Pre-employment tests: What are they, and how do they work?

Pre-employment tests: What are they, and how do they work?

Hiring new employees can be expensive for business owners, but hiring bad employees can cost a company even more. Using employer assessment tests, also called pre-employment tests, can help prevent hiring candidates who aren't qualified or who don't have the personality to fit in. Hiring managers can benefit from implementing pre-employment tests, but they need to understand how to use them and what their options are first. Let's explore how to identify high-potential employees using pre-employment tests so you can hire the best people for your team.

Why you should use pre-employment tests

Unfortunately, some people lie on their resumes or adjust the truth slightly to help them look good to a potential employer. This means that relying on a resume alone to assess a candidate isn't wise. Pre-hire assessment tests can help you learn more about a candidate before they join your team. There are various assessment tests you can use, and because every company seeks different traits in candidates, it's important to know which type of test your company should use to get the right employees. 

The answers a candidate gives on their pre-employment test will provide insight into how they might perform in their role or how well they will adjust to the company culture. You'll be able to find high-potential employees who are more willing to stay with your organization long-term because you'll have a better understanding of who they are professionally and personally. As with a resume, the hiring managers at your company can use the pre-employment test answers as a guide, but having an overall hiring plan that uses several ways to assess candidates will result in better hires.

How pre-employment tests work

You can ask a candidate to take a pre-hire assessment test before the interview, after the interview, or at any time during the hiring process. The hiring team can determine when it's appropriate to ask the candidate to take the test. You should have a way for the potential employee to take the test online, but give them a time and date to complete it so they understand there's a deadline. Once they complete the test, you can look at the results to decide whether the candidate is a good match for the role and the company.

Types of pre-employment tests

What you're looking for in a candidate won't necessarily be the same traits that your competitor is seeking, so you'll want to research the different types of pre-employment tests available to learn more about them and which one might work best for your organization. If you find that one test didn't give you the information you needed to hire the right person, you can try another test the next time you need to source new talent. Here's a list of the most common types of pre-employment tests and what they assess:

Personality tests

Pre-employment personality tests are commonly used by employers to assess a candidate's communication skills, social skills, and how they work under pressure. A personality assessment can provide a more objective view of a candidate by allowing an employer to look at provided answers and compare them to answers that others who may still be working for the company have given. This may eliminate bias in the hiring process because the questions are standardized and so are the answers you want to see.

Skills tests

It's important to know if a potential employee has the hard and soft skills to perform the tasks the role requires. You can use the information they provide on their resume, but combining that with a pre-employment skills test can give you a better picture of what the candidate can do. The skills tests should have questions that relate to the specific role you're hiring for and the types of skills that will suit them well at your organization.

"The answers a candidate gives on their pre-employment test will provide insight into how they might perform in their role or how well they will adjust to the company culture."

Situational tests

Pre-employment situational tests can help you understand how a candidate might react in a typical situation that arises at your organization. You can provide the candidate with scenarios that either have happened or could happen at your company. From their answers, you can determine if they would handle a situation appropriately. These examples can help you understand the types of questions that might appear in a situational test:

  • You just saw an employee put cash in their pocket that a customer gave them for merchandise. How do you proceed?
  • A customer is yelling at you because they didn't receive their order before another customer who arrived after them. What can you do to appease the customer?
  • You've just been told that your lunch break will now only be 30 minutes long instead of an hour, which cuts into your gym time. Can you convince your manager to keep your break time an hour?

Job knowledge tests

Candidates who know their job and have the skills and knowledge to perform it well are an asset. However, you won't know if someone has the right knowledge to do their job unless you hire them—or give them a test to assess their job knowledge. Typically, you'll provide a candidate with a task that they'll need to do regularly in their role or something that may be challenging about the job to new hires. If they can complete the test, you'll know they can do the job if you hire them.

Assessing potential employees using pre-employment tests can help your organization source top talent and reduce employee turnover. When employees enjoy their job and fit well with your company culture, they're less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere. Let CareerBuilder help you create a hiring plan so you can find high-quality candidates to fill your empty positions.

Read more about the hiring process

Sourcing candidates will be much faster when you put these tips into action.

Use these tips to update your hiring strategy so it's more effective and efficient.

You need to know which interview questions are illegal before you meet with the next potential candidate.

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