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Screening Prepress Applicants for Software Know-How

Press release from the issuing company

September 2007 -- One of the greatest challenges facing Semper International-a leading placement firm in the graphic arts and printing industry-was keeping their screening tests for prepress and graphics production applicants up to date with the newest versions of all the software. "It got to the point we just could not handle it internally and were forced to search for other options," says Brian Regan, president of the firm. "Another issue was to ensure that testing was administered and graded the exact same way for every applicant across our 10 national offices."
That's when Semper learned about a testing tool from Prepress Training Solution. "We have always kept a keen eye on ways to use technology to enhance our ability to recruit and prescreen candidates," reports Regan. Now that 300 prepress candidates have been successfully screened using more than 1,000 of these assessments, Prepress Training Solution's Knowledge Assessment Package, or KAP, has become an integral part of Semper's screening process.
"At Semper we require every flex employee we place in the field to have passed the appropriate skill test for the position we place them into," says Regan. "We use KAP for a large majority of our prepress people. Each prepress applicant must come to a Semper office and be tested prior to interviewing with a Semper recruiter. If the applicant does not pass the test with at least a score of 70% we will not use them in the field. There are cases when we will use the test score, interviewer's comments and references combined to override a test score below our minimum requirement."
First developed as a pre-hire evaluation tool, KAP is now a standalone online assessment package that tests and ranks graphics production staff and prepress operators according to their knowledge of prepress applications so managers can effectively 1) create workgroups, 2) reassign production tasks, 3) fill knowledge gaps, 4) develop training plans, and 5) award raises and assign salaries.
Employees take short, interactive online assessments (5-15 minutes in length) by answering questions about software features and performing tasks to demonstrate their knowledge of software processes and procedures. More than 40 assessments can be assigned, including Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, Acrobat, QuarkXPress, FlightCheck, Creo Preps, Dynagram Dynastrip, Enfocus PitStop, Trapping in Desktop Applications, ICC Profiling, and Mac OSX.
Through KAP, managers create a report that ranks, by software application, the test scores for each user. Since employees with solid software skills work faster than those without, KAP identifies the applications where each person is strong or weak so knowledge gaps can be filled and production tasks appropriately assigned.
Semper reports that applicants are often challenged by the assessments and ask to take tests over. "We require them to reschedule with us for a different day." They also ask about training options available. "Many candidates do take multiple tests so that they are eligible for more types of assignments," adds Regan.
When it comes to evaluating a company's core prepress staff, Regan believes that "it's key that there be an investment in understanding strengths and weaknesses and giving the option for continued career learning and growth. Good employees are very valuable. In staffing, for example, they make or break a company. Most people want to know where they stand in their skills and be given an opportunity to expand their skill sets, and quite often, expand into new areas."
For Semper, "Being able to identify the skill level of a person so that our recruiters can make the best assessment of each and every candidate is critical in differentiating Semper from other staffing firms. We pride ourselves on placing the right person at the right job so that our clients can rely on us for critical skill needs," says Regan.
For companies with an established workforce but constantly changing software and workflow, it's equally critical for management to make sure each person is doing the right job based on their skill level. The assessment tool that Semper uses for screening becomes equally valuable for evaluating existing staff and determining where workflows can be improved.
Since KAP is an online product, assessments can be taken from any Mac or PC with an Internet connection, 24/7. Questions have a time limit to deter users from researching answers. The cost is $49 per individual, with volume discounts available.
For more information, visit www.prepresstraining.com or call 800.355.6429. Outside the US, call 812.355.3030.