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Core competency testing.

Your employment ad says "Skilled machinist wanted." You get dozens, possibly hundreds of responses. You weed through the resumes and pick those to interview. How in the world do you select the one person who can join your team and be productive in your manufacturing environment?

Not to say that anyone would exaggerate his experiences, but getting a true understanding of someone's skill level is a challenge. We've found that the only way to truly gage knowledge and skills of candidates is to test them.

A core competency test can be very helpful to machine shop management. It is a great way to evaluate skill levels.

What is a core competency test? This is a written and demonstration test designed to objectively evaluate skill levels in many manufacturing areas.

Every person applying for employment has a unique set of skills. A core competency test can highlight these skills.

Now, we know people do not like taking tests. Fear not--this type of test should not be a pass/ fail test. This should be a written test covering a wide range of manufacturing topics.

The first part of the test must be a self-evaluation. The applicant must tell you what machine tools they have set up, operated, and programmed. From this listing, you have a good idea what to expect.

A core competency test should cover many manufacturing areas: shop math (including Pythagorean Theorem and trigonometry), knowledge of different tooling, reading blueprints, geometric tolerancing, turning and milling issues, programming codes, using offsets, and measuring parts.

Multiple choice questions can turn into multiple guesses, so the test questions should force the applicants to express their knowledge and ideas. The applicants must perform the necessary calculations and convey their knowledge in writing.

Often there may be many ways to correctly answer a question. No one is expected to know all of the answers. A core competency test should accurately gage the applicant's skill level so you can understand the tasks they can best perform.

Let's say candidate A completes the self-evaluation portion and says he can set up and operate any type of mill, but has no experience in programming. We would expect the test to reflect this knowledge.

Candidate A should have a good understanding of workholding and tooling issues. Do the results of the core competency test show this?

If a candidate says he can program any machine, but struggles with shop math or program codes, there may be a problem.

In addition to a written test, you may want to conduct a "hands-on" test. Arrange a situation on a machine and ask the candidate to perform a series of set-up or operation skills.

Would you hand over your car keys to a 16-year-old without a test? Wily should you entrust your machine tool ($$$) to just anyone with a fancy resume?

Applicants should not fear these tests. This is a great opportunity to show potential employers you have the necessary skills and confidence to be a productive member of the staff.

In addition to evaluating new hires, how about testing existing staff? Most machine shops have a wide range of employees--from God's-gift-to-machining to wet-behind-the-ears. Some people act like they have all the answers, but how would they perform on a skills test?

Using a core competency test to re-evaluate the machining staff may give you a flesh perspective.

Core competency testing can provide a benchmark, helping both employees and employers to gage potential and then to set realistic expectations.

Core Competency Test

Name --

What types of machines can you operate? List all types --

What types of machines can you set up? List all types --

What types of machines can you program? List all types --

Steve Rose is a professional trainer and president of RTSI, Solon, OH. Rosaleen Rose provides Internet website development. They can be reached by phone, 440.542.3066; e-mail; or on the web at
COPYRIGHT 2004 Nelson Publishing
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Title Annotation:Shop Talk
Author:Rose, Steve
Publication:Tooling & Production
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2004
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Next Article:Advanced cutting tools.

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