What is Pre-Hire Testing?
Pre-hire testing or pre-hire assessment is the process of using various questionnaires to screen candidates for job openings. These tests typically measure areas such as cognitive ability, critical thinking skills, personality, work preferences, and motivation.
The use of hiring assessments is on the rise. Nearly 60% of companies use some type of assessment in their pre-hire process (Aberdeen Strategy & Research). Companies use these hiring assessments as a more quantifiable way of evaluating candidates. According to the publisher of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test, 88% of the Fortune 500 companies use their personality test as a way to screen candidates and predict future success.
Why Should We Use Pre-Hire Testing?
So why are so many companies adopting the use of standardized pre-hire testing and hiring assessments? Isn’t a few rounds of phone interviews and on-site meetings enough? As it turns out, according to a CareerBuilder survey, 75% of employers have discovered a lie on applicants’ resumes. Falsehoods include claiming credit for projects the candidate wasn’t actually involved in and exaggerating skills and accomplishments. The in-person interview gives the hiring committee a relatively quick, surface-level view of the candidate as a potential employee and is a better measure of the employee’s charisma and persuasive power than actual job performance . References provided to employers as a part of the background check process are often friends of candidates who do little to verify the candidate’s actual qualifications and personality traits. Because of this, many employers have adopted a customized approach to interviews, often including a brief project, test, or working “case study” as a part of the hiring process. The problem with simply using tests, projects, and case studies is that they only measure the candidate’s performance in one instance, on one project, and in the artificial environment/situation that is created when a candidate is under pressure to “impress” the hiring manager. Tests and case studies don’t truly show the full picture of the candidate, nor do they capture whether the candidate is likely to succeed and stay in the role.
Pre-hire testing enables companies to screen for more than just charisma and interviewing skills. The process also helps turn the search for the right candidate into more than just ticking a checklist of skills and qualifications. Hiring assessments can evaluate a range of applicable skills and personality traits including:
- Cognitive ability
- Strategic thinking
- Subject-area knowledge
- Problem-solving ability
- Organizational skills
- Analytical acumen
- People skills
Keep that New Hire and Reduce Your Turnover Rate
The second part of hiring the right candidate is making sure you select someone who will be happy with and stay in the position. Employees who aren’t the right personality fit for a job can result in lower engagement in the role, which leads to lower productivity, higher turnover, and ultimately higher costs for your company. We’ve all seen the statistics that emphasize how expensive and time-consuming it is to hire, train, and then replace an employee who leaves. Bad hires cost companies a lot of money.
With hiring assessments, you can test for personality traits and soft skills that are strong indicators of a candidate’s personality fit with both the role and the overall organization. The results can show you whether a candidate is likely to stay in the role and fit in with the company culture. If preserving your company culture (or improving it) is a priority, pre-hire assessments can also show you which candidates are likely to supplement your existing culture or help to create the culture you are striving for.
Hiring the right candidate is especially important when you’re looking for people managers and roles that work across multiple departments since personalities and work styles very often affect the overall retention rate of the rest of your employees. We all know that when someone who isn’t the right fit is hired, the overall morale of the department and retention of affected teams can drop. That’s definitely something you want to avoid!
Many other factors and personality traits can help predict if a candidate will be the right fit for a position and company, including:
- Passion for learning
- Sense of urgency or timeliness
- Passion for the profession / overall ambition
- Ownership and initiative
- Company and culture fit
- Communication skills
- Intelligence / critical thinking
- Teamwork / collaboration
- Project management skills
These hard and soft skills aren’t always obvious and are difficult to screen for during a standard interview. That’s why many companies have adopted pre-hire testing and hiring assessments to select the best candidates.
Types of Test or Assessments
Dozens of tests, both paid and free, are available for companies that choose to conduct pre-hire assessments. We’ve outlined a few here.
- Wonderlic – Wonderlic includes scientifically validated tests that screen for a variety of traits and give you that “whole person” view of a candidate. Wonderlic screens for cognitive ability; critical thinking; motivation potential; personality and integrity; and overall knowledge and skills. The tests measure learning styles and gauge how quickly candidates can grasp concepts and make sense of them. The questions aren’t “leading,” making it a hard test to game or cheat. It’s also been a proven method for predicting job performance.
- Talogy – Talogy’s Caliper Profile has been around for nearly 60 years and focuses mostly on personality, measuring strengths, motivations, and potential to succeed. The test provides insight into a candidate’s natural tendencies, behaviors, and preferences as well as how they interact with other people, their overall attitudes at work, and their approaches to problem-solving.
- The Predictive Index – The Predictive Index includes workforce, behavioral, and job assessments, as well as cognitive tests that provide insight into what drives your candidates, how quickly they can get up to speed, and how likely they are to adequately fill the role that is needed in your company.
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator – The MBTI is perhaps one of the best-known personality tests and is usually used in a psychological framework for people to better understand themselves and how they interact with and view the world.
- Plum – Plum offers pre-hire assessments that incorporate a full spectrum of behavior and intelligence. Their tests include measures of performance, problem-solving, social intelligence, stability, enthusiasm, compassion, and other hard and soft skills. Plum’s website mentions that they built their test to be harder to “game” for a better score.
- 16Personalities – The 16Personalities test is an assessment similar to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator that tests for a person’s overall worldview and behavioral traits. It’s useful for evaluating a candidate’s interests, opinions, and typical habits.
- SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire – This questionnaire has been around for more than 40 years and gives you an idea of how certain behaviors can affect a candidate’s performance at work. The questions cover areas including people skills, thinking style, feelings, and emotions. Different versions of reports for the test depend on your company’s goals.
- DISC personality testing – The disc assessment tests for a candidate’s dominant traits based on four factors: Dominant (D), Influential (I), Steady (S), and Compliant (C). The test can help you better understand a candidate’s overall work behavior and ability to enhance a team. This test, however, isn’t normalized – meaning you won’t be able to compare scores between candidates.
Choosing the Right Test
If you want to choose the right test, you’ll need to keep a few factors in mind. The first thing to understand is exactly what information your company or hiring managers are looking for. Depending on the team you are hiring for or the industry your company is in, you may need a different type of test to address your varying needs. A company hiring senior-level executives in the technology industry, for example, will likely be more focused on screening candidates for cognitive ability and overall personality traits. A company in the food and beverage industry will generally be more focused on screening candidates for certain behavioral factors such as sociability, timeliness, and conscientiousness.
As a general rule of thumb, regardless of the type of test you choose, you should find a pre-hire assessment that is:
- Normative – You should have the ability to compare candidates’ scores.
- Reliable – The test should be a proven predictor of job performance. If a candidate re-takes the test, they should score similarly, and these scores should be validated indicators of performance.
- Hard to Game – Answers to the test should not be easily found online, and the test should be an accurate assessment of actual skills and behavioral traits.
- Candid – The test should be designed in such a way that candidates can be screened for overall honesty. There should be no “leading” questions.
How to Conduct Pre-Hire Assessments
You can conduct pre-hire assessments at various stages in the interview process, depending on the needs of your company. The most common stages are:
- After the 1st or 2nd phone screen and before the 1st on-site or video interview
- After the 1st onsite or video interview and before the 2nd
- After the 2nd on-site or video interview and before the offer phase
- During the 1st or 2nd on-site or video interview
- During the offer phase with the offer contingent on acceptable results
So, there you have it! What are your current pre-hire assessment needs? Paycor has a full-featured applicant tracking system designed by recruiters for every stage of the hiring process. We’ve been in your shoes, tried out a ton of products, and we’ve added integrations to the best of the best.
Hire Faster & Smarter with Paycor Recruiting
Finding, interviewing, and hiring talented people are the most important challenges businesses face, especially in today’s world. Paycor Recruiting is a solution designed and built by recruiters for recruiters and HR hiring teams to help you solve your hiring problems and optimize your recruiting process.