We are a very small (10) firm and have a few positions opening up in the next couple of weeks. They are simple admin "Data entry" type positions.

Normally, we would dedicate quite a bit of time to sorting through the available candidates, screening, then having them in for personal interviews, etc. We already have 50 applicants, and I imagine we can find one or two good applicants in this pool.

In this case, my client desires a quick and easy approach - in her opinion, these people are just there to enter data, so she wants to do things like assess basic competency and words per minute first.

Pre-employment testing has come to mind, but it seems quite expensive and I'm not confident in the results. Also, many of the applicants are entry-level with little experience on their resumes. Hence:

Are there any guides, industry standards, or reputable lists that can assist here in optimizing this process? I think I must be missing search terms as I can't find anything of quality (all low quality "best testing employees!" types sites with grammar errors on the typing speed intro page).

Tl;DR How do we hire a few competent data entry people quickly?

  • So you are a 10 people company, and are screening 50 candidates for a few (2?) positions? You can also desk-reject some of those candidates, so you can then proceed to test them further.
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 19:35
  • 1
    Yes you've got this correct. What do you mean by desk-reject in this context? Test them, look at product, then reject or accept?
    – Gryph
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 19:38
  • 1
    Every other person has their own theory about what the ideal interview process is - seems too broad / opinion-based (and also potentially too specific to the job you're recruiting for) to be on topic here. Your question might be better suited to a discussion forum. Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 19:49
  • @Dukeling this is why I am requesting guides, industry standards, search terms I may have missed because I'm not familiar with terminology, and other info. A software recommendation isn't ideal here of course, but mayve it would at least give me an idea of the points of interest in an offering like that.
    – Gryph
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 19:52
  • @Gryph posted an answer explaining some options you can try
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 19:52

3 Answers 3


Have a basic typing test, a basic phone test, and a basic data entry test and one thing with some problem solving and following the commands test.

You don't need much more than that. Then a few simple screening tests for ethics like "Which is worse, stealing or yelling at a coworker".

VERY basic stuff is all you need.

Edited to add:

Most of these things can be found with a quick google search. Invite as many in as you like, have them take the basic tests, then give personal interviews to those who pass

  • Ok, fair enough - but where do I find these types of tests that I can use to screen employees that are not in the thousands of dollars? Or perhaps you mean I screen the employees on-site and therefore use some of the free options? Group type interviews?
    – Gryph
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 19:12
  • What's your position OP?
    – Isaiah3015
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 19:18
  • @Gryph see edit above Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 19:18
  • @Isaiah3015 I'm a consultant with the project (agile, legal, management consulting), however, I'm the de facto firefighter as well.
    – Gryph
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 19:22
  • @Gryph these tests you can well google them as suggested or make your own custom tests, so you better fill your company's needs
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 19:53

It came to my attention that you are a small (10) company, but already have a candidate pool of about 50 people (5 times the size of your company), for a few (what, two?) positions.

Normally, if you had fewer candidates you could even screen them one-by-one in a more thorough manner. However, given the company/candidate/openings ratio, what I suggest is a two-step approach:

  1. Desk reject screening: This is a term more commonly heard on Academic environments, and it refers to the moment your application (like publishing a paper) is instantly rejected upon being received for not having the minimum requirements.

    Translating this to the workplace universe, what you can do is to set a minimum threshold of certain qualities you want your candidates to have (like, years of experience, etc.) and instantly reject those that fall below that threshold.

    This will spare you from having many unnecessary interviews with sub-optimal candidates, making the process swifter and more effective.

  2. Basic testing: As The Snark Knight suggested, after obtaining your reduced candidate pool you can then proceed to pass them standard or basic tests on the subjects of interest (typing speed, data entry, phone test, etc.).

    You can then apply additional thresholds or filters to further reduce your candidate pool, so you can finally proceed to physical interviews or whatever the final steps of recruiting are on your company.

  • 1. But if they are entry level, this becomes difficult, as there are few qualifiers. 2. Basic testing in advance would be fine I imagine, but all of the options I've pulled are either very old offerings (look like 90's HR departments), far too expensive (in the thousands of dollars), or not relevant (e.g. coding tests are easy to find).
    – Gryph
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 19:56
  • @Gryph 1. Well, that is part of the job of hiring people, you have to chose and define such qualifiers in a way that is reasonable and possible to your situation (perhaps a few qualifiers, some that help you reduce all those 50 potential interviews). 2. You can get really creative with tests. It is known that tests aren't the best tool for evaluating candidates, as it will only tell you who is better at pretending to know the questions. However, some brief, uncomplicated testing will help you reach the interview phase faster, where you can get the most relevant insight from your candidates.
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 20:04

One very simple option is: You don't need to screen everyone.

  1. Set some minimum qualifications, such as a certain degree (or number of years in school), minimum grades, spelling errors in resume, etc.. Then just reject people by their application alone (the "desk rejection" mentioned by DarkCygnus).
  2. Then, if enough people remain, call them one by one for a brief phone interview, where you go through the things you deem important (work ethic, basic math skills, whatever).

Then, as soon as you have enough candidates you feel are qualified, you stop calling others, and send an offer to the qualified candidates. If some reject, continue the process.

The thing is: If the risk of hiring the wrong person is low, and if there is no need to find the best candidate, but just someone good enough, it may not be worth your time to screen everyone. It may seem unfair (and on a certain level it is), but if you have so many people to screen, you must make a cut somewhere.

Note that this approach critically depends on a good phone interview - so think about what you want to ask, ideally discuss this with colleagues and have a checklist or similar handy during the interview.

  • This is very rational. I'd like to do a desk reject based on skills such as WPM and then filter based on qualifications (since in this case qualifications are debateably secondary). I'm still hunting for a pre-screening option that makes sense.
    – Gryph
    Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 18:29
  • Not meaning to sound rude, but this is basically what I answered, about not having to screen everyone and then proceed to more detailed/specific interviews.
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 19:02
  • @DarkCygnus: Yes, our answers are similar. The difference is that I pointed out that after the first phase, you can proceed right to a phone interview and final decision, instead of having more tests. Your answer proposes "standard or basic" tests, and OP explained they are having trouble with arranging such tests, thus my idea of just skipping the testing.
    – sleske
    Commented Feb 14, 2018 at 7:48

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