The 7 factors to consider when choosing pre-employment tests

The 7 factors to consider when choosing pre-employment tests

There are multiple ways in which we can assess whether a candidate is a good fit before making a final hiring decision. For multiple decades the most common way of doing this was through resumes and motivational letters. Which, and I am sure you already know – is not the most reliable way of assessing someone’s fit for the job. 

Research has revealed that the correlation between past work experience and future job performance is only a shocking 16%.

Unfortunately, most hiring decisions are still being made based on someone’s past experiences and achievements. When in reality – it’s a lousy predictor of how well someone will do in a new job. That’s why many recruiters have chosen to use pre-employment tests as means of determining the suitability and the future job performance of each candidate. All before making a final hiring decision.

Research by SHRM highlights that pre-employment tests need to be selected with care – otherwise their use might lead to adverse effects.

In this blog, we will share the 7 factors to take into account when choosing a pre-employment testing tool:

  1. Type of assessment
  2. What is being measured
  3. The position of the assessments in the hiring funnel
  4. Candidate experience
  5. Hiring bias & contribution to DE&I
  6. Scientific validation & foundation
  7. Possibility to analyse current team


What are pre-employment tests?

Pre-employment tests reveal the parts of human beings that you can’t reveal through a resume or a motivation letter, but that do have a significant impact on their job fit and future job performance. After all, each new employee should bring a special set of skills, knowledge, and talents to the workplace that will contribute to the overall success of the company.

Now you know what are pre-employment tests. So, let’s take a look at the 7 factors that you should consider when choosing pre-employment tests to use in your next hiring round! 


The 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:

(1) types of assessments; (2) what’s being measured; (3) The position of the assessments in the hiring funnel; (4) candidate experience; (5) hiring bias & contribution to DE&I; (6) scientific validation/foundation; and (7) possibility to analyse the current team (yes/no). 


Type of assessment & what’s being measured

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. 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. Cognitive ability tests focus on measuring someone’s general mental capacity which is the #1 most important trait determinant of job performance. For example, it can be a critical thinking test.

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

I can hear you thinking – “Does it really matter at which part of the hiring funnel I ask candidates to complete assessments, as the results will be the same anyway?”.

Even though the way a candidate scores on the pre-employment assessments might be the same, the position of the assessments within the hiring funnel can lead to unwanted & negative consequences.

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 leading 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. All without getting distracted by insights such as demographic details or your very own unconscious bias. 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?


Candidate Experience

60% of applicants have quit an application in the middle due to its length, complexity and because it’s been to stressful. In general, candidate experience is an indicator of how the company values people. And traditional assessments are the number one cause of stress during the application process. However, more modern assessment methods such as gamified assessments not only improve applicant engagement but also reduce the feelings of test anxiety.

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 more traditional pre-employment assessments.

Let me give you an example:

  • A personality questionnaire presents all possible answers to a question, thus stimulating socially desirable answers and leading to a higher chance of cultural bias to creep in.

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?


Scientific validation/foundation

Assessments provide us with the unique opportunity to take a look inside our brains, revealing our behaviours, talents, and potential. However, most traditional assessments rely on models, such as the Big Five, which have been created decades or even centuries ago. 

That’s why it’s important to ensure that the pre-employment assessments you choose to use are created and validated as novel scientific instruments that ensure reliability, 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. If you are not aware of the actual hiring needs, you are likely to make a mishire.

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, contribute to existing personalities and behaviours within the team and enables your team to excel. That’s exactly why 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?


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). 

There are 7 main factors that everyone should keep in mind when choosing a pre-employment testing tool:

(1) types of assessments; (2) what’s being measured; (3) The position of the assessments in the hiring funnel; (4) candidate experience; (5) hiring bias & contribution to DE&I; (6) scientific validation/foundation; and (7) possibility to analyse the current team (yes/no). 

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.

Reading tip: Don’t have time to draw comparisons yourself? Take a look at the 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!

Cheers, Anete

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