing to properly follow instructions. Don’t let your nerves get the best of you. Take your time and ensure that you fully comprehend what’s being asked.
  • ​After you’ve completed the assessment(s), make a few notes for yourself. This will allow you to speak knowledgably about the assessment process during the interview. Demonstrating that you took the test seriously will show the potential employer your commitment to the position. Don’t be afraid to ask the hiring manager how you did. Even if you receive criticism or negative feedback, knowing how you might improve in the future is invaluable information.

CEB Global has many practice tests available on its website, separated into categories such as verbal or numerical reasoning, personality, reading comprehension, mathematical calculations, and IT knowledge tests. Although they do not attempt to provide you with an exact like-for-like experience of the assessments you may be asked to complete, they do provide a similar testing experience, in terms of question types and formats.

Learn more here:

Popular Pre-Employment Assessments


Caliper Profile

Around for about 50 years and widely used by various companies across the U.S., the Caliper Profile evaluates how an individual’s traits will relate to his or her job performance. There are a few different types of questions. Candidates encounter a series of statements from which they must determine the statement that best matches their perspective. Other questions require them to choose the statement that least reflects their perspective.

There may also be true/false questions, as well as questions with a five degree of agreement scale. The Caliper Profile is unique in the sense that it examines both positive and negative qualities to provide a well-rounded picture of an individual.

Gallup StrengthsFinder

This test was created a few decades ago, when research by Gallup suggested that personality assessments focused too much on weaknesses. Based on responses to 177 statements that speak to 34 positive traits that the test-taker might possess — from discipline to communication — the test identifies the top 5 strengths out of all 34 that most strongly represent the prospective employee.

Conducted as an online assessment, two statements are presented on each screen of the test. Respondents must pick the statement that best describes them. They can note that it “strongly describes” them, that their connection to both statements is “neutral,” or it falls somewhere in between.

Unlike the Caliper, Gallup looks at strengths that are real indicators of success, rather than simply flushing out people’s negatives and downside. For example, you may rank highly in positivity, implying that you’d be stellar in a position that has you dealing with rejection on a regular basis — such as at a call center, or in fundraising. Or perhaps, you score as an achiever, suggesting that you might naturally excel at Type-A gigs, like an executive or another high-level manager role.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

One of the most well-known tools for mapping employee personalities is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). According to the test’s publisher, 89 of the Fortune 100companies use the MBTI. The MBTI measures whether an employee’s personality leans toward one of two tendencies in the following groupings: Extraversion vs. Introversion, Intuition vs. Sensing, Thinking vs. Feeling, and Judging vs. Perceiving. An employee can fall into one of 16 personality types. 

The Myers-Brigg Type Indicator allows employers to determine if a candidate would be a good cultural fit for the company and thus be able to transition into a team with ease. The MBTI has 93 questions that are presented at a 7th-grade reading level. The questions are formatted in an A/B format, meaning a question will ask if you prefer A over B.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is not a normalized exam, nor are the questions scaled. It has not been proven valid for recruitment use, but is more appropriate for understanding how a candidate may perform in a group.

The SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire

One of the most established workplace personality assessments, the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire has been around for more than 30 years. Now owned by CEB, the questionnaire helps employers identify behaviors that directly impact job performance — and candidates who are most likely to be dependable workers based on these behaviors.

The test is comprised of 104 questions that measure 32 specific personality characteristics. These are clustered within three domains — relationships with people, thinking style, and feelings and emotions — which align with various occupations.

Predictive Index

The Predictive Index (PI) is a behavioral assessment tool that determines the unique motivators for workplace behavior of employees and helps employers make informed and sound hiring decisions to benefit a company as well as the employees. PI tests are a modern way for employers to pick out the strongest potential employees. 

Since online applications can be easy to falsify — and there is no personal attachment or indication of personality (as in handwriting) — employers need to see what skills you truly possess. The developers of the test claim it is based on reliable scientific research and therefore eliminates the element of human bias, making it highly reliable in the eyes of hiring managers.

Used in a variety of industries — including finance, manufacturing, hospitality, and transportation — the Predictive Index assessment takes approximately 10 minutes to complete, and the results are interpreted immediately. This test utilizes different statements to measure your personality; the best way to answer is to be as honest as possible. Avoiding strong answers and sticking with neutral options results in a lower score.

Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test (CCAT) 

The CCAT is a general pre-employment aptitude test that measures problem-solving abilities, learning skills, and critical thinking. The CCAT practice test consists of 50 questions in logic, math, verbal ability, and spatial reasoning, and has a 15-minute time limit.

CCAT scores are determined by a raw score, which is simply the number of questions answered correctly. This score can be translated into a percentile to indicate the job applicant’s result compared to others. Each position has a suggested range of raw scores, and once your score is within that suggested range, it means that you are competent for the position.

Kenexa Prove It! Skills Testing

Used frequently by staffing agencies and companies doing large scale hiring — such as staffing a call center — the aim of this test is to “prove” that you have the skills and abilities to use specific programs, such as Word and Excel. 

The length of each assessment varies — from 15-30 minutes for nontechnical assessments, to 45-60 minutes for more technical ones. The assessments are not timed, but this is the average amount of time needed to take them. You can’t skip any questions or return to previous screens to change your answers. But you can take the assessment again — as many times as you wish. Employers will not have access to your results, though a staffing agency might ask you to take one of these tests to determine what you’re best at — to assess which skills on your résumé are provable, and where you might match best.

Profile XT

Primarily used for pre-hire screening, employee selection, onboarding, managing, coaching, and strategic workforce planning, the Profile XT is described as a “Total Person” assessment. Administered online, it measures the job-related qualities that make a person productive — thinking and reasoning style, behavioral traits, and occupational interests — and predicts job success. Using “Job Match Patterns,” the assessment can be customized by company, department, manager, position, geography, or any combination of these factors.

The EQ-i 2.0

Created by Multi-Health Systems, Inc., the EQ-i 2.0 may be the best way to assess a candidate’s emotional intelligence. The assessment breaks down a person’s overall EQ score into five composite scores and 15 “subscales,” which include things like “emotional expression” and “problem solving.” This allows for the assessment to produce truly granular pictures of potential hires.

These are just a few of the many assessment tools being used by HR, recruiters, and hiring managers as part of the screening and hiring process. If you are “invited” to take a test that is not included in this list, don’t panic. Simply doing a Google search of the assessment by name will most likely reveal all kinds of information about the test — and possibly even let you try it out.


Although pre-employment testing may appear to be only beneficial to the employer, in reality, the jobseeker also wins. It is far better to be screened out of a position and/or company that does not fit one’s skills, values, and personality than to be hired for the position, and eventually dread going to work every day.


The Talent Mill | Help Write Resume | Job Search Superhero staff is always looking for new ways to help our job seeking clients to gain an advantage and prepare for the interview, psychological screening tests, background checks on yourself so you can know what they’re saying before you go on the interview, batch resume sending, interview and other cheat sheets and more. Feel free to fill out our contact form with any questions about our services.