Pre Employment Testing - The Science of Smart Hiring
There is a growing trend in talent acquisition; employers are utilizing pre employment testing tools to assess candidates in and effort to improve their hiring results. Assessment testing has been a human resources tool for at least three decades, but the process is more prevalent today than ever, in part because making bad hiring decisions is too costly in lost productivity, time, and training. In addition, a hiring mistake at a senior level in a small to mid-size company can have a significant impact on overall firm performance and morale.
There have been several studies showing the cost of a “bad hire” to be anywhere between 1.5 to 3 times the person’s compensation. While these studies seek to quantify the loss, my experience has shown that far greater damage can result from making a bad hire in the mid to senior level ranks. It doesn’t matter if the area is sales, finance, operations, or technology. A bad senior hire in any department can cause long term problems for the organization. There are ways to avoid making hiring mistakes – and one of those ways is by implementing an effective pre-employment assessment testing process.
Types of Assessment Testing Instruments
There are hundreds of assessment tests in the market. Some measure abilities and others may measure personality fit. The term "psychological testing" covers a broad range of tests, including tests of cognitive ability and personality tests. Cognitive ability or aptitude tests attempt to measure the potential to learn a specific body of knowledge. These tests include assessing a candidate’s abilities in critical thinking and other intellectual skills and characteristics (memory, number speed, accuracy, reasoning, word comprehension, and spatial visualization – to name a few).
Personality tests (also known as behavioral assessments) are instruments for the measurement of emotional, motivational, interpersonal, and attitudinal characteristics, as distinguished from abilities. Thus, they measure personality traits, temperament, personal preferences, interests and attitudes, ways of thinking about oneself, and styles of relating to others.
Not all assessments are suitable for use as pre employment assessments. Specifically, psychological assessments that were designed for clinical or diagnostic use should not be used. There is a big difference between pre employment testing and clinically-oriented psychological testing. The courts have consistently ruled that psychological testing generally has no place in the business environment. However, using a well-established and validated pre-employment assessment instrument properly ensures protection against EEOC problems. When an assessment program is properly implemented and utilized in conjunction with other standard hiring and interviewing procedures, it strengthens the employer’s position of taking affirmative action to ensure that applicants and employees are treated fairly without regard to race, color, age, religion, sex, or national origin.
It is a Growing Trend Because It Works
There is no question as to the value of a strong pre employment testing process. It is a growing trend because it works. Selecting the best candidate for a position is an art and a science. The assessment process adds a much higher level of reliability to all of the data points being considered – those gathered from the resume, the interview, the reference checks, and the assessment test itself. It adds to the science of the selection process and inserts a level of objectivity that can be extremely valuable in the interview process itself. This is one of the reasons why we prefer to conduct the assessments toward the beginning of the candidate qualification process. The results provide a valuable interviewing guide and provide the interviewer with specific points to focus on as they relate to the position.
A well-executed assessment process will help to avoid hiring mediocre performers, reduce hiring mistakes, and contribute to identifying personalities, attitudes and workplace behaviors that will be (or will not be) successful in the position and in your corporate culture. Over time this upgrades the quality of your team and greatly improves retention. Given the affordability of these services now, it pays to include them in your hiring process.