Silicon Forest: A pre-employment testing story
Many people do well in an interview, but then employers later find that they didn't have the purported skills as listed in their resume. Pre-employment testing is a way to vet potential employees in key areas of work. Silcon Forest Electronics, an electronics manufacturer in Vancouver, Washington is doing just that.
About 10 years ago they devised their own testing for the electronics industry. About two-thirds of their employee base in manufacturing assembly have English as a second language and employees must learn to read and translate work instructions in English. Therefore in early testing, they determined that applicants should be able to read drawings as well as inspect parts for errors.
Skills testing must be done to determine if applicants are qualified because they may receive 100 applicants for a position. Out of those applicants, they may hire 10. Frank Nichols, president/CEO of Silicon Forest Electronics said that, "Ten years ago we started doing it because we found that people weren't being effective on the floor. They would make mistakes and our quality would suffer because of it. We started this pre-employment process to find better candidates."
Frank Nichols, president/CEO of Silcon Forest Electronics shows off one of their parts
Their testing has evolved over time as early tests were on paper and with parts, and now testing is online. Applicants fill out a multiple choice test and by using the computer for testing, Silcion Forest can also test their computer aptitude.
They may also look at parts flled with errors to determine issues or take a test on soldering. The testing takes about two hours to complete. Ultimately the goal of pre-employment testing is to discover who has an acceptable skill level so that less time is spent training individuals once they are on the job.
Nichols notes that they are, "Looking for skilled people where the company doesn't have to do (as much) training." The amount of training needed on the job is contingent on the those scoring 70-100% on testing. They offer a basic training to new hires that is 3 days in length. If they had less qualified candidates following pre-employment testing, the post employment training would be more comprehensive. The company would like to avoid lengthy training.
There are other testing programs that are available and they are looking into them to see if they will help with pre-employment sorting.
One thing is for sure, the pre-employment testing can help lead a company to better hiring following the interview with less training.
For more information about Silicon Forest Electronics, please visit their website at www.si-forest.com.