Undoubtedly, there are numerous methods for evaluating a candidate’s suitability prior to making a final hiring decision.
Traditionally, resumes and cover letters have been the most prevalent tools used for this purpose, despite their unreliability in capturing an individual’s aptitude for a job. Studies have shown that there is a mere 0.16 correlation between past work experience and future job performance, which reveals the inadequacy of relying solely on an applicant’s accomplishments and previous work history to predict their performance in a new role.
That is precisely why many recruiters have turned to pre-employment tests instead. Yet, as highlighted by SHRM – pre-employment tests need to be selected with care – otherwise their use might lead to adverse effects. In this blog, we will share 7 factors to take into account when choosing a pre-employment testing tool.
What are pre-employment tests?
Pre-employment tests reveal the part about human beings that cannot be revealed through a resume or a motivation letter, but that do have a significant impact on their job fit and future job performance.
Mari Järvinen from our Breaking Bias Expert Panel mentions that:
7 factors to consider when choosing pre-employment tests
There are 7 main factors that everyone should keep in mind when choosing a pre-employment testing tool:
- Type of assessment
- What is being measured
- The position of assessment in the hiring funnel
- Candidate experience
- Hiring bias and contribution to DE&I
- Scientific validation/foundation
- Possibility to analyse current teams
Type of assessment & what’s being measured
Without a doubt there are multiple types of pre-employment tests out there, however, the following three are the most commonly used types of tests to assess candidates: job knowledge tests, personality & behavioural tests, cognitive ability tests.
Job knowledge tests
Job knowledge tests assess candidates on specific job-related knowledge and elements. An example of such a test could be a Python test for a software engineer position.
Personality & behavioural tests
These types of assessments offer insight into whether a candidate’s personality can translate into job success, for example, the DISC assessment, Myers & Briggs’ 16 personality types indicator or the Big Five.
Cognitive ability tests
Your choice of a pre-employment assessment highly depends on your hiring needs. For example, if you are looking to hire someone with specific, job-related knowledge – then you should go for a job knowledge test. However, if you need someone who is more capable of independent problem-solving – then you might want to go for a cognitive ability test.
That’s why before choosing a pre-employment assessment tool, ask yourself the following: what is it that you want to measure when assessing & evaluating candidates, and why is it important for the specific job role?
The position of the assessments in the hiring funnel
By introducing assessments after a first screening (whether it be a phone call or a first interview), you will end up attempting to validate the assumptions that you unconsciously made during this screening. This way leads to a biased, subjective evaluation of a candidate which can either result in you making the biggest mishire of your life or simply missing out on candidates that would have been amazing for the job.
However, by introducing pre-employment assessments at the start of the hiring funnel – you can create a solid impression of the candidate without getting distracted by insights such as demographic details or your very own unconscious bias, which are in no way predictive for hiring success. And what’s even better is that this way you are able to identify high potential candidates that might have a less impressive resume. Especially in a tight labour market – this is definitely a big pro.
Before choosing a pre-employment assessment tool, ask yourself the following: do you care about creating the right first impression of a candidate from step 1?
60% of applicants will abandon the recruitment process if it is too stressful. In general, candidate experience is an indicator of how the company values people.
Candidate experience means ensuring that your candidates have a good time during the total application procedure. As they put quite some time and effort into applying to one of your jobs, the least you can do is make sure they have fun while doing this and each candidate is given an equal chance to showcase themselves as unique individuals.
Before choosing a pre-employment assessment tool, ask yourself the following: do you want to boost your employer brand by creating an unforgettable candidate experience?
Hiring bias & contribution to DE&I
When we talk about hiring bias, we tend to focus most on bias throughout the interview or resume screening process arising from a candidate’s demographics – age, gender, education level, race, etc. However, bias can also be present within the pre-employment assessments used to determine the suitability of candidates for a certain job role.
Here are a few examples:
- Traditional behavioural assessments, such as personality questionnaires, primarily rely on self-reporting by candidates, which leads to the tendency for candidates to answer questions in a way they believe will be viewed favourably by the employer. This is called the social desirability bias – a bias is likely to lead to inaccuracies in the assessment results.
- Traditional tests are often developed within one culture and often do not take cultural differences into account. For instance, certain words or phrases might have different connotations or meanings in different cultures, which will significantly change the accuracy of the test. Resulting in cultural bias.
We can’t prevent being biased. But we can prevent acting on it by choosing to use pre-employment assessments that help us gather the right insights at the right time.
Before choosing a pre-employment assessment tool, ask yourself the following: are you capable of preventing hiring bias from affecting your hiring decisions without any help?
Additionally, diversity and Inclusion should be your first priority. It should go without saying that everyone is treated equally and feels equally appreciated – but unfortunately, we’re still far away from that. When it comes to pre-employment assessments, everyone, regardless of their demographics, preferences, personality, and so forth, should get an equal opportunity to showcase themselves and to get hired.
Before choosing a pre-employment assessment tool, ask yourself the following: do you genuinely care about ensuring equal opportunities and DE&I?
Mari Järvinen emphasizes that: “we must be cautious, as tests such as Myers-Briggs typology, is unsuitable for recruitment purposes as it lacks validity and reliability“.
Thus, it is important to ensure that the pre-employment assessments you choose to use are created and validated as novel scientific instruments that ensure reliability, and are constantly assessed & improved accordingly.
Before choosing a pre-employment assessment tool, ask yourself the following: if you’re choosing a pre-employment assessment, would you choose one that is not scientifically validated?
Possibility to assess the current team (Team Analysis)
When hiring, there is often a gap between what we perceive are our hiring needs and what they actually are. That’s why in most cases it is of utmost importance to close the gap between perceptual and actual hiring needs by assessing your current team composition in terms of top-performance indicators, skill gaps, and cultural characteristics, to objectively set your hiring requirements.
A new hire is so much more than adding a set of extra skills to the team. A successful hire: fits within the team like a glove, contributes to existing personalities and behaviours within the team and enables your team to excel.
A successful hire starts with mapping out exactly who you need.
However, most pre-employment assessments are solely focused on assessing candidates, rather than providing you with insights about how these candidates would fit with your current teams and contribute in terms of knowledge or skills.
Before choosing a pre-employment assessment tool, ask yourself the following: do you know what will make someone a successful hire within YOUR company?
To sum up
What pre-employment testing options are available to you?
Without a surprise, as the popularity (and demand) for pre-employment tests skyrocketed, so did the variety of companies offering pre-employment assessments. As with most things in life – it’s important to carefully outweigh all the options available out there (because for different needs, there are different tools).
After all, a good decision is an informed decision. Especially when you are thinking about investing in tooling that is meant to help you choose the best candidates and make the best hiring decisions.
Don’t have time to draw comparisons yourself? Don’t worry about it – we got you covered! Take a look at this comparison between candidate pre-employment testing tools that we prepared for you!
If you have any questions or just want to have a chat with us, feel free to reach out – no strings attached! All we want is to help you create a hiring process that is fair, efficient and based on science instead of guesswork!