What is pre-employment testing?

Pre-employment testing- The Ultimate Guide

So, your candidates are preparing for their first job or next job, and in most cases, these candidates would be anxious thinking about the interview process. iMocha is a skill assessment platform used by 5000+ companies of all sizes across the world to assess candidates. We understand that giving the best in the test is important for the candidate and your company. Here we have tried to answer some of the common questions that can help your candidates perform well in their upcoming tests.

A pre-employment test is legal if it appropriately screens out protected classes of citizens like minorities, physically challenged individuals, or females and evaluates potential & existing employees only on the topics directly related to the job.

One of the major challenges faced across organizations worldwide is hiring job fit candidates. According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, the average cost of one bad hire is nearly $15000! These statistics point out the need of effectively using pre-employment testing to ensure the right talent is hired for the right job. Pre-employment testing can improve your quality of hire and save time & money. iMocha has curated the best practices for using pre-employment testing that will make recruitment your competitive edge!

Pre-employment testing help organizations cut down time-to-hire and select the most qualified individuals that best fit the job role. However, this can happen only when the pre-employment tests are appropriately selected and monitored with care. It is essential to choose the right tests based on what is required in the job.

Pre-employment testing has become a popular method of assessing candidates in an objective, reliable, and accurate manner. By referring to a massive library of technical and non-technical skill sets that is continuously developed (and optimized), employers can make the right hiring decisions.

There are various types of pre-employment tests wherein each one is associated with a particular need. Some tests are designed to test a person’s physical abilities. Others can be used to measure an individual’s mental prowess. For some tests, the intent is to identify if the person is harmless, whereas, for some tests, the goal is to determine if the person is capable of conforming to a set of behavioral expectations. But when it comes to it, in the end, all these tests can be typically clubbed into three major categories:

Pre-employment tests help companies determine which applicants are most qualified (and suitable) for a particular job role. These tests evaluate the candidates' suitability for a particular role through job-knowledge tests, personality traits, intelligence, and physical ability. Organizations must ensure that their pre-employment tests are compliant with the guidelines provided by EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) and other laws.

iMocha Hiring Trends Report 2022

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Candidate FAQs on pre-employment tests

1. What is the purpose of pre-employment screening?

Pre-employment screening tests are mainly used to identify the right candidate from the talent pool and assess the skills, job readiness, personality traits, and predict future job performance. Pre-employment tests are beneficial for employers as well as candidates. For companies, it has helped recruiters and hiring managers to have better clarity about what they want, provides a relatively high degree of accuracy, saves time and cost. Candidates get the benefit of appearing for the test at any time, at any place and in their own familiar, stress-free environment.

2. What do job assessment tests look for?

Job assessment tests only assess skills according to the job role. That means all the questions will be relevant, and the candidate will be able to answer all those questions. They are not measured on the basis of fail or pass but for competence in the specific job role. In order to identify a job-fit candidate, the employer can assess job-related skills, cognitive ability, personality and culture-fitness of the candidate. So, there might be different types of job assessment tests used to evaluate a candidate. The pre-employment test evaluates the hard skills and soft skills of the applicants. An employer can use one or more combinations of the following tests:

1. Skill tests: These tests evaluate the ‘job-related’ skills of the candidate. The skills may include both soft and hardcore skills that are mandatory to perform the given task. EEOC guidelines suggest that these skill tests must be relevant to the actual job description.

2. Cognitive tests: These tests evaluate the ability of a candidate to gather information, process it, memorize it, and decision-making skills of the candidate.

3. Physical ability tests: These tests evaluate whether the candidate is physically fit to perform job operations that need physical activity.

4. Personality tests: These tests evaluate if the personality of a candidate is more suitable for the success of the job.

5. Background tests: These tests will evaluate the background of the candidate, like employment history, bankruptcy, drug addiction, fraudulence, or criminal offense of the candidate.

6. Language tests: These tests will evaluate the ability of a candidate to communicate (verbally and written) in a specific language.

3. How do I pass a pre-employment assessment?

Employers use pre-employment tests to find the applicants whose skills are best suited for the job position to which they have applied. The pre-employment screening test is conducted at the initial phase of the hiring process to evaluate certain traits of the applicants to predict future performance. To get the dream job in almost every organization, candidates will have to clear the pre-employment assessment. So, to pass an employment assessment, the candidate will have to keep the following things in mind:

1. Consider the job role: With the help of pre-employment testing, employers want to predict if a candidate is a job fit applicant for the open position. They will try to evaluate the candidate's responses to questions that indicate your behavioral characteristics and job readiness.

2. Know what you are being tested on: The test may contain a variety of questions to measure the candidate's job skills, work ethic, work management, time management, ambition, and passion for working for the organization. Once the candidate figures out the intent of the questions, they can respond in a better way.

3. Practice, practice, and practice: Candidates need to gain an understanding of the type of questions that will be asked during the pre-employment assessments. The candidate's test score will lead them to their dream job. How to know the types of questions a screening test will consist of? Here, candidates can refer to various online materials available on pre-employment testing to improve their skills and test performance. With the help of these sources, they can fine-tune their reasoning, logic, and job skills by solving the practice questions and taking lessons from the experts.

4. Be honest: When it comes to personality and psychological screening, candidates shouldn't hide what kind of personality they have. They should avoid manipulating their responses to get a higher ranking or score. Because pretending to be someone else will not help the candidate pass this section of the tests. The pre-employment tests contain a few questions specifically designed to detect applicants manipulating their responses. Employers can always prefer another criterion for selecting their employees.

4. How long does an assessment test take?

The answer to this question depends on the type of assessment and the number of questions. There is no standard time mention for completing the test. The stipulated time for a pre-employment assessment is generally shared with an invitation the candidate receives from the employer.

5. Is pre-employment testing legal?

Yes. Pre-employment testing is legal. It's not about the test but about the implementation of the test that needs to be carefully observed. Pre-employment testing, Section 703(h) of the Act suggests that an employer asking for the test or assessment is totally fair, but the test should not include any discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender, religion, or the age of the candidate appearing for the test.

The use of third-party pre-employment tests is legal, and it's also beneficial in the interest of both employers and employees. Employers can avoid issues from the right to privacy by outsourcing assessment to third-party. In this way, an employer cannot access the candidate's responses but only the end result of the testing. This eliminates the possibility of bias.

Candidate FAQs on pre-employment drug screening

1. How long does it take to get drug test results for employment?

The time required for drug test results depends on the result of the drug testing. It usually takes 24 hours for the test results. If tests are positive, the medical review officer may perform a second round of drug testing to ensure the results are not false positives. This may take another 4-5 days.

Drug Testing: This process may take 4-5 days if the results of tests are positive.

Saliva Testing: This process may take 1-3 days to attain the results.

Hair Testing: Hair testing can detect drug usage until 90 days before the test date. This process takes 2-3 days to complete.

Urine Testing: In the case of a negative urine test, it takes 2-3 days. A positive urine test may extend this process to 4-5 days.

Blood Testing: Blood testing results are available within 24hrs of testing. In case of a positive test, it may take 2-3 days to complete the results.

The candidate must share the medications currently in use, including prescription, over the counter or herbal medications. The candidate also needs to provide information about the prescriber and proof of prescription for reference.

2. What happens the candidate fails a pre-employment drug test?

In the case of a government job, they will reject the employment offer if the drug testing results are positive. If a job is critical for the safety of the people, it is mandatory for the employers to reject employment to candidates with positive drug test results as per drug free workplace act of USA.

For most private companies, it is not mandatory to levy drug testing laws. But private companies in some states are rewarded for implementing drug-free workplaces.

3. Do employers inform the candidate if they have passed the drug test?

Drug testing is considered to be more personal, and a special process is followed while performing a drug test.

In the case of candidates, employers need to issue a notice to candidates that a drug test is needed for the job and a list of drug tests to be conducted. Candidate needs to sign a release at the time of the drug test so that employers get a copy of the result. If the candidate passes a drug test, employers will invite them for further process. If employers want to reject a candidate based on a negative drug test, they will have to share a copy of the drug test results with the candidate.

In the case of employees, access to drug test results varies based on whether the employer needs to maintain medical report records or not. If employees are exposed to harmful drugs and medical records are maintained by the company, in this case, employees have access to their results. Occupational safety and health administration (OSHA) explains various use cases of access to employee exposure and medical records standards in detail.

4. How can candidates pass an employment psychological test?

Employers use psychological tests to see if the candidate’s character traits are best suited for the job. Although there is no right or wrong method to pass personality tests, candidates can try a few things that might help them with their tests.

Practice Test:

Some platforms allow your candidates to practice psychological tests. However, the actual assessment tests will not be similar to these practice tests, but your candidates will get an idea about the type of questions asked in a personality test.

Think according to job role:

Your candidate can consider the job role and think about the traits that can help to be successful in the job. E.g., suppose your candidate is applying for a customer support role. In that case, there might be questions that can gauge their ability to solve problems, patience while handling critical situations, and communication skills. So when attempting these questions, be aware that the employer is looking for these traits, and the candidate has to respond accordingly. It is always good, to be honest with your personality and reflect on that while responding to questions.

Avoid stress:

Candidates might feel stressed while appearing for the personality tests as they are expected to open up about their personality. This can put them under tremendous pressure and hamper their responses. So, they have to try to be relaxed and confident while attempting questions. This will improve their chances of getting genuine responses to the situation-based questions.

Candidate FAQs on pre-employment background screening

1. What is included in a pre-employment background check?

A pre-employment background check is performed to validate the information provided by the candidate. This may include an employment check, drug test, credit check, and education check. A pre-employment background check is mainly done through a third party or, in some cases, by the company itself. Employers can perform one or more combinations of the following background checks.

Employment check: For an experienced candidate, the employer may check their previous work history, date of joining and leaving, or the reason for leaving the organization. Employers try to find a candidate's behavior in the past organization. An employer may ask the candidate to provide references from the organization or personal references.

Drug testing: Employers may check the candidates for drug consumption. An employer can ask a candidate for a drug test after providing a conditional offer. If the results of drug tests are positive, they might lose their employment offer.

Criminal background check: Employers run a check on the candidate's criminal records to ensure the candidate doesn't have any criminal record in the past.

Credit Background Check: Employers perform a credit check to see a candidate's credit-to-debt ratio, bankruptcy, or fraudulence.

2. How does a background check verify employment?

An employment check is performed to verify the information given by the candidate about past employment and salary is true. An employer may check the start and end dates of employment, the reason for leaving the job and candidates. Employment check can be helpful in identifying true work experience of the candidate. An employment background check can be done through various ways as mentioned below.

Inquiry to HR department:

An employer can contact the HR department of a previous company and ask about the feedback. The employer sometimes appoints a third party background check company to verify the information.

Professional references:

Employers may ask for personal or professional references to contact and verify the previous employment. Here, the candidate might have to provide a reference for each employment. The candidate can list one or more colleagues from their workplace or educational mentor or personal references.

Apart from this, employer can build their own contact list for references and verify the details mentioned in the resume.

Candidate FAQs on Pre-employment physical tests

1. What do they do at a pre-employment physical?

It’s an important part of the hiring process and employee benefits for every organization. Pre-employment physical basically ensures the current health status and physical well-being of the new hires.

The pre-employment medical check consists of the following steps, but they may change as per the job role and need.

1. Complete medical & physical examination

2. Laboratory investigations

  • Complete blood count
  • Blood sugar test (usually fasting)
  • Urine routine & microscopy
  • Blood group & Rh factor

3. X-Ray chest

4. ECG

5. Lipid profile

6. Kidney function test

7. Liver function test

8. Optional tests

  • HIV
  • HBsAg (Hepatitis)
2. Can a candidate fail their pre-employment physical test?

It’s a very rare situation when applicants do not get through pre-employment physical or medical examinations due to health issues and previous injuries. The organization will not exclude the candidate because of their health issues. Only health problems that affect the specific needs of the job role will be taken into consideration.

An organization cannot reject an applicant based on the pre-employment test that tells their disability which is not going to hamper the job performance. Suppose the applicant is fit for the open job. According to the EEOC guidelines, organizations need to make necessary changes to the workplace to support the applicant to perform the job.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces employment laws, and these laws affect almost every aspect of the hiring process. It also provides an "Employment Tests and Selection Procedures" fact sheet to inform employers of pre-employment legal issues.

The pre-employment test should eliminate biases and improve the legal defensibility of the hiring process. According to the EEOC pre-employment testing laws, it's illegal to discriminate based on race, color, religion, age, sex, disability, and nationality.

Introduction to EEOC laws

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces pre-employment testing laws that prohibit the use of pre-employment tests which discriminate against potential and existing employees.

Laws enforced by EEOC -

1. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act-

According to this law, employers can't discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, and age. The amended Title VII makes it illegal to discriminate against a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.

2. Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act-

According to this law, it's illegal to discriminate against a qualified person with a disability in the private sector and state and local governments. Under this act, employers can't use a way of pre-employment screening which supports discrimination of qualified candidates based on their mental and physical disability.

3. Age Discrimination in Employment Act-

The law says employers can't use pre-employment screening tests to discriminate against people 40 or older. The law makes it illegal if the employer uses a pre-employment test for people older than 40 when all individuals are not required to take the same test. The Age Discrimination Law also prohibits screening processes that disproportionately affect applicants aged 40 years and older, even if the test is necessary for all individuals. To help you understand things better, iMocha has compiled a checklist that is easy to understand and use. You can view the checklist below or download it for your future reference.
To help you understand things better, iMocha has compiled a checklist that is easy to understand and use. You can view the checklist below or download it for your future reference.

EEOC compliance checklist

Pre-employment testing not only helps employers assess applicants' job-specific skills but also adds to the employers' legal defensibility. To ensure legal defensibility, you must check the Validity and Reliability of Assessments.

1.1 Validity:

Validity is the degree to which the pre-employment screening test assesses what it purports to assess and how well it evaluates the applicants' competencies.

  • Validity identifies if the characteristic being measured by a test is related to job qualifications and requirements
  • Validity helps you to make a decision or prediction about people based on their test performance
  • Validity tells you how good a pre-employment test is for a particular job role

Types of Validity:

i. Construct validity:

It ensures that the pre-employment test measures only the intended characteristics and no other variables. In other words, you measure a trait or skill that is part of the overall desired skill needed for success on the job. To measure the construct validity, you would look at the scores from the assessment correlated with scores from other established tests that measure the same characteristics.

ii. Content validity:

It ensures that the content of a test is relevant and measures the requirements and qualifications for the job role. If you were hiring for a job that required the ability to transcribe content, testing for the rate at which the candidate types would be high regarding content-related validity.

iii. Criterion validity:

It indicates that the test demonstrates a correlation or other statistical relationship between test performance and job performance. Those who score high on the test tend to perform better on the job.

1.2 Reliability:

Test reliability depends on how consistently the test measures the skills required for a specific job role. A test can be considered reliable if a person appears for it repeatedly and the results are similar for every attempt.

Types of reliability:

i. Test-retest reliability:

Indicates repeatability obtained by giving the same test twice at different timings to a group of applicants.

For example, if a test is designed to assess the technical skills given to a set of applicants twice in two weeks, the results obtained from the two attempts will indicate the reliability of the test.

ii. Alternate or parallel form reliability:

Indicates the stability of the test after administering different forms of a pre-employment test.

For example, to check if the logical reasoning test is reliable, create a set of questions that will evaluate the logical reasoning and divide the test into two parts. The outcome of both sets should be similar. If they are the same, it means all the items measure the same characteristics and can be used interchangeably.

iii. Inter-rater reliability:

The test is likely reliable if two or more raters give the same score and make the same assessment decision. Inter-rater reliability is useful because the evaluators will not interpret the same results; raters may disagree on how well certain responses of the constructor skill are being assessed.

iv. Internal consistency reliability:

The test is reliable if the different characteristics of the test yield similar results.

Pre-employment testing practices that fairly and lawfully assesses candidates
1. All assessment instruments are unbiased and fair to all groups

The content of each question is not biased and is not offensive concerning race, religion, national origin, sex, etc. We ensure this through a robust validation process and is compliant with EEOC pre-employment testing guidelines.

2. Use pre-employment practices that have been considered valid and reliable

Every job role requires specific skills/competencies to perform the assigned tasks in an effective way. A valid and reliable test measures the job skills, it claims to evaluate consistently or reliably. The test contains valid questions related to job qualifications and requirements and yields similar results even if the person appears again for the test.

3. Employers are not permitted to adjust or change the scores

The iMocha platform ensures that no manipulation in test score is possible. The system calculates a score in real-time. The score is shared with the hiring manager and test taker simultaneously. For manual evaluation, we maintain an audit trail for all the changes to the score.

4. Data Security

iMocha does not request or store any PII (Personally identifiable information) data of test-takers. Through strong data protection mechanisms, we ensure the protection of test taker’s professional details and scores.

5. Suitability of testing conditions for all test takers

Each assessment test is validated before it is made available. Validation is done regarding relevance, technical performance on various testing platforms, and user experience.

To select the right pre-employment testing you must consider these 2 steps:

1. Find the type of test you need

2. Evaluate the pre-employment testing tool

1. Find the type of test you need

There are several types of pre-employment tests. It is likely that you want to find out just about everything about the candidate (her skill levels, her personality traits, culture fit, learnability, aptitude, etc.) However, too many tests can make your hiring process longer, and it would be tough to keep the candidates engaged throughout the lengthy hiring process. It is also likely that many good candidates might just leak out from your pipelines.

So, we always suggest a minimalistic approach, unless absolutely necessary. Check only those aspects that are extremely important and test the most fundamental qualities to assess the candidate job-fit.

Ask yourself - what are the most important attributes that the job demands - technical skills, learning ability, aptitude, technical knowledge, emotional intelligence, or cultural fit? Define the tests based on that.

Have a realistic approach when you choose the type of pre-employment tests and set a bar of what you want to expect out of the results. The above image shows the correlation of various types of tests with job performance.

2. Evaluate the pre-employment assessment vendors?

Detail checklist to evaluate your pre-employment assessment vendor :

Assessment vendors Evaluation Checklist

1. No. of skills provided by the vendor

Check your requirements by looking into the future

 i. Are all the skill assessments I’m looking for available?

 ii. If not, can the vendor make specific assessments?

 iii. Will the vendor create custom-tailored assessments?

 iv. If yes, how fast can they do this?

2. Quality of Assessments

Quality is a subjective matter, it gets difficult to ascertain the quality of the tests, especially if you are not an expert of the technology you are hiring for. During the evaluation you can ask the tech experts or the hiring managers can spend some time with the questions to select the right test for the applicants, and benchmarking them would be a good idea to set the right score expectations from the candidates. Another good practice to improve the quality of the test is to ask your candidates’ themselves…

i. What do my best employees think about the quality of the questions?

ii. What is the average test score of my high performing employees

iii. Can the vendor’s SME guide you in understanding the science of assessments?

iv. Can experts help you in creating the right assessments according to job role?

v. Is skill tests created by Subject Matter Experts?

vi. Do they charge to speak to an expert?

vii. Are questions available on Google?

viii. Are the questions too easy or too difficult to solve

ix. Are the questions easy to comprehend

x. Are the tests EEOC compliant

xi. Is the candidates’ feedback taken after each test?

3. Tests Customizability

Every job-role & responsibilities are different, and generalizing your tests can be harmful. Assesses the tool on the following -

i. Do you need to give different assessments to the same candidate to assess his skills set

ii. Can you combine multiple skills into one single test

iii. Can you adjust the question difficulty level according to the expertise level desired in the job - position

iv. Can you add your own questions to the test

v. Can you upload your own questions in one go?

4. Ease of Use

Creating software that facilitates a smooth assessment experience isn’t easy for a vendor and using the full potential of software for users requires a lot of time and I’m sure you already have a lot on your plate to work on. So, when it comes to assessment software you will want an easy to use software that can be remotely accessible with easy navigation, invitation and reporting options.

 i. How easy it is to invite a candidate?

ii. Are you able to create assessments quickly?

iii. How easy it is to navigate the software?

iv. Are the reports dynamic or easy to share?

v. Does the platform allow role-based access control?

5. Change in existing workflows

Your skill assessment platform must integrate with the Application Tracking System (ATS) you are currently using. Such tight integration helps in reducing delays in processing data and hiring the right candidate.

i. Is the software integrated with the ATS I’m using?

ii. How easy it is to integrate with the ATS?

iii. How much time will it take to sync the data with ATS?

iv. Is it possible to invite, assess, share, and view reports within the ATS?

6. Support

A good support team will help you make the best use of the tool. It’s important to know the kind of support you can expect in the future from your vendor.

i. How proactive is the support team?

ii. Is there 24/7 support available?

iii. Is the support available to help you while assessing candidates?

7. Analytics That Matters

Customized performance report that is well organized and summarizes overall strengths and skill gaps of a group of candidates with comparative reports helps in a quick selection of the right candidates.

i. Are reports customizable?

ii. Can I compare candidates?

iii. Do reports provide details of every single skill assessed?

iv. What candidates have to say about the test?

v. Are reports easily shareable?

8. Proctored Assessments

To assess candidates remotely and to have a fair competition you need advanced cheating prevention techniques that facilitate a smooth test experience.

i. Is there an image, audio, and video proctoring feature available?

ii. Can candidates copy questions to google?

iii. Is there a window violation detection?

iv. Can questions be randomized?

v. Is there an option to preselect IP ranges to ensure authentication?

9. Security

Security is one of the top concerns for enterprises and assessment vendors must understand your need for security

i. What are the security compliance guidelines being followed?

ii. Is your data safe with the vendor?

iii. Is the tool EEOC compliance?

iv. Is the GDPR compliant?

v. Is there an option for Single Sign-on?

vi. Is there role-based access control?

10. Employer Branding & Candidate Engagement

The candidates perceive your brand based on the presentation of assessments. White-labeled assessments, along with the fusion of different assessment software features help in strong brand building.

i. Can candidates see your company’s branding while giving an assessment?

ii. Are the assessments fun and quick?

iii. How easy it for the candidate to start the assessment?

iv. Is the whole procedure of assessment easy for candidates?

11. Candidate feedback

You must ask your candidates for their feedback after they complete the test. The feedback can help in improving the test and removing any difficulties that the candidates may have while taking the test.

  1. Is there a mechanism to collect candidate feedback?

Other questions that you can keep in your checklist

Different platforms have different solutions to help a client in candidate assessment. It is recommended that you ask about all such extra solutions.

1. Are there any features or solutions that you may not be aware of?

2. Will you be charged separately for those features or services?

What iMocha provides you?

iMocha is a powerful assessment platform that’s built to help you hire the best candidates faster. In addition to a large skills testing library, we’ve got AI that recognizes when someone else is on the computer, or there’s another human speaking in the background, or any other form of cheating. Here are our detailed benefits:

  • Latest Skill library:
    Ability to create & maintain valid & reliable tests for traditional as well as upcoming skills link to new collar skills.
  • Test multiple skills in one go:
    Highly customizable tests that can combine multiple skills into one test, so that the candidate does not have to appear in multiple tests.
  • Job Simulators:
    Simulation tests such as Coding simulators, SQL simulators, etc makes your life easy by assessing real job skills of applicants.
  • Time & cost-effective testing:
    The tests can evaluate hundreds of applicants in minimum time without investing time and money in lengthy and time-consuming recruitment methods.
  • Cheating prevention
    By using AI-based cheating prevention mechanisms such as image proctoring, video proctoring and window violation you can avoid the wrong practices done by candidates to clear the assessment.
  • Randomization
    Candidates tend to pass on the test questions to their friends/colleagues if you have the same set of questions for a certain job role. With a reliable third-party test provider, you can have controlled randomization of questions which will keep the test difficulty constant but with a random set of questions for each test attempt.
  • Latest version & Technology Stacks:
    Skills are changing fast and many a time you will land up at the standard tests available with most of the vendors, but they are not specific to your company/domain/technology stack? If not, the test will not give you suitable (different word) candidates. We provide content consulting and tweak/create questions to suit your specific job role.
  • Great Candidate experience:
    Vendors that care for candidate experience, seek candidate feedback and provide you actionable insights to further improve the test and the overall testing experience of the candidates.
  • Actionable reports:
    An intelligent testing system that calibrates and provide you insightful reports
  • Integrated with your ATS:
    Integrating with an ATS means creating more value out of your investments.
  • Easy to use:
    Either use pre-built tests or simply give your job description to get a custom-made test specially made for you by the SMEs(Subject Matter Experts).
  • Easy to administer:
    Send a test to invite through mail or simply paste the link on your career page or social media for the candidates.

There is still no definitive way strategizing the hiring process and that's why you will find almost all the companies have different strategies in place. It’s more like a game of chess, with each and every different move, there's an opportunity to win the game in millions of ways and if not millions then definitely a million ways to hire the right candidate. It all depends on your strategies to choose. Pre-employment testing is one of the ways, when to use it will be your choice. So choose wisely.

Given the ability of these tests to assess candidate performance across a wide array of skills, it is with good reason that they are an integral part of the hiring process.

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That said, here is what the future of pre-employment testing looks like:

  • Rise in job-specific tests -
  • College dropouts are now being considered seriously by several forward-thinking organizations. Pre-employment tests can help in assessing candidates who have the potential to perform well in a job but are left behind because of the limitations of a few tests. In the future, we will see more job-specific tests being included in pre-employment screening.
  • Changes in technology -
  • Today, many pre-employment test platforms use simulators (a coding simulator is the most common one). Candidates use these simulators to provide their responses to on-job scenarios. Companies find these simulators more effective than simple multiple-choice questions.
  • However, working with simulators is time-consuming. Futuristic technologies like LogicBox could soon replace simulators.
  • Different Assessments-
  • Beyond multiple-choice questions, companies will look for creative ways to assess candidates. Employer brand building and candidate engagement are becoming critical. To ensure that, companies want assessments to reflect their philosophy and culture and be fun.
  • The shift toward skill and cognitive tests-
  • A substantial portion of project managers today realize that candidates who seem promising during the job interview fail to perform effectively on the job. This is mainly because candidates are often evaluated only on their technical skills and not their cognitive abilities. The coming years will see pre-employment tests encompassing an array of cognitive aptitude tests. These tests can evaluate candidates not just on their programming or data analysis capabilities but across skills such as logic-based problem-solving, perception and interpretation of stimuli, critical thinking abilities, and emotional intelligence.
  • Mobile Testing -
  • Conducting tests on a mobile phone is an essential requirement for many staffing companies for many reasons. One worth mentioning is that candidates care about the job and not the agency which is placing them. If another agency can place them in the right company, that is a lost sale for them.
  • AI and Automation
  • - Artificial Intelligence is dramatically changing the way recruitment process. It automates and streamlines many aspects of talent acquisition, such as resume screening, interview scheduling, and even candidate comparisons. AI will also play a crucial role in pre-employment testing. Gamification, simulators, LogicBox, question sequencing – all these aspects will be based on AI. There is still a long way to go, but it’s the future we are talking about. read more...
  • The focus will be on training employees-

Considering the speed at which new technologies such as AI, IoT, data analytics, etc. are emerging, it is hard for companies to hire qualified candidates with these skills. The companies, therefore, will focus more on reskilling and upskilling their employees. However, once the training is completed, the employees will need to go through assessments before they can be placed on real-world jobs.

The future of pre-employment assessment software lies in being the Amazon of skills assessment

Skills are changing at a rapid pace. More than 65% of today’s skills will change within the next few years. And it isn’t feasible for companies to spend their time and energy creating assessments, assessing the answers, and keeping track of all the tests. Companies either need to hire more recruiters and experts for specific jobs and skills or use a pre-employment tool that can undertake all the hard work. Hence the need for an Amazon of skills assessment to choose the right assessment (skill test) according to your job description.

Background Check:

Background checks are indirect tests conducted by companies to verify the candidates’ backgrounds. These tests are conducted by a third party to check the candidate’s record. Companies typically look for criminal records and employability history through these checks.

Drug Screening & Physical Tests:

These tests determine the presence or absence of specified drugs in candidates. They help identify evidence of recent use of alcohol, prescription drugs, and illicit drugs. Urine and saliva testing are common methods of conducting these tests. Physical Ability tests measure the physical fitness of a candidate to do certain types of jobs.

Job-Knowledge Tests:

Assesses levels of skill-based technical competency, cognitive abilities, and mental attitudes toward performance. Technical skills, Cognitive skills, and job-sample tests are the best examples of Job-knowledge tests.

Pre-employment testing can be further classified into various other types, such as -

  1. Skill Tests
  2. Cognitive Tests
  3. Personality Tests
  4. Integrity Tests
  5. Emotional intelligence tests
  6. Background Checks
  7. Drug Tests
  8. Language Tests
  9. Physical Ability tests
  10. Job Sample Tests
Each test type can further be classified into various categories depending on the need & nature of the job requirement. Such as Technical Skills Tests, Cognitive Skills Tests, Job-simulation Tests, Language & Communication Tests, Personality Tests, etc. Click here to check if you are using the right type of pre-employment assessment

Let us look at these types of pre-employment tests in more detail -

1. Skill Tests-

Resume fraud costs employers approximately $600 Billion annually, and 57% of candidates lie about their skill set. Source.

Skill testing is the objective process of assessing the job-related skills of the candidate. Skill tests measure a candidate’s ability to apply skills while working on a particular job.

Skills can be measured by presenting a series of scenarios to the candidates and evaluating their responses in those scenarios. Employers can use job-specific skill tests to assess skills that are highly related to the given job role.

1.1 Job-specific skill test:

Job-specific skill tests are very specific to a particular job role or description. A job-specific skill test can have any of the following types of tests included in a single test.

i. Technical

ii. Cognitive

iii. Job-simulation

iv. Language & Communication

v. Personality

vi. Business Domain Knowledge

To create such test expertise knowledge, the science of assessments and the quality of questions is given due importance. Job-specific skill tests can be created in 2 different ways. You won’t find every pre-employment testing vendor providing this bifurcation, so you will have to check.

ADP cuts down time-to-hire by 50%

“Our HR team would forward resumes after basic keyword filtration. I would conduct a telephonic interview and, if found suitable, would get the candidates for a personal interview. When I was hiring a Release Engineer, many candidates looked good on paper but performed poorly during telephonic/personal interviews. It was tough and frustrating to interview many candidates and not find the right job fit. Telephonic interviews, personal interviews, and discussions with HR about every candidate were eating up my valuable time. This impacted us significantly.”

“To solve this issue, I researched online and zeroed in on pre-employment testing and iMocha. I loved the extensive skills library and created a Release Engineer assessment with Numerical Reasoning, System Administration, Shell Programming, English Proficiency, and Verbal Reasoning. Candidates were sent the assessment links, they appeared for it, and I immediately received the reports. Assessments provided us the head start to assess skills, evaluate candidates, and incorporate them in the interview funnel. It reduced our time to hire by half.”

Sohan Kabra (Senior Engineering Manager, ADP)


2. Cognitive Ability Tests-

Wikipedia defines cognitive ability as “the ability of an individual to perform the various mental activities most closely associated with learning and problem-solving.”

The cognitive ability tests assess the candidates’ thinking process, problem-solving abilities, and verbal abilities.

“Intelligence, so defined, can be measured, and intelligence tests measure it well. They are among the most accurate (in technical terms, reliable, and valid) of all psychological tests and assessments.”- Wall Street Journal in 1994 –A letter by 50 Research Psychologists.

Schmidt, Hunter, and Outerbridge’s (1986) causal model of job performance suggest that cognitive ability is the most important cause of job performance and that the relationship between ability and performance is stable over time.

A study by Hunter & Hunter shows cognitive tests are more effective in predicting job performance as compared to other job performance predictors like interviews and work experience. The below graph indicates job performance predictors and their percentage of variance accounted for in job performance.

3. Personality Tests-

Personality assessments help companies evaluate whether a candidate is a cultural fit and if a candidate’s personality is suitable for job success.

In today’s changing business scenarios and digital disruption, companies look for employees who possess the knowledge and intelligence and can also apply specific traits to perform a challenging job. In such situations, assessing the candidates’ personality traits has become important for companies.

U.S. employers are testing as many as 70 percent of applicants’ personalities (Source)

According to a survey conducted by the Center for Executive Succession at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, the major reason for the failure of executives at work performance is behavioral compatibility or personality types like ego, selfishness, etc., and their failure to fit with other team members.

Several tests are used for personality testing. Some of the most commonly used tests include Myers-BriggsDISCThe Caliper profileSHL occupational personality, and Hogan personality inventory.

Let us understand these in more detail -

  • 3.1 Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator:

This test helps to find out if an employee’s personality falls into one of two tendencies from various groups “Extraversion vs. Introversion,” “Intuition vs. sensing,” “Thinking vs. Feelings,” and “Judging vs. Perceiving.” In the Myers-Briggs questionnaire, a candidate is presented with two options, A or B, and the selected options help companies find out which tendencies the candidates lean toward.

  • 3.2 DISC Personality Assessment:

This test assesses the observable behavior of a candidate rather than skills. It focuses on how candidates behave rather than how they think about something. DISC personality assessment divides behaviors into four quadrants: dominance (D), influence (I), Steadiness (S), and Consciousness (C).

  • 3.3 The Caliper Profile:

This test measures how an individual's personality traits correlate to job performance. The questionnaire in this assessment includes a few statements, and the candidate has to select the statement that best suits their viewpoint.

  • 3.4 SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire:

SHL occupational personality questionnaire measures 32 personality characteristics relevant to performance. Candidates are given a few statements, and the candidate has to choose which statement best describes them. Candidates are evaluated in three main domains ‘emotions’, ‘relationship with people, and ‘thinking style and feeling.’

  • 3.5 Hogan Personality Inventory:

HPI is based on the five-factor model and evaluates seven primary scales and six occupational scales, which are ‘service orientation, stress tolerance, reliability, clerical potential, sales potential, and managerial potential.

  • 3.6 Big Five Personality Theory:

A group of independent scientists has defined five broad traits of a human personality based on research. These big five personalities are ‘Openness,’ ‘Consciousness,’ ‘Extraversion,’ ‘Agreeableness,’ and ‘Neuroticism.’

How reliable are these personality tests?

Correlations between personality and job success fall in the .03 to .15 range- 2007 review of academic literature published inPersonnel Psychology

Don't rely solely on personality tests to predict how candidates will respond to certain situations on the job. It is better to use personality tests alongside other assessment tools to make a more informed decision.

4. Integrity tests-

Integrity tests fall under personality tests and are useful to assess candidates’ ethical views. If a job profile requires this particular persona because of the nature of the job involved, one should give for the integrity test of candidates.

The questions are framed so that they help identify if a candidate will lie, follow unethical practices, rob the company for monetary gains, face disciplinary problems, and even get into violent activities.

However, the challenge with integrity tests is that it is easy to fake the answers. It is hard to evaluate whether the candidate has made up or is telling the truth.

5. Emotional intelligence tests-

Emotional intelligence, in simple terms, is a person’s ability to understand and control their own emotions and the emotions of other people. It has become a hot topic of discussion these days and is regarded as a key component of success in the workplace.

Various studies from Harvard and Stanford have found that 85–87% of a person’s success is attributed to soft skills, emotional intelligence, and interpersonal skills.

Yet, traditionally, only a fraction of companies have been paying attention to this vital aspect. However, emotional intelligence has now become one of the most sought-after skills by companies after job-specific skills.

Emotional intelligence tests help companies evaluate candidates’ behavior in various aspects, such as - response to stressful situations, working with a diversified team, handling challenges, self-awareness, managing emotions, and empathy. Just like integrity tests, emotional intelligence tests can also be faked. That apart, company culture can change a candidate’s personality if the candidate has a knack for keeping things right and has the right attitude.

6. Background Check Tests-

Nearly 72% of employers run a background check for every person they hire.

Background checks consist of investigating a candidate’s background to verify that a candidate is who they claim to be. Background checks may include employment checks, education history checks, criminal record checks, credit history, and more. Special care should be taken while performing background tests as you need to inform the candidate which tests you are conducting. In case of rejection based on the background checks, you need to show the candidate the certificate of the background checks.

6.1 Employment Background Check:

85% of employers report finding misrepresentations on a resume or job application.

An employment background check may include checking past work history, medical history, social media, criminal record, driving record, credit card history, & drug screening. An employer may outsource this task to a third party to get accurate information.

6.2 Criminal Background Check:

The criminal background check involves checking state & national-level criminal records of candidates. The records include if a candidate is involved in any type of arrest, conviction, sexual offenses, warrants, etc.

6.3 Credit Background Check:

A credit background check is performed by employers for job roles that directly deal with managing money. This includes checking the credit to debt ratio to see how employees have managed past credit and bill payments. Employers may also check bankruptcy information.

6.4 Driving Record Background Check:

Employers may check the driving records of the candidate to confirm any record of breaking traffic violations and major accidents.

6.5 Social Security:

Social Security Number Trace is performed to trace the candidate’s residential history. This information helps to create a list of jurisdictions that should be checked for the criminal record check.

7. Drug Testing-

As a part of the background check, verification companies also ask candidates to take a drug test. Candidates are not notified in advance about the drug test so that the tests can provide more accurate results. Candidates are directed to a laboratory to submit a sample for drug screening.

At the laboratory, the applicant has to submit a sample of any of the following - hair, sweat, urine, saliva, or blood drug test. As there can be legal concerns in the future, strict procedures are followed to document and prevent the adulteration of the sample.

Drug testing is used to check if the candidate has recently used illegal drugs. This is performed to avoid hiring a drug-addicted candidate and protect employees from possible drug or alcohol abuse.

The latest update in drug testing was the removal of the ban on Marijuana drug testing. Nevada becomes the first state in the US to ban pre-employment Marijuana drug testing. Newsweek.com

8. Language Test-

Communication is a critical part of any team, and it’s essential for team collaboration. Clear and effective communication among team members is helpful for the achievement of team goals.

Language proficiency tests include the evaluation of candidates’ communication skills in a particular language. This may include basic vocabulary checks related to the role and checking the candidates’ written communication skills.

9. Physical Ability Tests: 

Physical ability tests measure the candidates’ ability to perform certain job-related tasks. These tasks measure physical abilities, such as strength, endurance, and stamina.

Examples of a few physical ability tests include:

i. Balance Test: Tasks in which stability of body position is difficult to maintain

ii. Flexibility Test: Tasks including bending or stretching are involved

iii. Cardiovascular Endurance Test: Task assessing aerobic capacity

iv. Muscular Tension Test: Tasks that involve pushing, lifting, and pulling

Why should you perform PAT?

If the job involves physical activities, then it is advisable to conduct a physical ability test (PAT) before you select a candidate. Conducting PAT can give you the benefit of reducing the time and cost caused by possible accidents. The other benefits include the following:

  • i. Improved productivity
  • ii. Lower worker replacement cost
  • iii. Improved job performance & employee satisfaction
  • iv. Reduction in medical costs

EEOC guidelines mandate that whenever you use PAT, it should be validated, and the candidates should be tested only for tasks that are needed for accomplishing the job. Employers may face severe punishment if EEOC finds out that tests are discriminatory.

10. Work Sample Test-

Work sample testing requires the candidate to go through a similar type of task as that of the actual job. These types of tests are considered to have high content validity. There are different types of work sample tests, such as:

i. Work sample test (with training):

Here, the candidates are expected to learn the tasks through instructions and then perform those. This type of testing is suitable for candidates with minimum or no experience.

ii. Low-Fidelity Simulation:

Here, the candidates are given a description of work situations and five options. They need to select responses that they are most likely and least likely to make.

iii. Work Simulation Tests:

The candidate is given a real-time work-life situation and asked a series of questions so that they can describe decisions they would make in each situation.

Who is this guide for?

This pre-employment testing guide is a comprehensive guide for recruiters, hiring managers, recruitment managers, HR people, as well as job candidates – especially in technology companies.

This guide will walk you through the use, benefits, common mistakes, and best practices of pre-employment tests in detail.

History of pre-employment testing

Pre-employment tests were formally first used to recruit for the US Army in World War 1: the Army Alpha & Beta tests and were administered to over 1.75 million recruits.

source: Psychological test for recruits at Camp Lee, VA, 1917

With pre employment testing, the US Army had goals very similar to employers today. Some requirements for the test were:

  • It should be a high degree of validity as a measure of intelligence
  • Should be arranged for objectivity of scoring and the elimination of personal judgment concerning correct answers
  • The test must be made as completely independent of schooling and educational advantages as possible
  • The different tests used should be arranged to yield an accurate measure of intelligence in a reasonably short time

Whether the Alpha & Beta tests were successful or not for their intended purpose is up for debate, but the US Armed Forces have kept updating their recruitment process and administer the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) to this day to select recruits.

Why pre-employment testing important for hiring?

On an average, companies in the United States spend about $4,000 to hire a new employee and it takes them up to 52 days to fill a position source

By using pre-employment testing, companies can

  • Remove irrelevant candidates from the process as quickly as possible
  • Get hiring managers to spend time with the right candidates
  • Remove bias from hiring decisions and processes
  • And finally,find the candidates that are most likely to succeed

Pre-employment testing has come a long way since its inception during World War 1. For that matter, it has vastly changed from the days when companies use to take pen & paper tests on their premises.

To align with the disruption caused by technology proliferation, today, organizations have moved to more sophisticated & simulation-based online pre-employment tests. Candidates can take these tests at any time & any place.

Apart from the common benefits, modern online pre-employment tests also serve a bigger purpose in the overall hiring process.

While making the recruitment process faster, sustainable, and more objective, pre-employment tests also help organizations-

  • Deliver a stellar hiring experience to the candidates
  • Bring hiring managers & recruiters on the same page
  • Help in hiring a diverse workforce without biases
  • Ensure a legally compliant & fair hiring process
  • Attract quality candidates & help in employer branding
  • Improve employer branding
  • Provide insights to improve talent acquisition strategies

“Almost 90 percent of firms that test job applicants say they will not hire job seekers when pre-employment testing finds them to be deficient in basic skills” (Greenberg, 1996, p. 24).”

Benefits of pre-employment testing:

How various stakeholders benefit from a modern pre-employment testing platform

Apart from being a great help to recruiters, pre-employment tests also help the hiring managers, members of the hiring team, the senior people in recruitment, operations & HR. They help the candidates have a bias-free, fair hiring process, allows them to prove their candidature & showcase their skills in a hassle-free manner.

Let’s have a quick look at how carefully crafted, calibrated & well-maintained online testing tools can help various stakeholders in an organization.

1. Benefits of pre-employment testing for Hiring Managers
  • Save interviewer’s time by avoiding interviews of irrelevant candidates
  • Get high-quality candidates from the recruiters
  • Hire job-fit candidates
  • Avoid bad hires and avoid time spent on PIP, lack of results, project failures
  • Deliver projects on time by filling up the requirements quickly
  • Access to ready to use next gen skills tests useful for hiring new age talent
  • Ready access to a large pool of questions and avoid the hassles of questions getting leaked
  • To save billable hours, they want hiring team’s time to be spent interviewing relevant candidates
  • To maintain a large pool of questions so that the questions do not get leaked
Spectraforce saves billable hours of technical resources

Spectraforce is a staffing solutions company with a diverse client base ranging from IT giants, Fortune 500 companies, and tech-savvy SMBs.

They needed interviewers with strong technical knowledge about various programming languages to assess the skills of candidates. The HR team didn’t have tests for these technologies, so the expensive billable technical resources had to spend time in creating these questions.

By using iMocha, Spectraforce was able to test the depth of candidates’ technical knowledge quickly. Now, the recruiting team does not depend on technical resources for test preparations.

This has helped the company reduce the hiring timeline from 4 hours to 3 hours.Read More...

2. Benefits of pre-employment testing for Recruitment Managers
  • Recruit job-fit candidate
  • Quickly filter out irrelevant candidates early in the process
  • Easily track & measure each recruiter’s performance
  • Improve time to hire
  • Keep track & measure sourcing mechanisms
  • Remove hiring biases
  • Reduce recruitment costs
  • Deliver better candidate experience
3. Benefits of pre-employment testing for VP Talent Acquisition
  • Leverage the power of data and analytics in the hiring process
  • Enhance employer branding
  • Warrant diversity in hiring by removing hiring biases
  • Ensure a legally compliant and fair-to-all hiring process
4. Benefits of pre-employment testing for Recruiters
  • Easier identification of inflated resumes
  • Quick screening of job applicants
  • To validate technical skills of a candidate
  • Accurate validation of candidates’ technical skills without going through the hassles of interview scheduling
  • To be on the same page as the Hiring Manager
5. Benefits of pre-employment testing for Candidates
  • They get a fair hiring process
  • To get a good interview experience
  • They can avoid traveling to the employer's office multiple times during the interview process
  • They get access to a platform where they can showcase their knowledge and skills

Advantages of pre-employment testing in a nutshell

Nowadays, companies of all sizes use a pre-employment testing tool to get a better handle on the vast talent pool applying for the open job opportunities and select job fit candidates faster. While technology plays a vital role in increasing the number of applicants, employers today making it easier by implementing pre-employment tests into the recruitment process.

The 14 ( tangible ) benefits of pre-employment testing for Employers

1. Reduced administration -
Online tests need not be specifically organized. Candidates can be attempt those anytime, and from anywhere.

2. Automatic process -
Instant automated results are just a click away, which saves a lot of time in manual test evaluations. Immediate post-test feedback helps in keeping the candidates motivated and engaged.

3. Data and complete test analysis -
Get actionable and valuable analysis and insights about the tests at micro as well as macro level.

4. Instant diagnostic reports -
Detailed reports enable all the stakeholders to analyze results with ease.

5. Ensure quality candidates -
Easily weed out poor fit applicants. Increase the chances of hiring high-quality candidates.

6. Eliminates human error in grading -
Automated scoring ensures that the skill evaluation process is free of human error, and it is more valid and reliable.

7. Minimize the risk of bad hires -
Accurately judge the candidates’ skills using scientifically designed questions and minimize the chances of bad hires.

8. Improve hiring decisions -
Make a better hiring decision by easily identifying job-fit candidates. Get valuable insights into the candidates’ job readiness and future job performance.

9. Reduce time-to-hire -
Avoid the unnecessary, low-value, and cost-increasing elements in the hiring process.

10. Increased productivity -
Increase the recruitment and hiring teams’ productivity by reducing unnecessary tasks.

11. Reduced hiring biases -
Avoid discrimination against candidates based on gender, age, race, region. Make hiring decisions purely based on candidates’ proven competencies.

12. Data handling & storage -
Avoid the hassle of manual management and storage of all candidate and test-related data.

13. Wider reach -
Allow applicants from remote locations to apply for jobs and appear for the initial round of testing. This improves the reach of the company.

14. Better candidate engagement -
Actively engage candidates early in the hiring process, Ensure higher candidate satisfaction through a seamless hiring process.

Gett reduces time to hire and brings in transparency

The challenge that I faced while hiring for Business Analyst or any other position in my team is reaching out to the right candidate. A typical job opening at Gett attracts almost 80-90 resumes. While, on paper, maybe 50 of them fit the bill, there is no sure way of knowing the right fit unless each one is interviewed individually. Another challenge was eliminating human bias while hiring. Since, our process was so dependent on resumes, telephonic, and personal interviews; there was a possibility however marginal that human biases could creep in. In the larger scheme of things, this played out as a significant factor.

As an analytics team head, I have a firm belief in data and data-driven decision making. With iMocha, we got the clarity we were looking for. I created a BA assessment emphasizing analytical and logical thinking skills. These assessments were used for 1st level screening.

As an analytics team head, I have a firm belief in data and data-driven decision making. With iMocha, we got the clarity we were looking for. I created a BA assessment emphasizing analytical and logical thinking skills. These assessments were used for 1st level screening. This eliminated over-reliance on resumes removed irrelevant candidates, and brought transparency to the process. Another major advantage is that there is absolutely no need for the candidates to travel down to our office, they can appear for the assessment from anywhere and iMocha's powerful anti-cheating measures ensure that it's a fair attempt. We finally got the right candidate, that too in ¼ the time it would have normally taken us.

-George Nichkov (Global Analytics Team Lead, Gett).


Next Topics in this guide

In this guide, we also cover topics such as:

  • Types of Pre-employment Tests
    Know what are the different types of pre-employment tests and their uses.
  • Laws Governing Pre-Employment Tests:
    Know about the legal issues involved with pre-employment testing that may comply with EEOC guidelines or adequate security measures that must be taken before giving a test to any candidate.
  • How to choose your pre-employment testing vendors?
    Know how to strategize and include the pre-employment tests into your recruiting process. You will be able to choose and check the effectiveness of the pre-employment tests.
  • Pre-employment tests 101 for Candidates:
    Recruiters and HR aren't the only ones who are interested to know about pre-employment testing. Candidates are well aware of the importance of pre-employment testing and there are a lot of basic questions that must be answered. Head over to the candidate's section to know more.