Hiring Step 10: Test Candidates


Learn about the candidates’ writing ability, English language skills, computer skills, and/or technical knowledge of their fields.

How to do this:

  1. Write the test.  We’ve provided a number of different samples below.  Use them or modify them as necessary:

Database Assistant

Finance Officer

Operation & Transport Coordinator


PO Shelter

SPO- Shelter NFI

Construction Management

Engineering Technical Advisor (Engineering TA Test- scoring)

2. Some tips:  You could be evaluating one or all of the following list of skills.  Some may be more important than others.  Some may not be important for certain positions at all.  Decide which are important to evaluate and write questions that will show you the candidates’ skills in those areas and the technical knowledge required to do the job as written in the JD.

  • Writing ability.  Does the candidate write with a logical flow of paragraphs from one to the next, does she use good reasoning skills in making an argument?
  • Computer skills.  For example, does he really know Excel as he said he did on his CV?  How well does he know it?
  • Written English language skills.

3. Assign each question a point value according to the difficulty of getting to the answer and the importance of the information to the job.  Make sure the total value of all the questions adds up to 100.

4. Make the tests shorter than you would during a non-emergency hiring process.

5. As you are preparing the test, also prepare an answer key (a document that lists the right answers).  This will make the grading faster.  But make only one copy until after the test, and keep it locked up (or on your computer).

6. Decide on the minimum passing score and write it down on the answer key.  If a candidate gets less that this score, consider not interviewing him.  This will save you time.

7. Arrange a quiet space and a time where candidates will take the exam.  In an emergency setting, it is best if they can all take the exam at the same time. But this may mean you need a lot of space.

8. Invite the candidates for that place and time.  Because this is an emergency, you might want to interview them the same day.  If you do, make sure they know this when you are scheduling the time with them.

9. Arrange for the equipment and materials needed for the exam to be available (computers, paper, pens, etc.).  In an emergency setting, it is best if they can all take the exam at the same time, but this may mean you need many computers.

10. Arrange for someone to be in the room to monitor the testing while it is going on.

11. Arrange for people to grade the tests as soon as the candidates are finished. (You will give the graders the answer key).

12. Conduct the test – making sure that all candidates get exactly the same amount of time to work on it.

13. Grade the tests.

14. Based on the grades, decide whom you will interview.  You can interview all the candidates, only those who passed, only those who scored above a certain number, or only the top two or three.  Do whatever you think will save you the most time while also getting you the best candidate.

Because this is an emergency situation, you can do the interviews the same day, immediately after the test. If you will do the tests and interviews at the same time, you should make sure the candidates know this when you call them to schedule the test, so they can plan on a large block of time.

Next Step:

Step 11:  Interview candidates