Should you be using pre-employment assessments when hiring for senior roles?

Anete Vesere (1)

Anete Vesere

Content Marketer

You have a senior role to fill. You’ve sent out the job description, done your research and found some great candidates that you’d love to bring on board. 

So you set up interviews and prepare yourself for a tough decision: who should I hire? Unfortunately, in reality, it’s not as simple as it might first come across.

In this post, we’ll explore why pre-employment assessments are so critical in the hiring process, especially when it comes to hiring for senior roles and what kinds of assessments can help ensure that you’re hiring the right person for your company.

What goes wrong when hiring for senior roles

#1 You focus too much on years of past experience when hiring.

When looking to hire someone for a senior role, we tend to focus too much on their professional experience. And yes, it does matter to an extent, however, the fact that someone has x amount years of experience does not automatically imply that they are the best fit for the position.

You rely on formal education, professional development classes and certifications.

Higher education in most cases is highly associated with more authority on a topic, which is then perceived just as important as practical years of experience in the workforce. However, in reality, research shows that there is no direct correlation with educational level and future job performance. What happens next? You end up rejecting potentially great candidates solely because they don’t have the Harvard stamp or haven’t completed a specific course.

#2 You forget about the importance of taking into account company specific cultural indicators.

A culture clash can be just as problematic. Hiring a financial executive whose values, beliefs or operating style conflict with other senior managers can translate into a corporate crisis.

#3 You settle for less to fill the role ASAP.

As we all know – sometimes desperate times ask for desperate measures. You might be in a situation where the productivity level of your current employees is drastically decreasing as they are forced to take upon more and more duties due to other job roles staying open for too long. This might drive you in a corner – you will start to hire anyone that applies, without taking into consideration their suitability for the role. 

This is perhaps the biggest mistake companies tend to make – hiring for a senior role out of desperation in hopes to relieve stress. Wanting to hire a person ASAP can end up up creating a lot more stress and setting you back to square one.

#4 You look for people who “tick” all the boxes.

When looking for a new employee especially for senior roles – I am almost certainly sure that the list of qualifications you come up with is pretty long. However, with every new requirement, you eliminate one more candidate from your talent pool. The more qualifications or requirements are listed as must-haves, the more your talent pool will shrink. Ultimately, leading to longer time to hire, higher cost per hire and ultimately hurt the diversity of your teams.

Now, why is this especially tragic when it comes to senior roles?

  • Senior turnover is simply more costly than entry-level.
  • Leads to depleted overall productivity and performance on both a team and company level. Higher-level (managerial) positions have considerable influence over day-to-day strategy and operations. If they’re ineffectual in their role, the business will likely feel the pain to its bottom line sooner and more profoundly.
  • Risk to ruin company reputation. A failed hire at the CFO level, for instance, can shake a company’s reputation in the marketplace of public opinion and also ruin its reputation with current customers.

How to avoid making mistakes: Pre-employment assessments when hiring for senior roles

So, without further a due – here are the reasons why using pre-employment assessments when hiring for senior roles is of utmost importance.

Allows you to gather crucial insights.

The pre-employment assessment can show what the candidate’s personality is, how they work with others, and what style of working environment they prefer.

Let me bring up the good old example of looking for “true collaborative spirit”. Nothing wrong with that at the surface level – some collaboration is necessary for any business to succeed. However, if you hire only people for senior roles who are extremely collaborative – their team will be less creative, less efficient, and take longer to come to decisions, as there will be a constant search for consensus. 

In sharp contrast, when only hiring someone who is extremely individualistic for a senior role, the team members will be very much focused on only their own goals and won’t learn a lot from each other, as less information will being shared and less feedback is being asked or given.

Long story short, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to workplace interaction. It’s just about hiring for what you need most in your open position, and what you need most in your team. And that’s about firstly, collecting the right insights you need to do that.

It reduces bias .

Using pre-employment assessment tools helps you fight bias at the very beginning of your hiring funnel. By not placing the main focus on information, such as someone’s gender, education and so on, that might overcloud your judgement and create a wrong first impression of a candidate – you can base your hiring decisions on things that matter.

Insights about candidate (soft) skills, potential, and personality traits.

It improves diversity in your pool of candidates.

By removing bias from your hiring process, you will prevent wrongfully rejecting candidates and as a result create a talent pool that is diverse and inclusive. Why is this important for more senior roles? Because diversity and inclusion starts from up top.

Protects your organisational health.

Bad hires diminish morale and reduce productivity within the company. Especially if these bad hires are within senior level. Thorough pre-employment screening helps you make the right hire and reduce your organization’s turnover rate.

Saves time & money.

Significant time and finances are spent recruiting and onboarding new hires. Selecting the wrong candidate is costly – bad hires drain an average of $14,900 from the budget. Screening applicants can help avoid unnecessary expenses and wasted time.

The cost of getting your senior hire wrong is huge – the hours spent by staff reviewing CVs, writing up job descriptions and conducting interviews, would have been for nothing, let alone the detrimental impact a bad hire can have on internal motivation and performance levels of everyone else. It can also damage client relationships, or worse, the company’s overall reputation…

That’s exactly why using pre-employment assessments can be a crucial step to creating a seamless hiring process allowing you to hire the right people for your company. Not only saving you precious time but also helping you avoid the ungodly costs of making a mishire.

After all, the value a great candidate can bring to an organisation can be monumental. They can be the missing piece to the puzzle and help overcome challenges or capitalise on new opportunities.

Picking the right assessment

There are 3 types of pre-employment tests that are used most commonly when assessing candidates: job knowledge tests, behavioural and personality tests, as well as cognitive ability tests.

Job knowledge tests.

Created and used as means of assessing specific job-related knowledge & skills, such as a test assessing someone’s coding skills, for example, in a programming language such as Elixir or Python. However, long story short – someone’s hard skills and job knowledge only show their eligibility rather than suitability for a role or how successful they will be in it.

Behavioural and personality tests.

Used to assess whether someone’s personality and behavioural aspects will translate into job success for a certain role. For example,  Myers & Briggs’ 16 personality types indicator or the Big Five. BUT (and this is a big one) – results from scientific research have a different opinion about whether they can be used as a hiring tool. On top of that, both companies even have a disclaimer on their website stating that the scores obtained from the test are not recommended for pre-employment screening.

Cognitive ability tests.

A cognitive ability test is a type of pre-employment test used to assess and objectively measure a candidate’s cognitive skills. Cognitive assessments do not measure what we think about or what we already know, instead, these pre-employment tests focus on finding out how individuals think about certain things and situations. 

In the essence of it, cognitive ability tests focus on assessing and measuring a candidate’s learning aptitude but also decision-making ability, style and so on.

Of course, cognitive abilities are important —but they’re not the only indication of someone’s future job success in a senior role.  How they work with others, what kind of work environment they perform the best in and their company culture preferences are important examples of other things to look for when hiring for senior roles. As such, when hiring for more senior positions, you might want to consider using assessments that are capable of capturing and objectively measuring all of these aspects…

Make better hiring decisions now by combining data & science

Research shows that approximately 41% if business leaders admit to trusting their gut feeling even if they know that trusting data will ultimately lead to better decisions.

Methods can change overnight. Mindsets won’t. Yet without seeking discomfort, you will not be able to go towards growth.

Hiring the best candidate for a senior role is all about objectifying your hiring decisions.  And that’s all about acting on the right data at the right time.

So, basically, if you want to be as sure as you can about someone’s future performance, you need to have the right insights. And that’s exactly why data-driven screening is so powerful. 

It provides you with the most crucial insights you need, in a scalable manner all while simultaneously reducing your time to hire, cost per hire and overall hiring quality.

Equalture’s game-based assessments to help you hire for senior roles objectively

Getting started with data-driven pre-employment assessments can seem like a big step to make, but trust me when I say – it doesn’t have to be that way.

Our game-based assessments can help you objectify your hiring practices to build the best possible teams. And this won’t be a surprise: we do so by enabling you to make hiring decisions based on data & science rather than gut feeling. 

Now you might be wondering: why are games better than traditional cognitive ability assessments? There are four main reasons:

  1. They provided you with data-backed and objective insights that’ll allow you to start hiring for potential.
  2. Gamified cognitive ability tests reveal both conscious and unconscious behaviour.
  3. No room for social desirability bias since candidates often don’t know which traits are measured per game and the only thing they can do is play.
  4. Gamified cognitive ability tests are more immersive. They make a candidate forget that they are assessed, thus reducing feelings of anxiety.


And by doing it this way, we make sure that you are able to act on data throughout the entire hiring process, not only the final step – resulting in much better hiring decisions.

A final word

In the end, it’s important to remember that pre-employment assessments are just one part of a well-thought-out hiring process. 

And creating that process starts with you. 

So, what are you waiting for – kickstart a process that is going to leave a long lasting positive impact!

Picture of Anete Vesere

Anete Vesere

Content Marketer at Equalture. Dedicated and passionate about educating the world about unconscious bias in hiring.

Our inspirational blogs, podcasts and video’s

Listen to what they say about our product offering right here