(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is sponsored by Criteria Corp, a leading provider of pre-employment testing services. Their testing system, HireSelect, is a SaaS (software as a service) solution that enables organizations to increase recruiting effectiveness using state-of-the-art technology. Criteria Corp has clients in all 50 U.S. states and 30 countries. Enjoy the post!)
Pre-employment testing has grown steadily over the past decade, with almost seventy percent (68%) of organizations conducting some form of job skill testing, according to the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP). While no pre-employment test can guarantee the perfect employee, they have been proven to successfully predict behavior and that’s important. In today’s competitive talent market, organizations just cannot afford to make poor hiring decisions.
Better hiring decisions translate into a better quality of hire, increased employee engagement, and longer retention. Whether you’re considering assessments for the first time or reviewing your current assessments, it’s important to understand the two primary goals of an assessment.
- Assessments need to be valid. Validity means the assessment measures what it’s supposed to and is predictive of job performance.
- Assessments must be reliable. Reliability indicates that the assessment produces consistent results.
Hiring teams are constantly under pressure to deliver the best candidates in a timely manner at the lowest cost per hire. The latest data from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) shows the average cost per hire is $4129 and time to fill is 42 days. Human resources departments should be looking for ways to manage applicant pools and pre-employment tests have become popular tools to do just that, regardless of what’s happening with the unemployment rate.
When the applicant pool is large, pre-employment testing can serve as a filter to help recruiters find individuals who have the necessary skills. When the applicant pool is small, pre-employment testing can help recruiters evaluate skills and make selection decisions.
The 3 Types of Pre-Employment Tests
Determining which test(s) to use is one of the biggest questions organizations face. The answer is connected to “job-relatedness”. Organizations should conduct a job requirements analysis for each position. If you’ve never done one before or are looking for a guideline to assist, the “Resources and Tools” section of the SHRM website offers some forms and templates for creative inspiration.
The job analysis allows employers to determine the most appropriate use for an assessment. Pre-employment tests generally fall into three categories:
- Aptitude: These are qualities every employer is looking for. Examples include critical thinking, problem solving, and learning ability. Research has routinely affirmed that cognitive aptitude is one of the most predictive factors of job performance and long-term success.
- Personality: These assessments aren’t designed to uncover whether candidates can do the job but more whether the candidates will be content and comfortable doing the job. Because they assess “job fit,” personality tests can be helpful for increasing retention. For example, personality assessments include the “Big Five” dimensions of agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, openness to experience, and stress tolerance.
- Skills: These tests measure acquired knowledge and job readiness. Examples are verbal, math, and computer skills. They are generally predictive of short-term success, meaning that the candidate is capable of doing the basic everyday tasks required in the job.
How to Administer Pre-Employment Tests
Once an organization decides on the test(s) they want to use, they must agree where in the recruiting process they want to administer the test. Obviously, cost is a consideration, but remember that time is expensive. The answer to this question will not always be “the fewer tests, the better.”
According Josh Millet, CEO of Criteria Corp, the current trend in the U.S. is to conduct assessments earlier in the process due in part to mobile recruiting. “It’s easier to apply for jobs online, so organizations are creating partnerships with pre-employment testing providers that offer unlimited testing on a subscription basis, as opposed to paying per test. This provides a cost-effective way to test candidates and helps to shorten time to fill so employees can start contributing to the organization faster.”
Organizations should use the results of their job analysis to decide if the test they’ve chosen will help them A) fact find, B) evaluate, or C) select candidates. That will help determine where the test is best positioned in the recruitment process.
Use the Right Test to Get the Right Results
Pre-employment testing plays a valuable role in the recruitment process. But a good testing program must be set up for success by doing a proper analysis, choosing the right test, and using it at the right time in the process. If you want to learn more about pre-employment testing and the positive impact it can have on your hiring process, download Criteria Corp’s Definitive Guide to Pre-Employment Testing. This is a comprehensive guide that you will want to have on the corner of your desk for reference.4