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Criteria Corp Blog

The Latest in HR Technology and Pre-Employment Testing

Grammar Tests as Hiring Tools

Written by Josh Millet

Today I came across an interesting article on the Harvard Business Review website entitled "I Won't Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here's Why." It's written by the CEO of a small technology company, and describes his practice of using a test of basic grammar (unfortunately he's not using ours) as a means of screening all prospective employees. He makes some great points about the relationship between an individual's grammar and broader characteristics such as attention to detail and learning ability. He writes:

"If it takes someone more than 20 years to notice how to properly use "it's" then that's not a learning curve I'm comfortable with.  So, even in this hyper-competitive market, I will pass on a great programmer who cannot write. Grammar signifies more than just a person's ability to remember high school English. I've found that people who make fewer mistakes on a grammar test also make fewer mistakes when they are doing something completely unrelated to writing — like stocking shelves or labeling parts...I hire people who care about those details. Applicants who don't think writing is important are likely to think lots of other (important) things also aren't important."

I couldn't agree more. Grammar, along with spelling, reading comprehension and vocabulary, is important not just because writing and reading comprehension are important job requirements for so many jobs. It's also important because it's correlated with a wider constellation of abilities and habits such as attention to detail, "trainability", and communication skills that are predictors of performance, turnover, and other important business metrics that employers care about.  Our customers seem to agree: our Criteria Basic Skills Test (CBST), which measures grammar, spelling, math, and reading comprehension, is the single most popular test in our portfolio.

Josh Millet

Written by Josh Millet

Josh Millet is the CEO and co-founder of Criteria Corp, a pre-employment testing platform designed to make predictive, scientifically-validated testing solutions accessible to businesses of all sizes.

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