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9 Pre-Employment Tests to Help You Hire the Perfect Fit

July 27, 2020

pre employment testing

A smart hiring decision can take your company to the next level.

Whether you’re a hiring manager or a recruiter, it’s up to you to ensure companies find candidates that have all of the necessary skills and requirements needed for a specific role. But that’s easier said than done.

In order to be sure you’ve found someone that fits the bill, you may require a little extra verification by means of a pre-employment screening test.

Like an employment background check, pre-employment screens can be seen as a necessary step to take before extending a candidate a job offer. Both can help minimize hiring and time and ensure that a qualified candidate is selected to be a part of your organization.

No matter your role in the hiring process, it’s best that you understand everything there is to know about pre-employment tests, plus the software that makes screening candidates easy.

Types of pre-employment tests

There are many types of pre-employment tests that your company can choose from. Which one you decide to go with will depend on your company, the type of candidate you’re looking for, and the open job role you’re trying to fill.

Personality tests

Personality testing helps HR professionals, hiring managers, and recruiters understand if a candidate will be comfortable in a specific role and what types of behavioral traits they have.

Unlike other types of pre-employment assessments, there are no right or wrong answers. The test results of a personality assessment evaluate candidates on their engagement level and whether they’d be a good fit, long term, for the position.

The five types of personality tests include:

  • Myers-Briggs
  • Enneagram
  • DiSC Behavioral Inventory
  • Caliper Profile
  • SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire

80%

of Fortune 500 companies use pre-employment testing.

Source: Assessment Training

Aptitude tests

A pre-employment aptitude test, otherwise known as general intelligence tests, will measure criteria like critical thinking, attention to detail, and the ability to process, analyze, and use new data and information. This type of test is usually deemed necessary because it’s difficult to assess these abilities based on a resume or interview alone.

While they can be used in any context, they’re most common and especially useful for mid- and upper-level job roles. Candidates who do well on pre-employment aptitude tests are more likely to have success in completing training, are better suited to adapt and evolve, as well as learn new skills in a fast-changing work environment.

The most common types of aptitude tests include:

  • Numerical reasoning: Questions based on statistics, figures, and charts.
  • Verbal reasoning: Addresses verbal logic and capacity to understand information from passages of text.
  • Diagrammatic reasoning: Measures logical reasoning under specific time conditions.
  • Situational judgment: Assesses judgment in resolving work-based problems and scenarios.
  • Inductive reasoning: Tests whether candidates can identify logic in patterns instead of words or numbers.

Integrity tests

Integrity tests, sometimes referred to as honesty tests, measure the reliability of the applicant and their tendency to be honest, reliable, and responsible. Questions on integrity tests usually steer towards ethical guidance to prove that you would match the company culture and show you work well with coworkers.

This type of test can identify behaviors like drug use, violence, theft, and negative attitudes towards colleagues and supervisors. Integrity tests are used in the workforce for all types of job roles but can be especially useful when hiring for positions involving money, personal safety, security, sensitive data, or trade secrets.

Jobs that especially benefit from integrity tests include:

  • Security guards
  • Childcare or daycare providers
  • Home healthcare workers
  • Bank tellers, cashiers, and financial advisors

Skills tests

Skills assessments don’t focus on knowledge or personality traits, but instead measure actual skills, whether they be hard skills or soft skills.

Hard skills

There are many hard skills that you could test a candidate for. Which ones you choose will depend on the type of role or job opportunity. Some may be:

  • Computer programming
  • Copywriting
  • Data analysis
  • SEO marketing
  • Graphic design

As an example, if your company was hiring for an Executive Assistant, you may test candidates on their typing ability, whether it be speed or accuracy. Other skills tests may be presentations, written assignments, or data checking tests.

Soft skills

Examples of soft skills that a candidate could be tested for include:

  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Empathy
  • Problem-solving
  • Leadership
  • Motivation
  • Organization

These are clearly less quantifiable, but are just as important as hard skills that a candidate may possess. Depending on the job, you may require an emphasis on soft skills more than others, specialially in roles that require people management. For example, managers, directors, and executives are all expected to have a grasp on soft skills to lead their teams to success.

Emotional intelligence tests

Emotional intelligence (EI) is when an individual can understand their own emotions and the emotions of other people. It also refers to how well someone can build relationships. These tests can be important for roles that require frequent interpersonal relationships and leadership building.

EI tests usually specialize in teamwork, adaptability, and empathy. These are crucial no matter the industry or workplace setting, as they can increase collaboration between employees and install a happier workplace environment for everyone.

87%

of employers believe that some candidates misrepresent themselves on job applications and/or resumes.

Source: HireRight

Job knowledge tests

This type of pre-employment assessment will measure a candidate's technical or theoretical expertise in a particular field. A job knowledge test is most useful for a role that requires specialized knowledge or an especially high level of expertise.

The downside of these tests is they don’t account for or consider an applicant’s ability to learn. They could have limited knowledge of the job or role going into it but could be a fast learner and pick up skills quickly. It also doesn’t consider the gap between knowing something in theory and applying it in practice.

Cognitive ability tests

Cognitive ability tests measure intelligence. The most common types are IQ tests with others that can also gauge verbal ability, math skills, deductive reasoning, and spatial perception.

One of the most common cognitive ability tests is the General Aptitude Test (GAT), which specialized in a candidate’s ability to use logical, verbal, and numeric reasoning when approaching various tasks.

91%

of hiring professionals are confident that cognitive ability tests predict job success.

Source: Criteria

Physical ability tests

A physical ability test will measure strength, endurance, stamina, and muscular movement. These tests are common for roles that require physical work, like a firefighter, truck driver, or police officer. This additional step in the hiring process can also reduce the chances of workplace accidents or injuries.

Physical tests can include:

  • Balance test: Tasks that evaluate which stability of body position is difficult for a candidate to maintain.
  • Flexibility test: Tasks that include bending or stretching of the body.
  • Cardiovascular endurance test: Tasks that assess aerobic activity.
  • Muscular tension test: Tasks that involve pushing, lifting, or pulling.

If administering a physical ability test, you must determine a standard that doesn't discriminate against certain groups or a particular gender.

Note: Physical ability tests are not the same as a medical examination, which are typically not part of a hiring process because of potential challenges related to privacy invasion and discrimination.

Drug tests

There are various types of drug tests that your company may require to screen for before offering a candidate a job. These tests can determine whether the candidate has used certain chemicals any time in recent weeks or months. Common types of drug tests include urine tests, hair-drug tests, alcohol testing, saliva drug screen, and a sweat drug screen.

Employers can choose to screen prospective or current employees for drug usage, but keep in mind that drug testing laws vary by state and can decide when and how screenings are conducted.

Is pre employment testing legal?

The short answer: yes, pre-employment is legal. As long as the tests are professionally-developed and administered according to the test’s intended use.

This means that the test must be used to evaluate the potential employee’s knowledge on topics that are directly related to the job. As an example, it would be legal to give a job candidate for an accounting role a math test. However, it could be viewed as discriminatory to give a candidate applying to be a housekeeper the same math test. This is because the math skills needed to be an accountant are very different from those needed to be a housekeeper.

So when you ask this question, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not about whether the test is legal, it’s about the application of the test that could be deemed illegal.

Note: One exception to this is related to lie detector tests, which are illegal in most circumstances, both before and during employment, thanks to the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1998.

Advantages of pre-employment testing

There are some clear reasons why your company may want to consider adding pre-employment screenings to the interview process before accepting a candidate.

  • Saves time: Not only do pre-employment assessments streamline the recruitment and hiring process, but it also means that valuable time is spent interviewing relevant candidates.
  • High-quality candidates that better fit the role: Screening applicants means that your company can hire candidates better suited for both the job and the organization.
  • Avoid bad hires: When you’re able to accurately judge the candidate’s skill level using scientifically designed questions, you can minimize the likelihood of making a “bad hire”, which can cost your company thousands down the line.
  • Remove hiring biases and warrant diversity: Whether we want to admit it or not, unconscious bias is an issue in recruitment. Pre-employment tests can eliminate this bias by narrowing down job candidates based on relevant factors, skills, and personality traits, rather than their background, age, sex, or race since they’re the same for everyone.
  • Leverage data and analytics in the hiring process: This actionable and valuable analysis of candidates can help your company decide who is the best match for the job description.
  • Decrease employee turnover: Employee turnover can be costly for many companies, and the best way to decrease is to hire candidates that truly match the roles of the job and the needs of the company.

When talking about the benefits of pre-employment testing, we asked G2's very own Colin Madigan. Here's what he had to say.

Studies have shown assessments are one of the strongest indicators of future success, and it establishes an objective part of the process."

Colin Madigan
Corporate Recruiter at G2

He continued, "It’s important that it is just one part of a candidate’s consideration. It’s also incredibly useful for high applicant or true entry-level roles where an additional filter is necessary.”

Disadvantages of pre-employment testing

There are some potential drawbacks that come with pre-employment testing that you should know about before the implementation process.

  • Missing the whole picture: While each test will measure a handful of traits, they can also miss important details. For instance, just because a candidate answers that they’ve never used a specific software, doesn’t mean they’re not a fast learner and won’t be able to pick it up quickly. A test alone won’t tell you everything you need to know about a candidate.
  • Potential for lying: While some tests, like drug or physical ability tests, make it almost impossible for a candidate to lie, others may invite it. It’s not uncommon for a candidate to fake their answers on integrity or work ethics tests to seem like a better fit for the role or to present themselves in the best possible light.
  • Deter certain candidates: You may find that certain applicants are put off by having to complete a pre-employment screening, especially if it’s a higher-level role or a highly desired candidate.
  • Risk of discrimination: Even though these tests are designed to be objective, certain screenings, like cognitive ability, personality, and physical ability tests have the potential to break anti-discrimination laws. For example, in 2006, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), won a lawsuit against a company that screened out female applicants through a ‘strength’ test.

We asked some HR professionals in the field about what they thought about pre-employment testing and some of their potential disadvantages. Senior People Manager at Uptake, Tyler Qahhaar, shared his thoughts.

Pre-employment testing can sometimes lead to a disparate impact against already disadvantaged groups of people, like women and minorities."

Tyler Qahhaar
Senior People Manager at Uptake

He continued, "Plus, if you’re using the same benchmark for what a 'passing' mark is, then you’re likely losing out on the opportunity to hire for diversity of thought, which can be just as powerful as diversity of race, ethnicity, and age that we typically use to measure how diverse and inclusive a company is. We have the opportunity to be creative in evaluating someone’s fit into each of our organizations. Let’s not rely on a standardized test alone to predict future success.”

Pre-employment testing software

Pre-employment testing software is used to objectively evaluate candidates to assist companies and HR departments when making hiring decisions. They can test candidates for personality, aptitude, and skills. This software also can offer soft skill assessments, like communication, organization, and problem-solving.

Tests can also be specific to the type of role the applicant is applying for, like sales managers, technical writers, and accountants.

* Below are the top five leading pre-employment testing software solutions from G2’s Summer 2020 Grid® Report. Some reviews may be edited for clarity.

1. The Predictive Index

Companies who use The Predictive Index can easily align their talent strategy with their business strategy, all while achieving optimal results. No matter the industry, businesses are able to better understand what drives their employees while also ensuring that candidates will be a good fit for the job, allowing them to better predict on-the-job success.

What users like:

“Discovering information about new hires is thrilling, and The Predictive Index assists in formulating concerns for the questionnaire in accordance with the particular job required. It offers a great resource to help our employees to organize, to prepare our supervisors, to improve efficiency and performance, and to recruit new staff. The Predictive Index helps to connect agencies and people to ensure the establishment of effective alliances. It is great for the recruiting, leadership of staff, talent management, evaluations, training.”

- The Predictive Index Review, Taylah B.

What users dislike:

“The Predictive Index is so robust and could be difficult for one to learn to the level of being a PI Master without regular practice, however, the training received from PI was outstanding. The follow-up from PI staff post-training was just what we needed to firm up the process for us and get the ball rolling.”

- The Predictive Index Review, Jena G.

2. WonScore from Wonderlic

WonScore from Wonderlic is a more efficient way to screen candidates effectively, easily, and correctly. The WonScore assessment analyzes three crucial components of a candidate: cognitive ability, personality, and motivation. Using this data, this software solution can ensure that you as the employer are hiring the very most qualified person for your position and your team.

What users like:

“A simple implementation allowed us to quickly add in the WonScore assessment to our applicant process after our initial resume selection and phone interviews had been completed. Along with a practical skills test we administer, the WonScore has helped us reduce turnover by 50% in our administrative professional ranks.”

- WonScore from Wonderlic Review, Steven D.

What users dislike:

“Like any pre-assessment system, matching/mapping our internal job description to the appropriate assessments can sometimes be difficult. No two companies have the exact same job descriptions and no software could ever accurately assess every nuance - that is understandable. I will say, the Wonderlic support team has always been extremely helpful to assist when we have difficulty finding a good match.”

- WonScore from Wonderlic Review, Andy M.

3. Indeed Assessments

Indeed Assessments make it possible for companies to find the right talent by evaluating on-the-job skills that matter most to your organization. With over 50 tests designed by experts, you’ll be able to screen candidates for their aptitude, cognitive abilities, and specific skills that fit your hiring needs.

What users like:

“We hire about 10 people every quarter and using indeed assessments is great whenever we need someone in our administration. We can send assessments on customer service, time management, and other relevant situations. It’s great that the assessment gets sent directly to the candidate, and we don’t have to do anything additional.”

- Indeed Assessments Review, Jules M.

What users dislike:

“I really wish I could just create my own assessment! And sometimes I have, if the assessment doesn't include what I like, I will just create a Google Form with inspiration from Indeed. I do also wish they would make assessments that combine things. Not just directed at one skill.”

- Indeed Assessments Review, Jillian G.

4. Berke

Berke is a hiring and employee assessment tool that uses data-driven insights to predict hiring success. The customizable assessment measures personality traits and problem-solving skills while helping companies identify the best candidate for the job and culture.

What users like:

“The assessments let us skip way ahead in the interview process. For us, it's the equivalent of two to three interviews that we accomplish by sending an email. My process now involves a phone-screen that leads into the assessment, followed by an on-site job shadow, followed by an offer. We're doing much more in the interview process because we can trust that Berke is discovering traits that we might not have discovered through our own interviews. Our turnover went from the high 20% range to about 10%, and we're enjoying the quality of our new hires.”

- Berke Review, Nate S.

What users dislike:

“The test itself, when taken seriously, can be a bit mentally draining. I took it and scored relatively high on it (94-98 percentile) on our different assessments and it made us wonder if we were being correct in the type of individual for the role and that we perhaps needed to reevaluate the role and type of person for it.

That's the one part I would have liked a bit more assistance from the Berke team on ensuring that we were thinking of the position thoroughly. Another issue that I encountered for individuals is that if they were distracted, taking this test at home with possible distractions that would not score well.”

- Berke Review, Tanya T.

5. eSkill

eSkill provides employment tests, behavioral assessments, and video interviewing tools that help organizations hire and retain top candidates. With the extensive Test Library, users can access the eSkill Author to create customized employment tests and on-the-job simulations as a way to identify top candidates and eliminate unqualified applications.

What users like:

“eSkill was essential to finding an ideal Scheduling Specialist. I was able to tailor a test that allowed us to see the execution of different skills that were needed in the financial service industry: following directions, customer service, data checking, and more. Based on my percentage standards, I was able to narrow our candidates significantly with eSkill.”

- eSkill Review, Christina R.

What users dislike:

“Some of the pre-made tests do not really match the skills that we need for our positions with the same job’s title.”

- eSkill Review, Meg R.

Testing, testing, 1-2-3

When your company uses a well-designed pre-employment test, you’ll be able to add objectivity to the interviewing process that results in better hiring decisions. Just remember to keep an open mind and to use the results as guidance. No test should be the ultimate decision-making factor for who your company should hire, but merely steer you in the right direction of who would be the best fit.

Once a candidate is offered the job, find out some must-know tips about employee onboarding and how to prepare for a new member of your team.

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