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Pros and cons of pre-employment tests in the recruiting process

Article by Arianna Lupi - Digital Marketer

In recruitment, it’s essential that you’re hiring the right person for the job. As obvious as it sounds, that doesn’t always happen. For some businesses, recruitment isn’t a regular occurrence, particularly for small businesses and start-ups that may be doing their first hires. That’s where pre-employment tests come into the mix.

With pre-employment tests, you can challenge your candidates and gather vital intel that can influence the right decision being made when filling the role or roles required.

In this guide, you’ll get an insight into pre-employment tests and the pros and cons that come with using them in the recruitment process. There’s also plenty of ways to improve your existing recruitment methods to ensure maximum success for future roles you hire for.

What are pre-employment tests?

Pre-employment tests are a great way of gathering data on candidates. This is important information to acquire during the hiring process as it can help make a more informed decision on who the recruiters feel is best for the job.

These tests are somewhat dependent on the type of job you’re recruiting for. For example, you may be recruiting for a programming role and therefore something like a python programming test may be suitable. For others, it could be a scenario-based test for a receptionist role or a design test for a graphic design role.

Whilst you don’t want these tests to take hours to complete, they should be extensive enough that it provides you with the information you require. Pre-employment tests can show the relevancy that the candidate has for the job and their ability to perform it for real in the workplace.

Not everyone enjoys tests or examinations but it’s a crucial element to a recruitment process that is too good of an opportunity to not conduct. It can tell you more about the candidate than just a sit-down interview or reading a resume would do.

The pros of pre-employment tests

There are many benefits of using pre-employment tests to give a reason for using them in your own recruitment process. 

  1. Lower turnover rates for staff

You never want to lose top-quality staff members and when you use pre-employment tests, you’ll likely lower the chances of that happening. According to research conducted by the Aberdeen Group, those companies that use pre-hire assessment tests will report a 39% lower turnover rate.

Recruitment is costly, it’s not only draining on your money but it’s also taking up a lot of resources too. You may have multiple staff members conducting the recruitment process and that means their working day is being sacrificed.

With lower turnover rates, it doesn’t slow down the business and the progress that it could be making with all its staff happy and right for their positions.

  1. Tests are more objective than other areas of the recruitment process

With other areas of the recruitment process like the interviews themselves, resume screenings, etc, they’re not as objective as the pre-employment tests. With pre-employment tests, depending on the role, there are certain criteria to meet and evidence that the recruitment team will be looking for.

It’s, therefore, more relative to the job that’s being hired for, rather than it being a generic interview process. Each test will work differently because they’ve been designed specifically for the role and the desired outcome of information is more likely to appear as a result.

Pre-employment tests whilst requiring more planning and effort, are a good return on the investment of your resources.

  1. Offers a fair opportunity as everyone gets the same test

With pre-employment tests, everyone gets the same test. It means everyone has a fair opportunity, rather than it being favored to certain candidates in particular. An example of this might be screening calls and interviews that are unstructured. Your recruiters may unintentionally spend more time asking questions with one candidate than another. 

It’s very easy for personal opinion and bias to seep into the recruitment process so tests can help remove that bias and give everyone an even playing field. There’s no getting away from the results that are in front of you because everyone has had the same opportunity to complete the test to the best of their ability.

  1. Reduces the timeline of your hiring process

Even though it’s important to spend your time with the recruitment process, the timeline of creating a job description, assessing resumes, and interviewing candidates can be a long one. 

With pre-employment tests, there’s a lot of data and information that you can gather during these examinations. It means that whilst you may still need to do a structured/unstructured interview, you may not need multiple interview stages.

It’s important to be wary of how long you make the recruitment process for the candidates too as they may find themselves getting bored or put off by it. It’s a fine balance of getting enough information to make a decision and going overboard.

  1. It can tell you more about the person you’re hiring

Some pre-employment tests can focus on who the person is and what drives them within the workplace. As a test, you might get them to write down what they look for in a company, whether that be the benefits package to personal morals and values. It may give you more insight into what your business is lacking that goes beyond just this hiring process. 

For example, many companies are missing certain benefits or they may find giving back initiatives important to their employees. This donation matching program guide may be something to look at if potential candidates mention this need for their employment in the test.

The cons of pre-employment tests

There are some negatives to pre-employment tests which are worth mentioning. As with any process you put in place, you should always assess the potential negative impact it could have on the hiring process.

  1. Tests don’t always give the full picture.

Whilst tests can help you shorten the interview process, it doesn’t always provide you with the full picture. You may find that certain gaps are missing in the test that can only be answered with a follow-up interview. 

Other candidates may underperform on the tests and do better within an interview environment. It’s good to remember every candidate may be different in how they perform and react in an examination setting.

  1. Tests can invite

If there’s a way that candidates can lie, then some people will do it. For example, on resumes, 40% of people will lie. That’s quite a substantial percentage that you need to be aware of when it comes to the pre-employment tests.

Of course, everyone wants to portray themselves in the best light and so it can often be found that candidates will expand the truth. Try to take the tests themselves with a pinch of salt, rather than them being absolute in their findings.

  1. Tests can be vague in their results

Some tests depending on how they’re presented and who they’re for can often be ambiguous in their findings. It may provide some additional knowledge but it might not be enough to warrant removing a part of the interview process as a result.

Make sure that the tests are specific and do enough to ensure a maximum amount of data and findings is pulled.

Tips to improve the recruitment process

There are other ways you can improve the recruitment process and always improving your hiring will ensure you get the best employees each and every time.

Look at your job descriptions before hitting submit

Publishing your job roles on multiple platforms can be helpful in accruing as many candidates as possible. However, just like assessing these advertising platforms to make sure they’re right, the same needs to be done for your job descriptions.

Make sure you assess the job descriptions properly to ensure you get the right people applying for the job. Otherwise, you may have to start the whole process again!

Get personal with your interview questions

Don’t forget to ask some personal questions in the interview. No, we don’t mean finding out whether they have any skeletons in the closet but moreso about who they are outside of the workplace. 

What are their hobbies? What would they say about how friends and family would describe them. These are great questions to know more about the candidates personally than just professionally.

Offer feedback and request feedback

Don’t forget feedback. Feedback is a great way of knowing how well you did in the interview too, not just how well the candidate performed. Where you’re able to, give feedback for the candidate if they didn’t get the role and ask all candidates to fill in a feedback form. That way, you can get tips on how to improve your interviewing methods.

Pre-employment tests can be beneficial if done correctly

Whilst pre-employment tests do have their downsides, if it’s done correctly, they can be of great advantage to those recruiting the staff. They provide insightful data and remove any personal opinions from the mix, allowing for a fairer process for all involved.

    Arianna is a passionate and dedicated Digital Marketer with a strong background in travel, education, B2B, SaaS, technology and CPG. She's currently an SEO Manager at Skale Arianna loves solving problems, creating strategies, and building plans. In 2018, Arianna joined Unilever and was responsible for creating a voice search optimization strategy for their SEO and E-commerce channels.

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