Excel Assessment Test Overview
Microsoft Excel is an electronic spreadsheet program, created by Microsoft Corporation over thirty years ago. It enables users to organize, format, and calculate data with formulas using a spreadsheet system broken up by rows and column. Microsoft Excel is also used for storing, organizing and manipulating the data as well as for creating macros, charts, histograms, line graphs and pivot tables with the help of graphing tools . Excel also offers programming that supports VBA, and we can use external database to make dynamic reports, analysis etc. Smart use of this program saves a lot of time and helps in creating our own applications too.
Because spreadsheets are so popular and useful, many companies conduct Excel interview before hiring for job. An Excel Interview Test is a screening process employers use as part of the candidate employment interview to test a potential candidate on their knowledge and proficiency of Microsoft Excel.
The basic Microsoft Excel skills test assesses candidate’s ability to use Microsoft Excel's user interface quickly and efficiently to access the right features and perform simple tasks in the application. It validates fundamental knowledge from determining the best way to open a recently closed Workbook to using the correct formula to perform automatic calculations. Candidates are required to answer true/false, multiple-choice questions and multiple answer questions based on Excel spreadsheets, charts and tables filled with sample data.
Microsoft Excel harbor very basic calculations to very advanced data processing and analysis that requires in-depth knowledge of every tools of Excel. Depending on the position candidate is applying for you are likely to face a pre-employment Excel test with varying level of difficulty. Microsoft Excel Employment Assessment tests can be categorized into at least three levels of difficulty:
- Microsoft Excel Basics Test: The basic test will evaluate your skills performing basic Excel functions. This can include anything from printing, formatting cells, inserting tables, and so on. If you have used Excel in the past or familiar with other similar applications you should be able to refresh your skills with the quick tutorial, practice sample excel interview questions to pass assessment test. Basic Excel Test for Interview Candidates is a screening process for entry-level or experienced candidates, including administrative assistants, retail store managers, Sales Representatives, Marketing Representatives, Accountants, Entry level Analysts, or any other position that requires using Microsoft Excel.
- Intermediate Microsoft Excel test: This test requires more than basic knowledge but is not as complex as the advanced level test. The intermediate Microsoft Excel skills test presents candidates with a series of timed questions designed to assess their knowledge of Microsoft Excel. For passing this test, you will need to study and practice in advance using different tools and resources and ideally have practical experience of solving problems with Microsoft Excel. The Intermediate Excel Test is typically offered to evaluate skills of Business Analysts, Project Managers, Architects and other professionals, that may be responsible for complex decision making.
- Advanced Microsoft Excel test: This test is designed for job that require to use Excel in a more complex manner. The test will evaluate your skills with pivot tables, creating macros, filtering, and functions such as IF, IFS, VLOOKUP, SUMIFS, VBA and other advanced concepts used in Microsoft Excel. An advanced Excel user would need to have advanced formula skills. He would have a skill and confidence to make his own formula to adapt to any situation. Typically, this test is offered to Senior Professionals, Executives, Financial Analysts, Scientists and other professionals that may need to use advanced features of Microsoft Excel.
Candidates are typically tested for certain skills and knowledge they need to possess in Microsoft Excel:
- Ability to edit Excel worksheets and workbook by identifying common functions, applying basic keyboard shortcuts, and manipulating columns and rows
- Ability to apply sorting and filtering options as well as statistical functions to explore and summarize values
- Ability to customize the look and feel of an Excel workbook using cell formatting tools to make the important interpretations stand out
Below is the list of competencies candidates are tested for:
- Follow the correct steps to apply formatting and create impressive, visually appealing spreadsheets through the use of formatting,
- Apply styles, use simple fill patterns and apply formatting,
- Identify the proper keyboard shortcuts to accomplish tasks more quickly,
- Choose the right formula and cell references to automatically calculate values,
- Perform basic tasks like hiding rows, preventing cell overflow, and pasting data.
Since each question comes with a strict time limit (one minute or less), the test will also measure a candidate’s ability to quickly format, isolate and manipulate data under a significant amount of pressure without any outside help.
What is the Typical Format and types of questions asked on Excel Assessment Test?
Each employer might use a slightly different variation of the test. The Excel exam will be broken down into a multiple-choice section and an interactive portion. Some tests are timed but some of them do not have a limit on how long applicant can take to answer the questions, but there might be exceptions. There are different types of questions typically being presented during the test like Multiple Choice Questions, Multiple Answer Questions, True/False Questions and Interactive Questions. It is rare that only one type of question is used during the test – most of the time questions are part of the large pool and testing software randomly selects certain number of questions from the pool and presents them to the candidate. Let’s look at the details of each type.
In this test format applicants are being presented with the question that has multiple options but only one possible answer. Applicants are typically being asked to select one choice as the answer for the questions. These types of questions are typically used to test Beginner or Intermediate skills on Excel Assessment test. Figure 1 shows an example of multiple choice excel assessment test question:
(Sample multiple choice question as part of Excel Assessment Test)
In this test format applicants are being presented with the question, which has multiple potential answers. Applicants are typically being asked to select all answers that are applicable. These types of questions are typically used to test Intermediate or Advanced skills on Excel Assessment test (See below image). The multiple-choice questions are typically pulled at random from a larger pool of questions. This means that you will likely not be asked the same questions as someone else you know who took the exact same exam.
(Sample Multiple Answer Excel Assessment Test Question)
In this format applicants are being presented with a statement that is either true of false. The key to answering these questions correctly is in reading the questions in detail and determining which answer is correct and which one isn’t.
(Sample True/False Question asked as part of Excel Assessment Test)
Interactive test question typically asks candidates to complete specific task or scenario using Excel Simulator, presented at the bottom. Simulator is different from the regular Excel software, since it has internal help disabled. Sometimes the entire test might be done using interactive questions, but most of the times Interactive question type is just one of the types of questions used during the test.
Below is the example of Excel Interactive Simulator question, candidates might be asked to complete.
(Sample Interactive Simulator asked as part of Excel Assessment Test)
Sometimes interviewers prefer the test to be interactive with the candidate rather than judging by some static questions. Since the main objective of Excel test is to determine whether a candidate can perform Excel function, specific to what employer needs to do, some companies ask Ad-Hoc questions during the interview to test the candidate and evaluate his skills. In this approach potential candidates are not being asked to take any computerized tests, but rather are being asked open-ended questions during the interview. Typically, interviewer ask questions from memory, but a lot of times they might also prepare questions in advance, based on functional or technical areas they would like to test the candidate.
Three major categories of questions might be asked in Ad-Hoc approach:
- Which function would you use to add all the values in the column?
- How can you import data from the database into Excel?
- What are Excel Formulas used for?
- What is your experience managing prices in Excel?
- What is your experience doing forecasting in Excel?
- What is your experience planning a budget in Excel?
- Can you access the values from another worksheet in the same workbook using the formula?
- How can you project Excel data from modification?
- How can you protect Excel with the password?
- What is the difference between absolute and relative cell references? In which situations would you use each?
Tips and Tricks to Get Prepared and Pass Excel Assessment Test
- If you can navigate between questions go through the entire test and do the easiest, shortest questions first. Save the more difficult questions to come back to later; perhaps another part of the test will help you out with that question or trigger knowledge that you didn’t think you had and you already answered the questions you know the answers for.
- Keep a positive attitude throughout the test and stay relaxed. People who are positive and relaxed do better on tests than those who are negative and stressed out.
- Consider using flashcards to help you study. You can purchase blank flashcards or create them yourself from paper and put your questions and answers. Create flashcards for the questions you have missed in the past, so you can refresh the knowledge.
- Understand how much time you have to complete the test by dividing number of question in the test to the allotted time to determine time per question average you should use. Use this calculated average as a baseline and try to limit the time you spend on each question.
- Always watch for time remaining and be prepared to submit test results, before time expires.
- Even if you have no idea about the answer you still should try to guess and answer the question, since your guess might be correct
Below is the list of resources you could use to get prepared for the Excel Interview:
All the best on your interview!!!