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Skills Testing

Skills testing has become increasingly common during the hiring process for design-related positions. Unfortunately, not all skills tests are created equal, and some skills tests are unreasonable and can even deviate into spec work.


In an effort to provide clarity and guidance around skills testing for candidates and employers alike, the RGD's Ethics Committee created Skills Testing Guidelines.


The Guidelines outline the key components of a fair skills test; provide candidates and employers with straight-forward do's and don'ts; give a simple checklist to determine if an existing skills test is fair; and list examples of skills tests that meet the Guidelines' criteria.

Skills Testing Guidelines Summary:

  • Know when to test: determine whether a skills test is necessary
  • Know what you are testing for: have a clear idea of what insights you hope to gain from a skills test
  • Set expectations: tell candidates as early as possible that you intend to administer a skills test and what you’re hoping to get out of it
  • Value everyone’s time: keep skills tests short and administer them to no more than 2–3 candidates
  • Don’t give homework: schedule a dedicated start and end time with the candidate to complete the skills test
  • Don’t ask for spec (free) work*: don’t deter top talent from applying by asking them to complete free or speculative work

*See RGD’s Spec Work Guidelines

Click here to download the Skills Testing Guidelines.


Document design and copy: Evelyn Csiszar RGD