Can a 20-Minute Test Tell Employers What a College Degree Cannot?

When it comes to hiring, many employers still lean toward graduates from name-brand institutions. Yet … too many graduates “don’t get a shot at the high-value jobs they should be getting,” says Roger Benjamin, president of the Council for Aid to Education. “That’s a big deal in a liberal democracy.”…

Companies and others spend $1 billion a year on hiring assessments. But most of that testing identifies whether applicants have skills for a specific job, not whether they are critical thinkers. And those targeted tests come into play later in the hiring process, not at the screening stage…

The interest in finding an ideal pre-hire screening test arises from a broader societal push for more hiring based on proven competencies rather than academic pedigrees, with companies like Google and Ernst & Young having famously declared that they would no longer require a degree… In fact, two-thirds of the jobs that call for a bachelor’s degree require problem-solving, critical-thinking, and writing skills.

At the same time, higher education has begun rethinking the way it recognizes students’ skills. More institutions have turned to competency-based degree programs or the use of badges and other new forms of credentials to signal students’ skills to employers and others.