ZDnet's Deb Perelman asks if it's a good idea to ask IT job candidates to prove they've got the technical chops to do the job they're after. You bet your server farm it is.

Perelman says, "...increasingly, IT professionals are asked to take some sort of test when they go for a job interview, to prove they know the technology that’s on their resume. This is the subject of a long–and heated–discussion on Slashdot this week, wherein an IT job candidate says that even with more than one university degree, a couple of IT certifications, over ten years work experience in the industry with two to four years with each employer, working with a wide range of technologies, he’s not sure he finds it “reasonable” to take a test on a job interview."

While the comments on the original Slashdot article are a mixed bag, as of this writing all the commenters on Perelman's blog post fully support testing tech workers before turning them loose at work. Reasons range from those who say there are "too many liars in the market" to those to welcome the opportunity to showcase their talents in ways a simple resume doesn't.

I can't think of a valid reason to not request a skills test for job candidates. While IT managers and employees have always been an important part of companies with technical infrastructure, their roles are critical today. Ten years ago, businesses needed people to keep in-house computers running smoothly and troubleshoot issues with the PBX. Now, even the smallest companies rely on VoIP, cloud computing, and networks so you want employees with skills that match your needs

Of course, that's not meant to suggest that IT workers of days gone by had it easy -- remember punch card data processing? I simply mean that when Microsoft Office crashes, it's a real inconvenience. When an entire network goes down, it's a disaster.The time to make sure your new hire can manage mission critical infrastructure is before they come on board, not when Something Goes Wrong.

i believe it is very important to prove thyself. there are people out there teaching just the certification and not doing any hands on so in all things not actually learning the the real material. its like they are just taking a test which doesnt account for nothing in the real world when asked to fix a actual problem. they only way to get around that is by making sure the instructors are not wishy washy with the certification. i know there are lots of people out there just doing the test and reading the book and not actually getting themselves into the career which puts bad names on other it's that really do know there stuff so in my opinion YES PROVE THYSELF anyone can say they know it but if your able to prove it then good and if you do know your stuff then what problem is it to prove that you know it you should be happy you are one of the people that do know your ways around a computer and not just half ass doing the work. you should love proving that you know it if you know your stuff and laugh at the people that half assed it this should have been written a long time ago but THIS IS TRUE.

The problem with the vast majority of those "tests" is that they're useless. They don't test how a person acts under normal working conditions.
They often don't test his actual skills at all.

I've had several over the years, all were utterly useless.

And where it is useful, what the "test" comes down to is that the candidate is asked to work for the company for free for a while to "prove himself", doing the actual job he'd do if hired without compensation.
Many unscrupulous companies would see such a process as a cheap way to get short term projects done. Just get candidates for non-existent positions, let each work on the "project team" for a few days, and tell them they "don't fit in the team" at the end of the period.

A good interviewer can tell whether the skills a person claims to have are there or not without subjecting the candidate to the added stress of some sort of exam during an already stressful period.
And remember that job interview ARE stressful for the candidate. You can't expect him to work at his normal skill level during such a process, too much depends on it for him.
A test is just a poor substitute for a decent technical interview in order to get away with HR hiring people without interference from those troublesome technical people who always want someone different from the candidates HR favours.

And of course those "tests" will soon end up on the 'net, available for the homework kiddos to cram just as they cram for certification exams. So after a short while your vaunted "test" will be passed with flying colours by the very people you don't want while the people you do want but are so nervous their brains melt fail the test despite being quite capable of doing the actual work.