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We're trying to screen applications for a job based on their basic computer skills.

We'd like some sort of website that we can give to the candidates that times how long it takes them to click on buttons, use drop-downs and enter text, and records how fast they were. Nothing amazing or strenuous, but enough to show us that they can use a mouse and keyboard with reasonable skill.

Does anyone know of anything similar to what we're after? Alternatively, can anyone recommend a quick way of testing someone's computer skills/aptitude?

EDIT: The job is to control the raising/lowering of a road bridge over the summer months when we've got a lot of boats going in and out of the harbor. The job applicants are mostly retirees. The basic opening/closing process involves some VHF radio communication with the boats, then using a computer-based control system to raise/lower traffic barriers (clicking buttons), sending a text-based message to some traffic boards (basic selecting, typing and clicking buttons), then clicking a series of 4-5 buttons in order as the bridge machinery starts/stops to perform the raising/lowering process.

I guess we're basically trying to determine if these candidates will get flustered by the process. It's not feasible to train all ~20 candidates to find out.

  • Will this be done in-house after candidates have been screened, or will be it something all applicants do? – jmorc Jul 14 '13 at 23:57
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    What types of jobs are you hiring for? The amount of basic computer skills a person needs depends on what they'll be doing. – jmort253 Jul 15 '13 at 1:27
  • @notmyrealname Yup, in-house after initial screening. – wpearse Jul 15 '13 at 3:08
  • @jmort253 I've just updated the question with more detail. I realise now that it was a bit vague! ;) – wpearse Jul 15 '13 at 3:09
  • I suggest having them repeat the process several times to see how quickly they pick it up. – Jeremy Jul 15 '13 at 3:31
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Here's an idea: create a mock application that has the exact same layout as the live system and have them use it for a while.

You can then use the testing environment to see how they work under stressful conditions, or when things don't go correctly, or when multiple people are asking for help.

This should be a version of the training system. It doesn't have to include all the scenarios, but it could test how quickly they learn and adapt. You will have to be able to tell who is likely to climb the learning curve, and who will be overwhelmed by the entire process.

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    This would be possible if the OP was a Applications Developer which hasn't been stated. – Michael Grubey Jul 15 '13 at 8:35
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    Whoever designed the system should be able to supply such a mock up. – Captain Kenpachi Jul 15 '13 at 9:47
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    In that case wouldn't it be best just to use the pre-existing application and disconnect it from the system and run it on a standalone test machine. – Michael Grubey Jul 15 '13 at 9:48
  • Depends on if the app will allow it, but yes, that would be best. – Captain Kenpachi Jul 15 '13 at 9:54
  • Testing someone at the actual task needs more explanation? Seems like a ridgid application of this rule. – user8365 Jul 15 '13 at 19:59
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I'd suggest going out to Google Docs and creating a form that has examples of whatever tasks they'd need to do. You could then either just share the form with the candidates (which would require that they have or create a Google account) or you could just have them use the form while they're onsite using your Google credentials. I'm guessing that having them just use the form while they're onsite would be a better test of the specific skills you're talking about since it's easier than creating a new account.

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Thank you for providing more information because I think you risk losing your best candidates if you put too much emphasis on computer skills.

Seems like people with a track-record of safely working in potentially dangerous environments is more important than being able to click a mouse. This may narrow your list of candidates to the point where making them take such a test under your observations would yield the best results. Yes, some people get nervous testing when someone is watching; you don't want to hire them. Also, beware of someone who is desparate and lets someone else do the online test for them.

Google some of the online tests and have your current people take them and create a baseline of performance. I think the goal is trying to avoid hiring someone who is too reluctant to use a PC. Someone with extremely poor PC skills, could panic. Of course there is some balance, but I'd hire a crane operator before a gamer. Those boats crashing into the bridge are real.

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While I do agree with the mocking approach I doubt an application is worth it.

Instead, figure out all the important elements of the tasks they will have to do and find fairly simple tasks that incorporate the elements.

For example, part of the task could be obtaining information over the radio and putting it into an e-mail and sending it.

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