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Does anyone have recommendations for the best tests to give candidates (Excel/Online S/W)

Tina Duncan's Profile

I am looking for free testing links to test candidates on Excel, Basecamp, Google Docs, and online skills.


Charley Kyd
Title: Founder
Company: ExcelUser
(Founder, ExcelUser) |

If you're looking for spreadsheet users who can hit the ground running...

Give candidates a printed spreadsheet report that's a simplified version of reports like those they'll need to create after they're hired. Make sure that the report does NOT include company-specific measures that few outsiders would recognize.

Also give candidates an Excel workbook with CSV-like data that can be used to generate a similar report.(That is, the dates, text, and values will be in columns. And each column will have a title in row 1.)

Ask the candidates to use the data to generate a similar report that can be updated easily each period. (This should take less than an hour for a fairly simple report.)

After the first report is done, give them data for the following period and ask them to update their report for the new period.

Excellent candidates should be able to generate the updated report in less than a minute...assuming that data for the new period has the same structure as the original data set. These candidates probably will have parked the data in an Excel Table. Their reports probably will rely on worksheet functions like SUMIFS, SUMPRODUCT, or both. And these candidates certainly will have created and used range names.

Using this approach is far more relevant to your company's needs than using a third-party test would be.

Tina Duncan
Title: HR Administrator
Company: Yoga Yoga
(HR Administrator, Yoga Yoga) |

Thx. I have a test for Google Docs that has them design a report, share it and update it as well as for BaseCamp and Excel. Was just hoping there was something out there that would just do it, review it and we could be done with it. (Just for ease).

David Ziska
Title: CEO
Company: Council Business Solutions
(CEO, Council Business Solutions) |

I create a series of exercises that come from tasks that I will expect them to perform on the job. For example, if you have a jobstep that involves using a vlookup function, take that jobstep, sanitize the data, and make it an exercise.

Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |


"Was just hoping there was something out there that would just do it, review it and we could be done with it." It seems to me (and I can be misinterpreting your response) that you are doing the proficiency tests....just because, or just for the sake of doing it.

My point is, are these "skills" really that important for the success of the person doing the job? If so, can they NOT be trained or immediately learned? Are there more important traits, skills or attitudes that the prospective employee has that can contribute to the success of the position/company? If a failure in one (or two, or all) a deal breaker? If NOT, are the tests really necessary? Maybe there is a need to reevaluate the need for such tests?

Note: If I take the excel test, I can almost guarantee that I will fail parts of it. Especially if a certain function (that I have not used before) is involved in a giant worksheet, then I will most certainly fail.

My personal view is NOT to miss the forest for the trees. I question the need and current practices of looking for "ready-made" employees. i.e. The "requirement" (check box) type of hiring.

Just my two cents and obviously a differing perspective. And yes, I usually clash with HR people on this.

Ern Miller
Title: Co-CEO
Company: Miller Small Business Solutions
(Co-CEO, Miller Small Business Solutions) |

As a programmer, and a recovering perfectionist, I would probably build something that works so well you would implement it into the actual work day.

The above scenario, if the original source and the updated source are the same format...everything in the same exact place, I would make the data page a separate document, relocate all references to the figures in the calculations page to point to the new data document. Then, when the new data is introduced, I would just make a copy of the old data file(maybe a new worksheet in the Excel spreadsheet) and copy/paste the new data over the original data.

The whole thing would take 15 minutes, tops. The update would take 45 seconds tops.

But, I would feel I could do it better with an MS Access database and a few hours.

Accounting needs to learn to embrace databases. Spreadsheets, while good to look at for quickly seeing tons of data are fragile, and as they grow, they become more difficult to maintain, and even more difficult to convert over to a database.

You can still put the data from a database into a spreadsheet, but you have so many more options available when you separate the data from the presentation.

Roger Hardie
Title: Financial Controller
Company: Expert Home
LinkedIn Profile
(Financial Controller, Expert Home) |

As a warning, a lot of recruitment agencies have these online tests, that are really bugging. So as a background, I learnt financial modelling in an investment bank 20 years ago, and I have worked some contracts that all I do is produce a financial model for an investment deal - large listed companies. I do poorly on the recruitment agency tests as all the actions have to be mouse generated, whereas I use key board commands, often Sum functions, will not allow you to type in sum( ) you have to choose the E sum function, etc.
So it is best to build something that is a best fits your business, get them to crunch some data with filters, some Vlookups, & Sumifs, look at the end result, not the individual ways, formulas to get to the result.
Often a off the shelf test will give you a false positive.
Other thing you can do (this has been asked of me in high profile interviews) is how would you set up a financial model, how do you data-mine, . Getting someone to verbally outline their methodology is a sure fire way to access how much excel/ modelling experience they have.

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