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The Resume Is Dead, Long Live Skills Testing

According to the survey, 52% of applicants say they exaggerate responsibilities and 45% make up details like the number of direct reports - stuff you can't easily double check.

By Giles Pearson.

A recent survey found a whopping 70% of job applicants admit to lying on their resumes. Talk about a resume minefield.

Resumes have always been flawed filters that don’t guarantee if someone can actually do the job. As a former PwC partner who hired many staff accountants, I found several candidates lacked expected skills even with fancy resumes.

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Resumes Are Unreliable and Don’t Cut It

According to the survey, 52% of applicants say they exaggerate responsibilities and 45% make up details like the number of direct reports – stuff you can’t easily double check.

In my experience, maybe up to 10% of new hires have such big technical gaps they should never have been hired at all. And up to half come up short on skills I would’ve expected given their supposed credentials and background.

Tests Create an Objective Safety Net

Extra assessments create an objective “safety net” so you depend less on questionable resume claims. Here are four kinds of tests I recommend you use in hiring:

Technical Knowledge Tests

Technical tests that show what a candidate can do are essential. Test-takers have to prove through doing, not just claiming on resumes, that they have must-have skills for things like bookkeeping, accounting, auditing or tax. They provide objective proof of ability that interviews and resumes often miss.

Interviews can then investigate any gaps in expected expertise to understand the story behind them and how people think on their feet.

Personality Tests

Personality evaluations give objective insights into a candidate’s work preferences, communication style, teamwork, and more.

Scientifically validated personality tests analyze traits like ethics, relationships, thinking and coping – key stuff for success in accounting. This data-based perspective shows if someone’s natural tendencies fit the role and your team.

Interviews can then dig deeper into results. Combining objective testing and probing interviews gives the clearest picture of on-the-job personality.

Cognitive Evaluations

Cognitive and IQ tests provide measurable insights into reasoning abilities, logic, and how quickly someone processes information. They play a big role in determining if thinking abilities match job demands.

The tests measure aptitude in a standardized way, avoiding subjective perceptions from resumes or interviews. Cognitive testing sounds clinical, but it’s more impartial than unstructured impressions.

Together with interviews that provide context, cognitive tests offer tangible data on processing complex info and critical thinking.

Case Studies

Well-designed case studies give candidates real-world type problems similar to actual work. For example, accountants may analyze financial statements, while tax preparers find errors on a return.

Custom scenarios show how people handle technically complex problems, apply specialized skills, and exercise sound judgment. Case studies let you evaluate competencies in action, rather than just resume claims.

Building good case studies takes time and care. Relying on real client data raises security issues. But done right, case studies can provide contrast and additional validation with the 3 more formal tests above.

Say Bye to Resume Roulette

At Accountests, we’ve developed industry-specific accounting assessments to tackle “resume roulette” in our profession.

I urge you to add validated skills testing to hiring to reduce dependence on resumes. Let’s work together to improve practices through evidence-based, objective assessments.

The resume may be dead, but skills tests can revive your faith in hiring.


Giles Pearson is the CEO and co-founder of Accountests Ltd, whose aim is to help avoid bad hires in accounting firms by using pre-employment skills and personality tests specifically designed for accountants.