Can Pre-Employment Tests Make You a Better Manager?

We’ve all heard the phrase, “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.” For many years, people have assumed that bad management was the biggest reason that people quit their jobs, but recent evidence from the Harvard Business Review suggests that people really do quit their jobs primarily because of the job itself – either because they no longer enjoyed the work or didn’t feel like they were gaining new skills.

Managers obviously play a role in how much enjoyment their employees get out of their jobs, and as the article explains, this creates an opportunity for managers to design roles that are more motivating and tailored to what each employee needs to feel fulfilled at work. If you want to boost retention, then you need to consider the way you are shaping your employees’ daily work activities.

The Role of Pre-Employment Tests

While many companies use pre-employment tests to help filter and select their applicants, it’s easy to forget that these tests provide insights that can also help you better manage your employees once they’re hired. Personality tests and cognitive aptitude tests are especially helpful at signaling ways that you can help each employee succeed. Let’s dive into a few examples.

Personality Tests

In the pre-hire process, personality tests can help you identify the candidates who are the best fit based on the characteristics that are most correlated with success in that particular role.  Post-hire, however, the results from that same test can provide valuable information about the way a person likes to work on a day-to-day basis.

For example, let’s take a peek at the way our Employee Personality Profile (EPP) can be used to shape an employee’s role in the company. This personality inventory assesses twelve personality traits, offering insight into a person’s general work styles.

If the test indicates that the employee is highly extroverted (i.e. that they are energized from interacting with others), then it doesn’t make sense to put them behind a computer screen all day. Depending on their role, you can assign them projects that capitalize on that strength so that their workday involves a little more social interaction.

If an employee scored high on the Motivation or Achievement trait, this means that they are highly motivated to achieve goals. The person may benefit from having their manager set clear goals for them. Not only will the employee work hard to complete those goals, but they will also experience the gratification that comes from the achievement, leading to greater enjoyment and fulfillment.

On the other hand, if an employee scores low on Openness, then they might need more boundaries and structure. Openness is one of the “big five” traits, and it signals conventional and traditional work behavior on the low end, and creativity and experimentation on the high end. Someone with a low score may want more structure and routine in their role, while someone with a high score may crave more flexibility so that they have the freedom to come up with creative solutions on their own.

Cognitive Aptitude Tests

Beyond personality tests, don’t overlook the insight you can get from a cognitive aptitude test. Cognitive aptitude tests are the single greatest predictor of job performance pre-hire, but they also provide managers with a helpful indication of how quickly an employee will be able to learn new skills and pick up training. If an employee has a relatively low score on an aptitude test, then you can adjust your management style to match their individual needs, perhaps by planning for additional training or having checkpoints in place to assess their progress.

Regardless of the pre-employment tests you use, the value you get from their results doesn’t have to be limited to the hiring process. These assessments provide insight into ways that managers can make work more enjoyable, creating a better work environment and also reducing turnover at the same time.