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Pre-Employment Testing:
The Missing Link in Your Hiring Process

Clint Maun, CSP

Scrutinizing résumés, conducting interviews, and checking references are all legitimate and time-honored ways to select job candidates. However, adding more objectivity to your screening and hiring efforts never hurts. And pre-employment testing is one way to more tightly control such a highly subjective process.

Pre-employment testing can make the hiring process more productive by preventing costly mistakes. These diagnostic tools will give you the information you need to identify the individuals who will make a good fit at your healthcare organization. Pre-employment testing can also help you:
  • Make sure job applicants have the skills and personality necessary to do the job.
  • Uncover red flags that should be further probed in an interview.
  • Match new hires with compatible managers.
  • Establish benchmarks against which to gauge future progress.

Of course, testing will not predict who will succeed or fail in a position 100 percent of the time, and it should only be used in combination with other recruitment tools.

What Kinds of Tests Are Out There?
There are dozens of pre-employment tests on the market today. Some tests measure personal attributes, such as honesty and aggressiveness. While others assess specific skill sets. Major types of tests include:

Intelligence/mental ability tests: these tests measure a job candidate’s aptitude or ability to quickly acquire job knowledge and perform job-related tasks.

Personality and motivation tests: measure an individual’s pattern of thinking, feeling, and behaving. These tests are often used to assess a candidate’s level of drive and motivation.

Pre-employment integrity tests: these tests identify job applicants who are likely to steal, lie, or use illegal substances.

Management tests:predict a person’s potential for success as a supervisor, middle manager, or senior executive.

Fast Facts
The rising importance of testing is evident in the following statistics from the American Management Association:
  • Seven out of 10 companies engage in some sort of job skill testing.
  • Forty-six percent of companies use some form of psychological testing.
  • Forty-one percent of companies test job applicants in basic literacy and/or math skills. More than one-third of job applicants tested lacked sufficient skills for the positions they sought.

While employment tests are used for virtually every type of job, they are most frequently used for entry-level workers. This is due to the fact that many candidates for these positions do not have enough work experience for you to properly evaluate the potential for success. So, before you select a test, identify what exact positions will require testing, as well as the items you would like the test to measure (i.e, math, reading, people skills etc.).

Do Your Homework Whether you develop your own tests, or seek an outside vendor, there are some key items to keep in mind:
  • Make sure it’s legal. Tests must comply with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. In general, a test will comply if it meets two criteria: it is job-related and it does not adversely impact a specific group of people.
  • Make sure that you have a thorough job analysis of the position you’re testing. This should include examining your company’s job descriptions, observing workers, and interviewing them.
  • Procedures must be in place for storing tests and answers so that only people with a legitimate right to know or use the information have access to it.
  • Make sure you can understand the results. Have a means to tabulate the scores and make sure that the results can be easily interpreted so you can ask interview questions for further probing.

Other Tips to Keep in Mind
  • Testing should be documented and reviewed with your Human Resources department.
  • Pre-determine what "weight" the testing results will have in the selection process.
  • Give applicants advanced notice of the testing.
  • Provide sufficient time, tools, and a reasonable environment in which to take the test.
  • You may prefer to use the word "survey" as opposed to "test" to ease applicants’ anxieties.

Remember that legal and confidentiality issues can arise from testing. You should always seek legal counsel if you have any questions or concerns.