Pre-employment tests are an objective, standardized way of gathering data on candidates during the hiring process. All professionally developed, well-validated pre-employment tests have one thing in common: they are an efficient and reliable means of gaining insights into the capabilities and traits of prospective employees. Depending on the type of test being used, pre-employment assessments can provide relevant information on a job applicant's ability to perform in the workplace. In this environment, pre-employment tests can provide tremendous value for organizations seeking to find the right talent. By adding pre-employment assessments to the candidate selection process, companies of all sizes can get a better handle on the vast pool of candidates applying to open positions. And while technology may be responsible for the increase in applications, it also provides an answer, by making it much simpler to integrate pre-employment testing into the hiring process.
Skills tests measure job-related competencies; broad ones like verbal, math, and communication skills, or narrow ones like typing and computer skills. These are skills that candidates have picked up through their education and career histories – these skills do not necessarily reflect basic aptitude but instead reflect acquired knowledge – what the applicant already knows how to do based on previous experience.
General skills tests (for example, the Criteria Basic Skills Test) that measure overall job readiness skills such as literacy, numeracy, and attention to detail, can be effective predictors of job performance for a wide variety of entry-level positions. Many skills tests, however, measure more specific acquired competencies such as typing speed or knowledge of specific software applications. It is important to realize that such "micro-skills" tests are not designed to predict long-term job performance, as most aptitude and personality tests are; rather, they are intended only as an indicator of a person's current skill level in key job-related competencies.
To maximize the effectiveness of pre-employment testing, one useful strategy is to use more than one type of test. For example, it's very common to test aptitude and personality, or skills and personality. Using more than one test for each candidate allows employers to assess more than one relevant aspect of an applicant, providing more objective, reliable data to streamline the hiring process and make more informed decisions.
How Widespread is Pre-Employment Testing?
The use of pre-employment testing has grown dramatically in recent years. With applicant pools on the rise due to the ease of applying online, hiring managers and recruiters are starting to rely more on data-driven talent management practices that streamline the hiring process. According to surveys done by the American Management Association (AMA), the use of pre-employment testing has been growing steadily in the past fifteen years. The AMA's data revealed that:
70% of employers did some sort of job skill testing
46% of employers use personality and/or psychological tests on applicants or current employees
41% of employers test applicants for basic literacy and math skills
As a result, pre-employment tests should only be one element within a comprehensive set of criteria used to evaluate applicants, including resumes, interviews, job experience, education, and anything else that is relevant for a position. Pre-employment tests provide the most value when applied at the top of the hiring process to screen out candidates who aren't a good fit. Ultimately, however, organizations that use tests are making their final decisions based on many factors, of which tests should be one important component. Companies should expect tests to streamline and improve the hiring process, not replace it.
Resources: Criteria Pre-Emplyment Testing
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