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Why Reading Comprehension Skills in Applicants Are Important

03/13/2024
reading comprehension skills, job reading comprehension

No matter the industry and position, whether in customer service or upper management, improving reading comprehension skills is among the most crucial competencies when screening applicants.   This qualification is effective for communication and directly impacts how an individual performs in their role.

Reading comprehension doesn’t stop at following instructions given by a manager—it’s also how an employee interprets policies, deciphers what a client needs, and analyzes complex documents.

Most jobs go hand-in-hand with reading comprehension test strategies. So along with other pre-employment tests, it’s best that you assess this specific ability to make informed decisions about the candidate you’re about to bring on board. 

Why is giving a comprehension test for a job interview so critical? Here are a few reasons why a reading comprehension test is a “must-do” for any company wanting to make strategic employee selections.

Why Reading Comprehension Skills Are Important

There are several benefits that reading comprehension gives, which include:

1. Identifying errors

To err is human, but reading comprehension allows you to identify and correct these mistakes. Errors in company reports, contracts, or emails can turn into significant problems. For instance, typos in a presentation can look amateurish and unprofessional to clients.

There’s also the risk of financial professionals causing costly mishaps due to the incorrect placement of a comma or decimal point. If you think such an error could be minor, there are several cases where a missing punctuation mark led companies to lose millions.

2. Accurately analyzing and interpreting information

Workflows for many industries are fast-moving, which means that information is constantly thrown at everyone like confetti. However, those with strong reading comprehension skills can swiftly navigate through the noise, extract relevant details, and understand the nuances of intricate data. 

This skill is beneficial for positions dealing with market trends, conducting competitor analysis, or deciphering complex project specifications. You can trust candidates with company-sensitive information if they can show this ability and have the right experience.

3. Ensuring compliance

Legal regulations are a minefield that could result in dangerous consequences. 

For instance, without competent reading comprehension skills, healthcare professionals could misinterpret instructions and give a patient the wrong medication. A construction worker could misread the safety standards given to them and miss a crucial step, leading to delays or even injury.

Giving applicants a reading comprehension test for their job interview allows you to identify candidates who can help keep your company compliant and safe from legal hazards.

4. Enhancing decision-making

Your company needs well-thought-out strategies to stay ahead, whether that’s entering a new market or launching new products. However, these business tactics come with risks. 

Employees with solid reading comprehension skills can significantly contribute to evaluating the pros and cons of each plan by efficiently processing the information provided to them.

One of the jobs that greatly benefit from excellent comprehension skills is marketing. Teams analyzing trends through reports and customer feedback can successfully craft calculated strategies to outperform competitors.

5. Facilitating effective communication

Clear communication holds a company together. Employees with solid reading comprehension skills understand information and clearly articulate it to others. If everyone is on the same page, they can prevent misunderstandings.

Have you ever emailed a team telling them the complete details of a meeting, only for some to respond by asking for the time, date, or agenda? If this scenario sounds familiar, you know how frustrating it is to point out what you already specified in the email.

Team members who can comprehend what they read save you time from repeating information.

How to Assess Reading Comprehension Skills in Applicants

You have to use different tests to find the perfect addition to your team. For reading comprehension, here are some reading comprehension test tips on how to carry out your assessments and reduce the time for hiring:

1. Determine the appropriate assessment type

Not all positions require the same level of reading comprehension. If you’re looking for applicants for customer service, for instance, you don’t need to check if they can understand legal jargon. 

Review different options for reading comprehension test for employment and select ones that align with the specific demands of the job. Entry-level positions likely only need basic reading tests for employment, while others may need industrial or higher-level versions.

2. Conduct written tests

One of the most direct ways to evaluate reading comprehension is through written tests that include sections from the actual job. These can include passages specific scenarios the candidate may encounter in the role, followed by questions relating to what they read.

You can also couple it with an attention-to-detail test to see if applicants can follow instructions and double-check their work. 

3. Have structured interview questions

Behavioral interviews are a sensible measure for understanding how candidates approach and solve problems, which can help predict their future behavior.

Integrate reading-based scenarios by presenting a situation and then asking the applicant to walk you through their understanding, interpretation, and potential actions.

You may specifically ask whether they have any experience where a document or rule challenged their reading comprehension. Include questions about how they overcame this hurdle and what their process was.

4. Ask candidates to make connections

Ask applicants to create connections between the provided passages and their experiences or real-world situations. 

For instance, you can provide a document with sets of scenarios about certain workplace incidents, such as disagreements between team members or challenges in learning protocols. 

Ask if they have experienced anything like the scenarios provided and what actions they took. If they never encountered a similar situation, ask what they would do instead. Successfully making these connections shows their ability to effectively absorb and comprehend the material. 

5. Ask for their thought process

Asking candidates how they understand the text isn’t just a way for you to better comprehend their thought process, but these questions also allow you to see how they can scan the contents of a piece, take notes, and adapt to potentially more complicated passages.

After all, you’re not just looking for someone who can read and parrot information back; you want an employee who can also take initiative and solve problems.

Don’t Let Talent Slip Through

While reading comprehension skills are easy to take for granted, proficient candidates will give your company an edge. From carefully understanding industry regulations to making strategic decisions, interpreting content allows everyone to thrive in the workplace. 

Finding those who can genuinely comprehend what they read and take the necessary actions from it isn’t far-fetched. However, without apt testing and the right interview questions, some talents may slip through the cracks. 

That’s why reading comprehension assessments can be your best ally—they make screening more manageable and give you a better overview of who you should hire. This skill is an essential criterion when you make hiring decisions, so make sure to be thorough when checking the results.

Ready to bring the right employees into your workforce? Take a free pre-employment reading comprehension test sample to see how you can easily integrate them into your company’s hiring process.