What Are Job Placement Tests?

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Placement tests assess what jobs are best for a person based on his personality, skills, and/or interests. Placement tests are useful for people who are just starting out in the workforce and unsure of their interests, or for people looking for a career change. If you've ever felt uncertain about what type of job is right for you, or felt directionless in your job search, you may find it helpful to take a career placement test.

Where Can You Find and Take Free Job Placement Tests?

Tests vary in length, type of questions, and specificity of results. They also vary in cost. A number of websites offer free placement tests, but often charge money if the test-taker wants to receive an in-depth analysis of his test results.

Career centers offer placement tests, and a number of job search books include tests. Be sure to select a placement test from a creditable source in order to receive the most reliable results.

How Do Placement Tests Work?

There are several different types of placement tests, all of which approach the goal of determining the best career for the test taker differently. Some placement tests are personality-driven, such as the Meyers-Briggs, which evaluates your personality type to predict which careers will (and will not) be a good fit for you. Other tests aim to match up the soft skills and hard skills required by a given career with your own skills and interests. There are also talent assessment and aptitude tests, which seeks to measure your skills.

Be aware that placement tests are only one way in which to discover the career that is right for you. Ultimately, experience (either through job shadowing, an internship, or an informational interview) will tell you whether or not a specific career is a good fit.

Should You Take a Placement Test?

While some exams (think: high school finals or the SATs) are mainly associated with feelings of dread and anxiety, other tests can be more fun. If you've ever taken a Buzzfeed quiz to find out which character in Harry Potter you're most like, you'll understand that exploring your own personality and skills can be lots of fun. But of course, a placement exam can offer you some potentially actionable information that will help you as a job applicant.

Placement exams are a useful way to open up new possibilities. You may be very skilled at comparing things and spotting errors, and not realize that makes you the perfect match for a job in quality assurance, where finding mistakes and places where a product doesn't match up to specs is vital.

Before you take a placement exam, a few considerations to keep in mind: As mentioned before, placement exams can only point you in a certain direction. Only actual experience will reveal if the career suits your interests and skills. On a related note, a person can be talented in a certain area, but not necessarily enjoy it — or, may enjoy it as a hobby or occasional task, but not want to participate in it as a career.

As well, it's possible to be very interested in a career, but unfortunately not have the skills and background knowledge, experience, and education to be a reasonable applicant. Finally, placement tests are only as accurate as the information you provide, so while you may wish to answer questions in a way that's flattering, be as honest as possible to get the most accurate results.

A placement test is not a magical solution for your uncertainty over which career is right for you. But, taking one can potentially open up possibilities that you may not have already considered, and engages you in considering your own skills, talents, and interests, which is hugely important for a successful job search.