How Pre-employment Skills Assessments and Screening Improve Hiring

Organizations devote a lot of resources to finding the top talent who will contribute to their success. Advertising, recruiting, interviewing, onboarding, and training costs quickly add up and can all be for naught if candidates end up leaving within a few months. Whether they leave voluntarily, or are let go due to inadequate performance, unrealistic expectations, a poor cultural fit, or some other reason, employee turnover is bad for the bottom line. Companies can increase their chances of finding the best talent and avoid mis-hires through the use of of effective pre-employment testing and screening.

The Benefits of Pre-employment Testing

There have long been various testing tools available to help hiring managers identify candidates who are a good match for their organizations. These tests measure a wide spectrum of candidate characteristics, including psychological, cognitive, critical thinking, and motivation. For example, the ‘Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) psychological test, developed in the 1940s, is in widespread use throughout the world. It consists of a series of questions, the answers to which are calculated to come up with an indication of a candidate’s personality type. The test results reveal an individual’s truly dominant traits, providing clarity on their suitability to a particular position, organization, or career.

These tests provide a more objective and reliable assessment of a candidate than they might report themselves, or an interviewer might perceive. Interviews alone—even structured ones—are not enough to ensure candidates are representing themselves accurately.

While these tests are frequently administered to predict performance, they’re also used for other workforce management purposes. For example, tests can be used to determine leadership potential and/or to develop cohesive teams.

Another benefit of pre-employment testing is considerably reducing the time required to screen candidates. Hiring managers can use test results to establish objective minimum thresholds that candidates must meet, offsetting the need for extensive reference checks. These standards can also serve to reduce an employer’s legal exposure to charges of discrimination or bias.

Types of Pre-employment Testing and Screening

There is a large number and variety of pre-employment standardized tests available, depending on the positions an organization is looking to fill and the industry. At their very core, these tests are designed to measure a candidate’s essential competencies for the position. In addition, a background check verifies the accuracy of their CV and discovers any criminal activity or previous employer sanctions. Here are some examples of frequently-administered tests and screening:

Background Check

A background check is what it sounds like: it involves checking all areas of a candidate’s history to ensure they are who they say they are. This usually includes:

  • Education
  • Past employment
  • References
  • Criminal history
  • Civil records

Employment Skills Assessment

These tests are designed to measure verbal, math, writing, and/or skills specific to the industry or role:

  • Criteria Basic Skills Test (CBST)
  • Computer Literacy and Internet Knowledge Test (CLIK)

Employment Personality Test

Personality tests determine whether a candidate will be happy in a particular role, and whether they have the personality traits needed for success. They help determine general job fit.

  • Criteria Personality Inventory (CPI)
  • Employee Personality Profile (EPP)

Employment Aptitude Test

Employee aptitude tests measures candidates’ innate ability to do or learn certain kinds of work.

  • Workplace Productivity Profile (WPP)
  • Criteria Attention Skills Test (cAST)
  • MiniCog Rapid Assessment Battery (MRAB)
  • Wiesen Test of Mechanical Aptitude (WTMA)
  • Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test (CCAT)

While these screening tests are designed to produce standardized measurement across all candidates, they’re not perfect:

  • They can’t measure a candidate’s willingness to learn and improve.
  • Measurements of cognitive ability and general knowledge can be discriminatory.
  • Candidates can misrepresent themselves by answering dishonestly.
  • In a tight labor market, employers risk losing top candidates who may receive competing job offers during the testing period.

For this reason, large companies may develop their own customized, pre-employment assessments, based on criteria gleaned from the performance of current employees.

In addition to administering pre-employment skills tests and conducting a professional criminal background check, many employers screen candidates using social media and online search networks. Online candidate profiles provide another dimension for hiring managers to consider.

Whatever methodology your company chooses, it’s important to implement a pre-employment assessment and screening process to ensure you hire talent who can not only perform but will be motivated and engaged over the long term.

As an alternative, employers can save time by working with a reputable staffing agency like LINK to find pre-screened candidates.