Companies large and small use pre-employment tests to help find the right candidates before hiring, so you might think its a good idea, too. You are right. It is a good idea. At least, if the testing is done correctly and with the right expectations. If it isn’t, like most things, it will end up being a frustrating waste of time and money.

Get your new pre-employment testing program off the ground the right way with these five “Need to Know” facts from our pre-employment testing experts.
1. They’re most effective as part of a larger hiring process.
“On the walls of the cave, only the shadows are the truth.” -Plato

Pre-employment tests are generally an effective, valid means of predicting a job candidate’s future performance.

A motivated person who seeks to distort the truth, however, can seem outstanding on the test report, then leave you confused when they are cleaning out their desk and you are cleaning up their mess.

Every new hire is like an investigation. Test results are just one piece of “evidence” – you need to gather other evidence to come to a conclusion on whether it will be a good hire. If you make decisions only on the impression the candidate gives you, your hires will be less effective in the long run.

Key Takeaway: Combine resume, test results, references, interviews, and any other available information to make a well-rounded, informed decision.
2. People will “fake good”. Test anyway.

If you are worried that candidates will lie, or “fake good”, on their pre-employment test, don’t be. Some people are hard-wired to make themselves look good, and that’s not always a bad thing.

Positive impression management is part of the real world. People tend to dress up, say the right thing, and do the right thing in order to be successful, even if that’s not the person they are at home on weekends. “Faking good” is part of the fabric of the real world, and in some cases, an expectation. For some jobs or workplaces, it may even be encouraged or a part of the company culture.

Believe it or not, sometimes faking good is a predictor of performance!

If any of your candidates are “faking good” but, when hired, will never live up to their test results, you can often determine their dishonesty by looking for disconnects when taking them through the hiring process. Test was fantastic, resume looks great, but references just didn’t match up? Make sure to base your hiring decision on all the factors to sort the real deal from the pretenders.

Key Takeaway: Have healthy expectations about candidates who may “fake good”. And, as mentioned above, compare all of the information available to you about that candidate before making a hiring decision.
3. Remember, not all tests are valid for use in the workplace.
As an employer, it’s your job to ensure your hiring processes are legal. If you elect to hire using a pre-employment test that isn’t valid, you could find yourself in hot water.

Before using a pre-employment test, or selecting a pre-employment testing vendor, ask yourself these questions:

    • Does your testing provider have formal documentation?
    • Do they have publications?
    • Do they have a technical manual?
    • Are you able to “look under the hood” and see if your supplier is credible?

Key Takeaway: Don’t touch a test until you see the validity information. If it’s not valid and/or may violate EEOC guidelines, don’t use it and put your business in danger.
4. Pre-employment tests are the most inexpensive part of your hiring toolkit if you use them right.
Testing has an amazing value when you have lots of candidates and need to narrow the pool down to only the ones who demonstrate a fit for the job.

Consider the cost of conducting an interview. You are paying the wages of the interviewer, and possibly losing productivity from them if interviewing is interrupting their usual tasks. That cost becomes exponentially higher if you need to host an interviewee from out of town. You could easily spend $1000 or more to interview a single candidate. If an interview is one of the first steps in your hiring process, imagine how quickly 20 candidates could run up the bill to $20,000!

Alternatively, using on-demand testing from a company like ourselves, it might cost $35 per test, totaling $700 for 20 candidates. If you are able to narrow the pool down to 5 who show the most promise, you could keep interview costs down to $5000. Between testing and interviewing, you’ll have spent only $5700.
Or don’t test at all and increase the odds of hiring one wrong person for $60,000/year! The value of pre-employment testing is clear when you look at the numbers.

Key Takeaway: Test your entire pool of candidates to narrow the pool down to the best fits for the job.
5. If you don’t know what you are REALLY hiring for, no pre-employment test will predict a good fit.

How well do you know your company’s needs? Do you know exactly what you need from each and every employee?

Every person, job, and company is different, and what constitutes “performance” can change dramatically depending on the workplace. A candidate who reads like a high performer on their test results may not be a high performer at all in your organization.

If you are testing personality, you need to know what your business needs in a new hire. Although dimensions like conscientiousness and emotional stability (specifically, work drive) are linked to successful candidates across the board, you may hire wrong if you don’t have the right expectations of other facets. A candidate’s extraversion, openness, or agreeableness, for example, may be just fine in lower levels at many organizations. If an employee will be required to work alone most of their time, for instance, a high-scoring candidate in extraversion will be miserable and more likely to quit the job within the first year!

Key Takeaway: Do a job analysis before you test candidates and make sure you hire based on the specific needs of the role, not high test scores alone.