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How do we test a graphic design candidate’s skills?

We're thinking of hiring a graphic artist mostly to do text edits and pre-production work -- very little design. I want to test candidates' knowledge of print, software skills and especially, attention to detail. Are there any tests you could recommend?

C. W.

There are a few companies that offer both training and testing for individual graphics programs. Prepress Training Solutions ( is one that actually offers classes and training online (disclosure: I have written some of their courses). Ledet ( and the American Graphics Institute ( are among those that offer onsite training. Many vendors offer both online and onsite training and seminars.

But more to the point, also offers online Pre-hire tests: Employers can administer these tests to prospective hires for a small fee.

Here's how it works. Prepress Training offers many courses: all of them specifically related to graphics production. The classes cost $149 each, but you can access the entire course library for a full year for $300. Each course has a "Pre-test" and a "Post-test" so you can evaluate where each employee stands, both before and after training. One nice thing about this is that you can continually monitor the capabilities of each employee in relation to each other as well as the level of proficiency each individual employee has attained.

The Pre-hire tests are the same as the "Pre-tests" used in the training program, but you can assign them to people who are not already enrolled in the training. Because it is the same test used in the training program, you can compare the scores of potential hires to your current staff. Since individual company needs are so diverse, you can assign any of the tests from their library that best suit your needs.

If your candidates have some deficiencies in their knowledge, it can be filled by assigning the online courses once they are hired. Getting a good handle on what your employees know and need to know can be extremely helpful in turning them into productive employees.

Remember too, that hiring should not be done solely on the test results. Being a quick learner and a team player can be a lot more important than having knowledge of a specific area.

Stephen Beals is a digital pre-press manager and has been writing for major print publications for many years. He is the author of A Practical Primer for Painless Print Production. He can be reached at

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