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4 Best Practices for Pre-Employment Testing

Written by Emily Peirce

Pre-employment testing is one of the best ways to predict future job performance.  Testing offers valuable insight into your candidates’ cognitive aptitude, personality fit, acquired skills, and general job readiness. Its goal is to give you a clearer picture of each applicant to help you make more informed hiring decisions.   Like any tool, though, it pays to know how to use it.  Here are four tips on how to get the most out of pre-employment testing.

 

1.    Choose the Right Tests

This may seem obvious, but choosing the right tests for the right position makes all the difference when assessing your candidates.

In order for pre-employment testing to produce the results you’re looking for (and to remain EEOC compliant), you need to be sure the skills and traits you’re testing for are both job relevant and correlated with success in the role.  For instance, you wouldn’t ask someone applying for a forklift operator position to take a typing test since forklift operators generally aren’t performing any tasks that require that particular skill.  There’s also no correlation between typing ability and success in that role.  As a result, any data these kind of test results would give you would be irrelevant and offer no insight into the candidate’s suitability for the role.  Instead, measuring the applicant’s mechanical aptitude would be a better choice.  By administering tests that measure the traits and skills that ARE correlated with success in a role, you are able to use the results as a predictive hiring metric.

 

2.    Test Early in the Process

We generally recommend putting testing early on in your hiring process for a few reasons.

If you are working with a testing vendor that offers a subscription based pricing model, testing early and often allows you to get the most bang for your buck.  These models generally allow unlimited access to one or more tests for the length of a subscription.  Since you aren’t paying per test, you are free to test all your candidates.  This way, you can receive predictive information on your applicants in the early stages of the hiring process.

Testing early can also help you avoid difficult hiring decisions down the line. For example, if you leave testing to the very end of the process, you may find yourself in a scenario where you’ve narrowed down your candidate pool to your two top picks, and when you administer the tests, they both bomb it!  Now you’ve spent a lot of resources but now have to wrestle with the possibility that neither of your top choices have the aptitude for the role.

If you have a large applicant pool, testing early is also one of the most efficient ways to sort through your candidates and can give you an idea of who you want to reach out to first.  Because it’s a more predictive measure of success in a role than resumes or even interviews, testing early on can also open you up to applicants that you might normally have passed over during an initial screening process.  This is a particularly useful tool when hiring people with limited experience, like recent graduates, for whom resumes offer little insight.  It also prevents you from wasting time on applicants that would likely have been a bad fit for the role. 

Finally, you can help reduce unconscious bias in your hiring process when you test as a first step.  Since test results provides objective, standardized data on an applicant, you can look at a more predictive hiring criterion before you look at a resume or know a candidate’s name.  It’s an impartial metric that can help you identify the right candidate in a fair and objective way.

 

3.    Keep it Less Than 40 Minutes

Criteria analyzed about half a million tests to study how test duration affected the rate at which candidates completed the tests.  When we looked at how likely a candidate was to complete all the assessments asked of them, we found that testing them for more than 40 minutes is where we began to see a drop in completion rates.  Especially if you’re planning to test early in the process, we encourage you to keep your testing time under the 40 minutes mark.  As long as you’ve chosen the right tests, 40 minutes of testing can provide you with plenty of valuable information on your candidates’ abilities. 

This amount of testing (15-40 minutes) can also act as a (good) barrier to entry for people who aren’t serious about the job.  If a candidate isn’t willing to spend 40 minutes or less applying for a job, it’s unlikely they were serious about the position in the first place.  The internet has made it easier than ever to apply for jobs, ushering in the age of the “resume spammer.”  One online job post can receive hundreds of applicants.  Putting up some reasonable application requirements helps weed out potential candidates who aren’t qualified for or serious about the role, while also giving you extremely valuable information in the earliest stages of the hiring process.

 

4.    Remember That Testing is Just One Tool

There are a lot of factors that you should consider when trying to identify the right person for a job, and we don’t believe that you should outsource your final hiring decisions to a testing company.  Pre-employment testing is one of the best predictors of success in a role, but it is still only one of many hiring tools at your disposal.  You wouldn’t buy a house if you only saw a handful of the rooms.  You’d want a complete tour.  Similarly, in order to make the most informed hiring decisions, you should look at all the factors that go into making a candidate the best person for the job.

 

A window into your candidates’ aptitude, personality, and skills can be invaluable when identifying top talent in your applicant pools.  When used correctly, pre-employment testing can deliver reliable insights in these areas and be one of the most valuable parts of your hiring process. 

 

Emily Peirce

Written by Emily Peirce



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