Work sample test

Work sample test
Primary topic
Related topics
Methods and techniques

Work sample test - generally it is a research method applied in the field of Human Resources and known for decades. The aim of this method is to match the employee or the applicant with the best possible job position. These tests check whether the employee's behavior and his abilities are consistent with the required characteristics by the specificity of the work. It is also used in applied psychology.


In a nutshell, the work sample test is a kind of simulation. It consists on performing tasks by the employee, which reenact the realities of his work in potential position. This process reveales not only skills of the employee, but also his aptitudes, therefore it enables to predict if the person is suitable for work and can cope with practical difficulties in the future. There are different types of work sample tests, for example (Callinan M., Robertson I. T. 2000, pp. 248-255):

  • trainability test
  • situational test
  • job knowledge test
  • assessment centre exercises

It should be also mentioned that this method applies to both the psychological and physical aspects of the job. Usually, the work sample test consists of more exercises than one to check the employee performance in various fields of work. However, it must be borne in mind that results in not all areas are adequately reliable, therefore other factors should also be taken into account in the assessment process (Bobko Ph., Buster M., McFarland L. 2005, pp. 1010, 1031). What is interesting, the work sample tests are also useful in psychological experiments in studies about different human abilities. Besides this kind of test, there are other methodes using in personnel selection and organizational assessment, for exemple the reasonig test (Kersting M., Stoeber J. 2007, p. 3).

Advantages and disadvantages[edit]

It has to be highlited that popularity of the work sample tests is caused by confirmed high predictive validity by many researchers. Moreover, the tasks which correlate with the job requirements are perceived by applicants as fair. Interestingly, researches shows that these tests are righteous also to ethnic diversity and have no racial impact on performance results. Among the most important advantages of the work sample test, there should be mentioned such as (Callinan M., Robertson I. T. 2000, p. 248):

On the other hand, researches notice, that there are some limitations of this approach. First of all, it only makes sense in case of applicants who already have professional experience. Besides this, working out the entire procedure of the work sample test generates additional costs, not only that financial ones. It is also time-consuming, because the tasks for each position should be different thus it requires an individual approach and qualified specialists in specific area so that they could create properly tasks for the employees (Callinan M., Robertson I. T. 2000, p. 249).


Author: Agnieszka Wierzba