Is there a really basic computer user test out there?
February 26, 2013 6:13 AM   Subscribe

After having to show some production employees where the SHIFT key is and why you would use it, I'm starting to wonder if there's a test out there, preferably web-based and cheap or free, that would put a potential hire through some paces and test for speed and accuracy on doing basic tasks.

We're a Windows 7 shop, mainly, so it should be oriented to that, I suppose.

I've done some googling and found some tests, but they tend to be multiple-choice quizzes and ask things like "Is a mouse an input device?" If possible, I'd like to open a web site and have a semi-structured environment where they're asked to do things like click into a window, type, open and close windows, etc. Some assessment of practical typing speed would be a nice plus, although not critical as I've found tools to do that.

In the past I've done something similar by having a potential hire sit down and ask them to do stuff, but I'm wondering if there's something out there where I could get a standardized score I could benchmark. It would be good from an HR standpoint to be able to say (either to the candidate or internally): "We require a 75 and the candidate scored a 2" or the like.

Note that I'm not screening IT or tech-support candidates - I'm trying to figure out if the person can operate a PC at a level comparable to a typical office or factory worker so that we can train them on our processes and tasks, not on how to operate Windows or handle web browser conventions.
posted by randomkeystrike to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know the name of the program, but I know a place you could check with - temp agencies. I always got put through my paces for different software when I registered with a temp agency (and sometimes it got really basic), so I imagine they would know where to find this.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:19 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Following EmpressCallipygos's suggestion, I once signed up with a temp agency that asked me to complete a series of Microsoft Office tests using a third-party service called Prove It!. The tests were really quite basic, but also very reasonable. The questions were not multiple choice, but rather asked you to complete certain tasks (type a sentence, make it bold, print the page, ...) in a simulated Office environment. I personally thought that made a lot of sense as you want to test for practical skills, some of which might be difficult to verbalize into a multiple-choice question.

I'm sure there are many other vendors offering similar testing systems, at a variety of different price points. Alternatively, I think you could just give the prospective employee a task to complete (e.g., open Word, type this document and make sure to get the formatting right, save it in nn folder, close Word). After all, "work samples" is all the rage in hiring these days, anyway.
posted by yonglin at 6:37 AM on February 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

I used to work for a temp agency, and would offer this online service to potential clients as an enticement to use my services.

For the life of me, I can't recall the name of the program, but having been a temp previously, I can say it was a service used by a number of different temp agencies, so it is absolutely out there.
posted by waterisfinite at 6:38 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Prove it! That's the one.
posted by waterisfinite at 8:09 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also recommending prove it! as a decent practical test for Microsoft skills
posted by brilliantine at 10:28 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

A basic typing test can be useful for this, even if you don't actually need them to do data entry. Although some will disagree, I think typing speed/accuracy is at least roughly correlated with general IT ability. It's a good thing to test because it works irrespective of their knowledge of any specific software.
posted by Lanark at 11:26 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't know if it was ProveIt or something similar that I took before getting hired most recently, but yeah, that's probably what you want.

Do, please, discuss each person's results with them at least briefly. I felt mildly annoyed that I lost points on one task in the assessment because (oh hai, pretty experienced Office user here) I right-clicked for a context menu instead of using the real menus, and the Word simulator didn't like that. Luckily it didn't affect my score materially, but it would have been nice to have had the opportunity to mention it.
posted by Lexica at 6:56 PM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thanks all for the comments. I will look into Prove It. I do agree that typing is a useful indicator of overall proficiency.
posted by randomkeystrike at 7:53 PM on February 26, 2013

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