The Definitive Guide to Pre-Employment Testing

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The Definitive Guide to Pre-Employment Testing

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Everything you need to know about pre-employment testing.

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Pre-Employment Testing

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What is Pre-Employment Testing?

Pre-employment tests are a set of assessments that aim to measure a person’s behavior, personality, reasoning, competence, integrity, skills, and cognitive ability. Measure these things in candidates can help with identifying the behaviors and natural inclinations of candidates that are linked to job satisfaction, retention, and engagement over long periods of time. Knowing this and other information measured with traditional assessment tools before hiring a candidate is helpful in making significantly more effective hiring decisions.

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Job Satisfaction

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Retention

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EngagementWhy Do We Use Pre-Employment Testing?Expand

The simple answer: Pre-employment tests can help an employer gain valuable insight on a client that cannot be obtained through resumes or interviews.

Every business wants to find the right employees – the people who will fit in, become top performers, and contribute to the company’s success. There are several figures regarding the costs of a bad hire. Some claim that bad hires cost businesses from 1 to 5 times the annual salary of that person and still, others claim turnover is as expensive as 150% of an employee’s salary.

The argument for using multi-measure pre-employment testing is designed to prevent these expenses by preventing turnover, and ultimately, by preventing poor hiring decisions in the first place. According to a study by Aberdeen, companies that use pre-employment testing have reported a 39% lower turnover rate.

The practice of administering personality tests to potential hires in order to achieve this goal continues to rise in popularity. It is estimated that 82% of employers use pre-employment testing to assess their candidates in the hiring process, measuring critical candidate skills like competence, attitude, aptitude, and personality.

The purpose of using pre-employment tests is multifaceted; throughout history, using assessment methods in science and psychology have traditionally been accepted as an established way to effectively measure a specific topic or relationship from which we have formed a hypothesis.

Using pre-employment testing in the screening and hiring process aims to do much of the same thing. Aside from screening resumes and interviewing candidates, we really know very little about a person, their experience, or how their talents translate to success on the job and how that might look in our business. Measuring skills, personality traits, and level of competence through the lens of pre-employment testing is, therefore, one of the most objective and unbiased methods for gaining insight into a candidate’s potential and likelihood for success on the job.

Businesses who use pre-hire testing in their screening process have a better chance of selecting employees who will fit with their company culture, are a great behavioral and personality fit, who are capable, have the necessary skills, will stay engaged over time and ultimately experience greater success on the job. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Types of Assessment

There are several types of pre-employment screening tests on the market that assess for nearly everything possible. As mentioned, when selecting your assessments, it’s important to consider the role and ensure that the testing you choose is strategically matched to that role so you avoid any discriminatory practices.

The following pre-employment assessments are the most common types used for pre-employment screening:Cognitive Ability TestsExpand

Tests that assess cognitive ability also measure competence and skill level of certain attributes dealing with people, navigating roles in interpersonal relationships like communication, listening, understanding others, initiative, and coaching skills.

The Wimbush IC Ability and Sales Ability assessments do just that. We have identified several traits that indicate strengths in dealing with people, such as understanding human nature, coaching, training, boldness in dealing with others, humility, confronting people, and confidence fear. We also measure initiative and communication skills as well.

On the Sales Ability test, we measure many of the same people-handling traits above, in addition to overall sales knowledge, sales manager knowledge, closer ability, hunting skills, questioning ability, solution selling, relationship sales, and assertiveness.Logical Reasoning TestsExpand

Logical Reasoning tests measure logic abilities such as problem solving, decision making, mechanical logic and outside of the box thinking. We measure these traits with a series of logic-oriented questions designed to determine whether candidates can think critically, utilize creative problem-solving techniques, and can solve challenging scenarios in a timely and efficient manner.Personality Tests and Career Aptitude TestExpand

Personality and career aptitude tests measure a candidate’s behavioral preferences and natural inclinations. It is critical to understand an employee’s work style and aptitude when screening them for a position because it’s these characteristics that relate directly to retention, engagement, and overall success on the job.

Placing a candidate in a position that doesn’t align with their aptitude or interests will likely lead them to become disengaged or quit prematurely because they’re not well-suited for the role for extended periods of time.

Personality and career aptitude tests typically organize candidates into categories that describe their traits and behaviors and represent the relationship between the various types. The Wimbush IC and SL Behavioral Aptitude Tests organize candidates into one of four categories known  as “quadrants” and include Analyzer/Logical, the Controller/Assertive, the Expressive/Social, and the Supporter/Empathy.Emotional Competence, Conscientiousness & Emotional Intelligence TestsExpand

Tests that measure emotional intelligence gauge a candidate’s level of sensitivity to how well they deal with and respond to others. Emotional Intellegence determines one’s ability to effectively understand their emotions, as well as influence and understand others.

We use this information in our hiring process to make decisions about how candidates might perform on the job and how their level of emotional intelligence influences characteristics like self-confidence, motivation, focus, and work ethic.Attitude, Honesty, and Integrity AssessmentsExpand

Testing for attitude, honesty and integrity helps you understand where your candidates land on the scale of attitude traits like honesty, blame, level of supportiveness or likelihood of being a team player.

Measuring honesty and integrity traits pre-hire is crucial to ensure you choose a candidate who is a supportive team player with a positive attitude and believes in honesty even if it might make them look bad over someone who fails to take responsibility for their actions and is always passing the blame onto someone or something else.

You can have an extremely talented employee with high-performance numbers and a bad attitude and be in quite a challenging situation. On the one hand, your numbers are up, but who knows how they got to be that way? Can you trust that your talented candidate with a poor attitude follow procedure or didn’t burn any bridges to get those results? Hiring and assessing for attitude is one of the best ways to ensure a good hire and avoid costly mistakes.Sales TestExpand

Measuring candidate sales skills and sales aptitude allows you to determine the likelihood that your candidate is a fit for a sales role. Sales tests that measure skills will provide insight on whether the candidate has the knowledge while sales aptitude tests will provide insight into a candidate’s personality fit for the role by measuring traits required to be successful and happy in a sales role, like assertiveness, self-confidence, expressiveness, and like to be around people.Skill AssessmentsExpand

Measure for various skill sets, like general attention to detail, reading and writing skills, or specific computer programs like Microsoft Excel with a skill test to ensure that your candidates have the basic skills needed to be successful in your role.

We offer a host of skill assessments for every type of candidate and position. You can find many types of assessments in our library measuring skills like sales, supervisory style, math, writing, reading, grammar, speed typing, MS Suite, computer literacy, data entry, and more.

Selecting the proper assessment for your position is a crucial part of the hiring and screening process. You want to make sure that your assessments are suited to the position and that you adhere to proper guidelines and recommendations for when to give them and to whom.
Check Out Our Assessment Library

How Pre-Employment Testing Benefits Your Talent Acquisition Efforts

The benefits of using pre-employment tests as part of a solid talent acquisition strategy are endless. From saving money and time to streamlining the screening process, using pre-employment testing to measure skills, competence and personality can help address and improve a host of business challenges.

The following are just a handful of challenges testing addresses in your talent acquisition process:1. Talent Management and Labor Market ChallengesExpand

With the effects of economic recovery from the recession of 2008 still being felt across human resource teams, HR leaders have been challenged with labor shortage challenges and a candidate skills gap.  Research from the Korn Ferry Institute suggests that nearly 60% of employers struggle to fill jobs within 3 months and confirm these skills gap challenges will only continue growing. This has led hiring managers to place increasing pressure on their HR executives to fill positions faster and with more dynamic talent.

To address this, HR leaders are increasingly turning to tools like pre-employment assessments that might help them screen a higher volume of candidates faster and more thoroughly, earlier in the talent management process, as these assessments have been shown to better identify candidates who have the core abilities and behaviors that allow them to excel on the job.2. Creating a Positive Candidate Experience in the Interview ProcessExpand

Measuring candidate traits as part of the selection process contributes to a positive candidate experience by helping to make sure the candidate ends up in a career where they are most likely to be successful. There is no sense in filling a role with a candidate whose personality and preferences are ill-aligned with the activities of the role. Measuring these traits during the interview process can help both the candidate and company understand where they might be the best fit, or not.

Communication is one of the most important components to be mindful of in the talent acquisition process. Be sure to communicate your purpose and intent to use assessments in your interview process. You might explain to candidates that these tools help you make better hiring decisions by ensuring the candidate is a good fit, which will, therefore, increase their chances of personal and professional success, job enjoyment and overall satisfaction with work.

One research study found that, after a 3 year check-in, employees who have a positive candidate experience and onboarding process are 69% more likely to stick with your company. Helping candidates see how pre-employment assessment tests are used not only as a screening tool, but also as a way to help provide a sense of clarity that benefits both them and you, allows for transparency, respect, and a level of communication that many candidates appreciate during this phase in the interview process.3. Accelerate the Hiring Process With the Use of Pre-Employment TestsExpand

Using pre-employment testing early in the hiring process helps candidates and employers identify sooner whether they are a likely fit for the job or not. If you have several candidates applying for a job, it can become a daunting and overwhelming task to review and screen all of them in a timely manner. Having a screening tool like an assessment that you can use to verify certain skills and abilities can help you narrow down your candidate pool more quickly and efficiently.

Similarly, being able to confirm whether candidates are a fit sooner frees up your other employees who may be filling in for the vacancy, and reduces any lost productivity for the business as a whole. Every day your business has an unfilled position or an underperforming employee filling a key role is a loss of new sales opportunities, reduced capacity to produce or deliver your products and services, and increased cost to support your clients.

Another key point to consider in wanting to execute a speedy hiring process is to avoid candidate drop-off. In a tight labor market, good candidates are hard to come by. Inc. claims that the best candidates are off the market within 10 days anyway, so having a long and drawn out hiring process only increases the chances of them dropping out or getting poached by another company. The quicker you move, the better your chances are of hiring a really great candidate.

Mismanaging any of these factors can result in both reduced profitability and overall business growth.4. Improve Poor Hiring Practices with Pre-Employment TestsExpand

Hiring a candidate who is not a fit for your role, for reasons of work style, personality, or competency, increases the likelihood of them quitting prematurely or you having to terminate them for lack of performance. Pre-employment testing used to screen out candidates who won’t be successful in the role or who are not up to par with your requirements will save you the trouble, time and cost of making a poor hiring decision. The less time and financial investment you put forth for the wrong candidates frees you up to focus on those candidates who do meet your standards and have the necessary skills and motivation that will drive business growth.

Implementing a system of assessment for your talent acquisition process sets your business up to address previous poor hiring practices and sets your business up for success with more deliberate and better structured future hiring objectives.5. A Way to Improve Interview Skills for Emerging LeadersExpand

Because pre-employment testing provides an in-depth and comprehensive look into a candidate’s skills and personality style, interviewers can better understand and hone in on areas a candidate scored particularly well or poorly during initial interviews.

This insight will help interviewers identify the most important components of their position and how they pose their questions to get the most out of each interview with candidates. Focusing in on these interest areas helps interviewers further develop their process for interviewing.

Understanding the nuances of the candidate’s test results will help interviewers analyze and evaluate the most important components of their position and what makes someone successful in the role in order to better evaluate candidates against the position.

Further, using this data allows interviewers to develop and pose questions that elicit significantly more insightful information from candidates. This process of refining questions and digging into candidate results helps managers develop their interview skills and get the most out of each interview with candidates6. Serves as a Guide for Employee DevelopmentExpand

Researchers have found that pre-employment assessments can predict a candidate’s future  performance at work. Employees who have desirable personality traits, including strong levels of motivation, empathy, and self-confidence have been shown to perform better in the workplace when compared to those who don’t.

These qualities are essential in employees who will be able to stay on task, present a positive attitude towards their jobs, and perform effectively.

During the onboarding phase, HR leaders can use the information gleaned from pre-employment testing to target these areas where an employee might need improvement. Now, in addition to being a tool used to help assess for hiring, an employee’s test results can also serve as a starting point for improving their performance and creating SMART goals to increase productivity over the duration of their career. Because assessments highlight current level of ability with skill and competency testing, employers and employees have a unique opportunity to review these areas for underdeveloped skills and use this information to create performance management plans for employee development and improvement.
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Predicting Candidate Outcomes with Pre-Employment Testing

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Pre-Employment Testing Predicts Employee Engagement

Utilizing employment testing in your hiring process helps contribute to overall employee engagement by ensuring the job is a good fit for the candidate in terms of personality, behavior preferences, and work style, before hiring. Nobody wants to be in a job they don’t like, aren’t good at, or can’t be successful in. In this way, pre-employment tests help candidates uncover the likelihood of whether a job will be a great fit for them by measuring key traits of a candidate and matching them to the activities of the job in order to estimate the level of long-term job satisfaction and employee engagement.

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Pre-Employment Testing Predicts Employee Retention Rate

Just as is the case with employee engagement, using pre-employment assessments helps improve an employer’s retention rate. By assessing candidates in the screening process for skills and characteristics that are tied to their success on the job, their ability to retain employees and reduce their company turnover increases.

The predictability of assessments in measuring candidate personality and aptitude, for example, lend insight that an employer can use in placing the candidate in the best position for their type and interests. Going through the process of hiring and onboarding only to result in quick turnover has huge hidden costs to businesses. Hiring and onboarding talent often takes a substantial amount of time and the time dedicated to this process is extremely costly, especially when a hire doesn’t work out.

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Using Pre-Employment Screening to Gain Insights About Candidate Skills

Identifying qualified talent can be tricky in this tight labor market. With highly specialized skills required for many jobs, it’s even harder to find qualified candidates. And how are we supposed to know whether a candidate who applies for our position truly has the working knowledge to execute the tasks required of them on the job?

Using skill tests in the screening process, either before interviewing a candidate or during another phase in the hiring process to identify specialized job skills can make the candidate evaluation process faster and more meaningful for all involved.

Using personality tests or aptitude tests to identify core behaviors and natural inclinations that may indicate success on the job is one way to narrow down your candidate pool to distinguish the top performers from those who are not.

Likewise, using tools like an ability test to measure logical reasoning, cognitive ability and interpersonal skills and strengths related to job skills is also a great way to identify high potential talent for development when specific trained skills are still underdeveloped.
More About Predicting Candidate OUtcomes

How Validity Affects the Predictive Quality of Assessments

Assessment validity is essential to any pre-employment testing program because it assures three things that should be present with any assessment being used to aid in making hiring decisions. They are:

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The test is actually measuring something

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The test is specifically measuring what you want to measure

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What the test is measuring can predict an outcome

To provide a quantifiable way of verifying that an assessment possesses validity, formal processes have been developed by researchers over the years. The following are different types of validity used to determine the efficacy of pre-employment tests as they relate to our testing:Content ValidityExpand

An assessment has content validity when the questions being asked can be reasonably associated with the measurements they are intended to measure. For example, every question that relates to the trait of “Patience” should be asking the test taker about their preferences with being patient.Construct ValidityExpand

An assessment has construct validity when the traits it purports to measure are actually being measured. For example, if a test taker scores 100 on an “assertive” trait, then they should, in reality, be a very assertive person.Criterion ValidityExpand

An assessment has criterion validity when its results can be strongly associated with an outcome. For example,when testing for a sales role, we find that a test taker’s level of extroversion is a good predictor of whether or not they will be a good salesperson.

When a test meets all of the above checks for reliability and validity, we can say with confidence that the assessment is predictive in what it measures. So, if you want to identify certain traits and characteristics of a candidate for the sake of making a good hiring decision, choose an assessment with strong validity.
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Best Practices for Using Pre-Employment Testing

When implementing screening tools in your screening process, you’ll want to follow a set of hiring best practices to ensure you get the most from the experience and the results your testing provides. One of the most crucial considerations right now is the labor market and how this affects your candidate’s likelihood of completing testing.1. A Tight Labor MarketExpand

In a tight labor market where candidates have a lot of choice in where they work, you could face strict barriers to candidates completing assessments and will have to evaluate how to deal with handling objections from candidates and how you will move forward or not with candidates when this happens.2. Candidate Recruiting and Sourcing StrategyExpand

Logical Reasoning tests measure logic abilities such as problem solving, decision making, mechanical logic and outside of the box thinking. We measure these traits with a series of logic-oriented questions designed to determine whether candidates can think critically, utilize creative problem-solving techniques, and can solve challenging scenarios in a timely and efficient manner.3. Recruiting High Level CandidatesExpand

Another consideration to take into account is the level of the hire you are making. Usually, the lower the level the position, the more testing you can get away with. When hiring C-Suite or high-level candidates, the more strategic you’ll want to be about testing and instead emphasize engagement and the candidate experience throughout the process.4. Implementing Best PraticesExpand

Another important consideration in implementing best practices, in order to remain fair and unbiased throughout the assessment and hiring process, you have to consider when, how, and where you’ll use assessments. Do you want to implement skill tests before meeting with candidates as a screening tool? Will the assessments be completed remotely, or will you invite candidates to complete testing on site? Do you use testing with everyone for every position you’re hiring for, or only specific roles?
Learn More About the Best Hiring Practices

Choosing the Right Pre-Employment Screening Services

Choosing the right pre-employment assessments for your business will ultimately depend on the type of roles you are looking to fill and what you are looking to measure in your potential candidates. Before selecting your pre-hire assessments, it’s necessary to take an inventory of several items:

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Evaluate the Position: What are the most important skills.

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What candidate will successfully fill the role?: What kind of traits do they exhibit?

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How will performance be measured?: How will you know if they’re successful?
How to choose the right assessments

About The Hire Talent and Our Research

We’ve been assessing the likelihood of success and potential in candidates through the implementation of hiring best practices and, ultimately, our predictive pre-employment assessment tools for the last three decades. Backed by hundreds of thousands of interviews with candidates, tireless efforts to analyze, classify, and evaluate the feedback we’ve been provided by our clients, and a sheer tenacity to be the best provider of pre-hire assessment tools, we have established ourselves as one of the leading providers of talent assessment testing available on the market today.

Legal Considerations For Pre-Employment Testing

In the age of litigation, we want to ensure that the pre-employment testing and screening methods we use and recommend are legal and compliant. In general, pre-employment testing is legal as long as it doesn’t discriminate against any group in terms of age, gender, race, religion, national origin, or disability. Along those same lines, assessment testing should apply and be relevant to the job applied for. It should not be used to exclude anyone and be consistent in the way that it is administered.

Following these steps will ensure that when using pre-employment testing for screening candidates in the hiring process, you are remaining compliant and fair, and are following best practices for staying legally compliant.

Interested in learning more about pre-employment assessment tools and how they might fit into your hiring and recruiting process? Feel free to reach out to us with any questions you have about improving your hiring process, reducing turnover, or increasing employee engagement.
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