Human resources

What are the most common pre-employment assessments?

What are the most common pre-employment assessments?Ivana Georgievska
May 25, 2022

What pre-employment tests should you prepare for?

How to determine which candidate is the right fit for the job and for the employer’s company culture?

How to do it in the shortest time possible?

Do pre-employment tests expedite or prolong the hiring process? 

Let us go over some of the most used screening assessment used on employees today.

Key Takeaways

The most used pre-employment assessments are:

  • Aptitude tests
  • Soft skills test
  • Hard skills test
  • Integrity test
  • Personality test
  • Language test
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In recruitment, it’s essential that you’re hiring the right person for the job. The top talent is the fuel that runs the company and drives to success.

As Steve Jobs once said:

Go after the cream of the cream. A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.

As obvious as it sounds, it isn’t that straightforward in practice.

So, how to find the A+ players for your company?

There are numerous things that HR leaders need to factor into talent acquisition, and each company will have different specifics, depending on industry, size and objectives. 

However, to guarantee a successful hiring process, some common features can be sought in new recruits across the board.

That’s when the question of introducing pre-employment tests usually arises.

As with everything, there are advantages and disadvantages that come with adding tests to the recruitment mix.

Types of pre-employment tests

Aptitude tests

Also called cognitive ability tests.

These assessments evaluate a candidate’s problem-solving skills, logical reasoning, and ability to learn and understand new concepts. 

Rather than evaluating a specific skill, aptitude tests provide insight into the candidate’s general intelligence. 

As with all pre-employment tests, cognitive abilities should be evaluated through multiple formats - some candidates may be highly intelligent but poor test takers.

Soft skills test

Soft skills are an extremely valuable currency among job seekers.

The U.S. is currently experiencing a shortage of 1.4 million people with the necessary soft skills.

Soft skills that are in high demand are in short - communication, social intelligence and the ability to work well with others.

They determine the employee’s readiness to function well in a team.

Most of the soft skills are required for every role, regardless of the industry. 

Because it’s hard to be objective when evaluating and discussing subjective qualities between candidates, this type of pre-employment test is very useful. 

Hard skills test

By contrast, hard skills or technical skills are typically role-specific. 

For example, a software engineer would need extensive knowledge of programming languages, while an account executive should be well-versed in successful sales tactics. 

In short, hard skill tests help hiring managers evaluate the candidate’s ability to perform certain job functions. 

The more soft skills these candidates possess, the more career opportunities and success they are likely to have. 

Integrity test

Aptly named, integrity tests help recruiters weed out dishonest, unreliable, and/or unethical candidates. 

While you’ll generally be able to suss out false information listed on a resume - for example, a candidate who says they’re fluent in another language but can’t carry out a conversation - integrity tests make it easier to spot concerning character qualities.

Interviews are also a great way to determine whether the candidate is truly what they say they are. 

Unless hiring for a very specific role where integrity is a high-ranking criterion, these tests can cause distrust in the candidate and perhaps even deter the person to present themselves in the best possible light during the process. 

Personality test

Personality tests are behavioural assessments that evaluate the candidate’s disposition, role suitability, as well as their fit for the company culture. 

Even though you don’t want to hire exact replicas of the current employees, culture adds are more valuable than culture fits.

These pre-employment tests can help you identify a candidate’s dominant personality traits by distinguishing between polar characteristics such as extraversion and introversion or creativity and logic. 

Commonly used personality tests include the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator, DiSC Profile, and the Caliper Profile.

Language test

For roles that require employees to be fluent in one or more languages, use a language test to assess their skills. 

Consider administering both written and oral exams to determine if they have any limitations. You can also conduct interviews in different languages to assess speaking skills.

There is a wide range of standardised language aptitude tests on the internet that will provide final results on the knowledge and skills of a candidate.

Pros of pre-employment tests

Tests are the same for everyone

Sometimes, other assessment methods like screening calls and unstructured interviews can be unfair, or simply, biased. 

Interviewers ask different questions to different candidates and there’s no consensus on how to rate candidates’ answers.

Tests, by contrast, are standardised and administered in the same way to all candidates.

If they’re crafted according to strictly job-related criteria, they give everyone the same opportunity to succeed.

Tests can expedite interviews

Assessing 20 traits during an interview would be time-consuming and exhausting for both candidates and interviewers. 

You can assess some of these traits through pre-employment testing instead.

It’s best to assess job knowledge through tests to avoid losing time interviewing candidates who can’t do the job. 

You can also evaluate certain skills through tests like typing speed, written communication, or problem-solving.

Tests allow you to rely on quantifiable insight

Sometimes experienced hiring managers have a gut feeling about certain candidates.

Unfortunately, this gut feeling isn’t always a good ally. 

It might lead them to the wrong conclusions if it takes the form of unconscious bias. It’s also not legally defensible. 

Tests, much like structured interviews, give you something tangible to guide your hiring decisions. 

They help you to be specific about your reasons for rejecting candidates, instead of relying solely on intuition.

Tests can be strictly job related

Unless you’re using structured interviews, it’s easy to stray from job-related criteria when interviewing candidates. 

But, tests can be designed to focus solely on what really matters for the job.

Have a senior at the relevant job position in your company create a set of questions and tasks that can be completed in a specific amount of time.

This kind of test can be the best measurement if the future employee is a fit for your company. 

Cons of pre-employment tests

Tests rarely give the whole picture

Each test usually measures a handful of traits.

This means that they neglect to assess important details.

For example, job knowledge tests are good at assessing job-specific knowledge. 

But, they don’t take into account how willing (or able) someone is to learn and improve.

Candidates might have never used CRM systems before but they could learn quickly. 

Other candidates might have deep knowledge of such systems but could be unwilling to try new technologies.

Test results alone won’t necessarily tell you who’d be the best candidate for your company.

To assess more traits, you will have to use multiple tests.

There’s a risk that this will annoy or exhaust candidates.

They might stop trying to give honest or thoughtful answers if they’re tired of taking copious amounts of tests.

Tests invite lies

Not all test results can be checked and verified.

If you ask candidates to complete integrity and work ethics test, then you can expect candidates to occasionally fake their answers. 

This doesn’t always happen consciously. People tend to present themselves in the best possible light (called social desirability bias). We all do it.

And we’re more likely to misrepresent ourselves when a job is at stake. 

For example, extroversion is usually highly valued in the workplace.

If a personality test asks candidates to rate their social skills, you can expect that few candidates, if any, will rate themselves as anti-social.

Tests and their results are often ambiguous

You might have come across one that asks you to indicate whether you agree or disagree with statements like “morality is important.” 

But how can you be sure there will be a consensus among candidates on what this sentence means?

Some people might think it means treating others fairly. 

But others might associate morality with religion. This kind of ambiguity can give you unreliable results.

Tests result in a prolonged time to fill

Giving one 30-minute test to all shortlisted candidates can slow down your recruitment process.

If you add various types of tests and an assignment (which is generally a good idea), prepare yourself for a lengthy process. 

It’s still worth it though since tests can improve the quality of hire.

Tests assume unique people are made through molds

People have many things in common. But, there are also many things that make us different. Tests can’t capture this variation.

They assume we all respond the same way to situations and statements.

Companies usually look for culture and qualification fit and tests can help them hire people made from the same mold. But, this approach doesn’t always work. 

It might be more beneficial for companies to hire people who complement their culture. Or people who have unique abilities and views. Diverse teams produce better results, after all.

Conclusion

There’s always the “golden middle” that’s the right answer in most debates. 

In order not to lengthen the hiring process to cost-ineffective stages, we recommend integrating one pre-employment test for your candidates.

Make sure you choose the one that’s the most important for your company.

This approach will ensure more insightful candidate interviews and more effective hiring.   


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