LinkedIn recently released a new feature, Skills Assessment, that many thought might deliver more transparency to skills listed on users’ profiles. But Tigran Sloyan, chief executive officer of CodeSignal, who has been working in the skills verification industry for years, said he’s personally taken the tests and warns that this feature should not be relied upon when hiring.
The multiple-choice tests that users must take to verify their skills on LinkedIn are said to be designed to determine if they’re experts in the field they’re testing for. And yet, Sloyan, who has minimal skills in coding, indicated he was able to easily pass tests of various coding languages, as well as other fields of knowledge (like QuickBooks) in which he has absolutely no experience.
The tests are extremely flawed, he said, and in time, they might become meaningless. He compared them to LinkedIn Skills Endorsements, which he explained is just a way for friends to endorse skills, making it very hard to determine the true validity of the endorsement.
“All of the tests are multiple-choice, which is one of the key issues with the assessments. Even if I’m not Googling the answers, just knowing answers to multiple-choice questions is not an accurate reflection of someone’s skill,” said Sloyan in an interview with ITbusiness.ca. “Think of it as a driving test. Why is there a written portion that tests your theoretical knowledge as well as an actual test where you have to show that you can drive the thing? Knowing that in theory, and being able to do it in practice, are very different things.”
Sloyan noted LinkedIn’s attempts to bring verification to skills on its platform are admirable. He said he still believes there is great potential in the feature if properly executed.
“The goal is here is not to bash LinkedIn products. I’m actually really excited that LinkedIn is getting into assessments,” he said. “Right now, recruiting and education live in their silos where people learn things that are not necessarily important for getting a job. And then companies recruit based on pedigree and not actual learned skills. If you don’t have a fancy looking resume, no one will pay attention to your actual abilities. Assessment is one of the cornerstones of fixing the whole education/recruitment silos that exist currently.”
When asked what could be improved to bring some legitimacy to the feature, Sloyan said that some major changes would be required, although eliminating the multiple-choice aspect would be a good first step.
“My main suggestion would be to move away from multiple-choice questions and develop technology that ensures the actual demonstration of the skills. If you’re looking to get someone to measure their coding ability, have them write some code,” he said. “That’s not rocket science to build that. LinkedIn is a massive organization backed by Microsoft; they should be able to do that. But the whole premise that you can measure someone’s ability by just asking them multiple-choice questions is bogus.”