Does Learning How to Take the Test
Matter More Than the Grade?

Employers rank a job candidate’s assessment test results as a better indicator of competency than grade point average (GPA) according to San Diego State University researchers

Researchers at San Diego State University found the signals employers use to determine the employability of recent college graduates don’t necessarily include traditional measures like good references and outstanding grades. In fact, they found that employers who give assessment tests during the interview process ranked the test results as the strongest signal of candidate employability. Their analysis of the quality of social media content posts (aka, “online social footprint”) and interview performance also figure in as significant job competence indicators.

SDSU marketing professors Heather Honea, Paula Peter and Iana Castro found that employers interviewing entry-level candidates relied heavily on the job seeker’s employment tests to evaluate applicants, and also considered their “online social footprint”. They also found that employers were less likely to see grades and professional profiles (Linkedin, resumes) as indicators that entry-level candidates possess their desired skill sets.

The research, entitled “Evidence Items as Signals of Marketing Competencies and Workplace Readiness: A Practitioner Perspective” was published in the December 2017 issue of the Journal of Marketing Education and was named the journal’s “Outstanding Article” for 2017.

“While there is an ongoing debate regarding whether academic curriculum and activities at universities actually prepare students for the job market, ours is the first research that examines what academic activities actually signal competence,” said Honea. “We learned the majority of employers place more value on activities such as case studies and aptitude test results as a valid measure of job skills than overall GPA.”

“In other words,” said Honea, “we found when it comes to completing successful job interviews, performance on tests actually matters.”