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What Are Pre-Employment Assessments and Tests?

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Today, when hiring the best talent is one of the top contributing factors to companies’ growth, pre-employment tests have become a significant tool for companies. 

Hiring suitable candidates for a job role in an efficient and cost-effective way is crucial for the success of this HR function. 

Even a tiny hiring mistake can cost $840,000

Yup! You read that right!

That’s the bottom line cost of hiring a second-level manager earning about $60,000/year and terminating them after a year and a half. 

If only there were a tool to avoid any hiring mistakes, companies wouldn’t have to bear such hefty costs of a bad hire. 

Thanks to technology, there are!

Such tools are called pre-employment assessments & tests or pre-hire tests created using online assessment software.  

In this blog, we are going to discuss them- from what they are to the best practices to implement them in your hiring process.

Let’s start with the basics by understanding what such assessments are and how these work.

What are Pre-Employment Assessments?

Pre-employment assessments or tests are standardized questions that help gather relevant data on candidates during the hiring process. They are a reliable means of gaining insights into the capabilities and traits of prospective employees. 

These tests have become wildly popular in recent years as businesses that use online assessment software have a leg-up against those who don’t. 

Meaning, they’re 36% more likely to be satisfied with their new hire and less likely to make a $25,000 hiring mistake.

That is because a pre-employment test includes but is not limited to:

It helps you have a holistic view of your candidates and, most importantly, a ranking system driven by data. So, you don’t make the hiring move only based on your gut feelings! 

Read: How to Create a Skill Assessment for Hiring

What Are the Different Types of Pre-Employment Tests?

Depending on the type of test you use, pre-employment assessments can help provide data that you can use to determine a candidate’s ability to perform in the workplace. The most commonly used types of pre-employment tests are:

1- Cognitive Aptitude Test

Cognitive aptitude tests predict how a candidate will perform on the job with their cognitive abilities. 

With the candidates’ answers in the test, you can learn how they can handle and respond to challenging  situations. 

The General Aptitude Test, commonly known as GAT, is a perfect example of a cognitive test used to assess a candidate’s logical, verbal, and analytical ability. 

Abstract Reasoning Assessment

2- Skills & Knowledge Test

Skill tests and knowledge tests are used to assess if the candidate has the essential skills and knowledge required to perform a particular job. 

With a skill test, you can ask the candidate to perform a task to assess the level of knowledge and skill the candidates have mentioned on their resume. 

For example, you want to hire a candidate for the role of the social media manager. In that case, you can use a social media marketing skills assessment to assess your candidates’ social media marketing skills. 

Social Media Marketing Assessment

3- Personality Assessment

Personality assessment or personality tests are commonly known to assess if the candidates fit within the company’s culture. 

You can use this assessment to see if the candidate has certain traits such as extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness to experience, and neuroticism. 

Personality Assessment

These are some of the most popular pre-employment personality tests used by employers:

  • The Caliper Profile
  • The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
  • The SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire
  • The Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI)
  • The DiSC Behavioral Inventory

Discover More Assessments

4- Emotional Intelligence Tests

An emotional intelligence test is used to assess the candidate’s ability to understand other people’s emotions and their own. 

Emotional intelligence forms the core of successful teamwork and, thus, is an essential trait for leadership and managerial roles. 

Leadership Potential Assessment

Now let’s understand why you must use these different types of pre-hire tests. 

Why Should You Use Pre-Employment Testing?

Apart from the fact that a pre-employment test offers a standardized way to gather data on your candidates, you should use a pre-employment test for the following reasons: 

#1. To Avoid the $840,000 Hiring Mistake

One of the most important reasons you should use a skill assessment test is to avoid the cost of bad hiring.

The total cost of hiring and letting go of the wrong candidate includes hiring costs, total compensation, eventual severance pay, and other factors like legal fees, etc. 

Let’s look at the following infographic to fully understand the cost of a bad hire. 

Costs of bad hire


Since a pre-employment assessment involves an assessment of core traits and skills, it is easier to hire the best candidates.

#2. To Rule Out Misrepresentation 

Often hiring managers hire a candidate only because they have a great set of skills mentioned in their resume. But, do they possess those skills? How do you find out? 

Research by Inc. shows that 85% of candidates lie on their resumes. These lies range from the skills listed to the diplomas secured. 

So naturally, you can’t really rely on the information provided by candidates. But, what you can do is use a skill assessment test to see if they really possess the skills and knowledge mentioned in their resume. 

Also, you can configure settings to prevent cheating on the test, and hence, rest assured that the candidates aren’t scoring with a false practice. 

#3. To Narrow Down List of Candidates

By gathering sufficient data on applicants, you can use the results from the test to ask candidates specific questions related to their skills and work experience. 

This exercise will help you quickly narrow down the number of applicants you’re going to hire, especially if you have a lot of resumes to sort through.

John Baker, the owner and founder of John Baker Sales, uses pre-employment testing to hire smart people. 

John had earlier revealed that he struggled with finding candidates that matched their hiring criteria, and asking them to take paper-based tests was a time-consuming process. But, using pre-employment tests created with an online test maker has made their hiring process much more efficient. 

In his words, “as a part of our pre-screening process, we send them a link to the same test that we create, and if they do not meet our minimum score requirements, they are eliminated from a face-to-face interview. This approach has saved us countless hours over the past five years.

To keep it simple for you to understand, we’ve summed up the benefits of using the pre-employment tests in our next section. 

What Are The Benefits of Using a Pre-Employment Test? 

An online assessment system provides much more value – and saves you much more time – than trying to create, administer and score tests manually. These are some of the major benefits of using one:

1. Increased Efficiency

According to research, the average recruiter spends nearly 63% of their time on the phone per week. Meanwhile, in-person interviews can last an average of 40 minutes, and the average time to fill a job role is found to be 42 days

These metrics imply that the hiring process can be incredibly overwhelming for some hiring managers. 

The large pool of applicants makes it increasingly difficult for managers to handle the flow and identify the best candidates. Using pre-employment tests can fast forward the hiring process and help you streamline it to a great extent. 

Here’s how: 

  • These tests can save you time when placed at the top of the hiring funnel. 
  • With the help of AI-enabled test results, you can easily weed out underskilled candidates from the pool.
  • Candidates who score high and complete the test are those you need to move forward.  
  • Setting a minimum cut-off score will help you narrow down the number of candidates to select for personal interviews. 
  • You can limit the hours you spend on repetitive, time-consuming hiring activities and easily discover the right candidates for the job.

What’s more, you can even get to know your candidates by creating video interview questions and adding them to your skill assessment tests.

Watch: How to Create a Video Interview Question

2. Quality Hiring

People differ in terms of many physiological and psychological characteristics. But these differences can’t be seen or heard. You can only see their impact on other variables.

For instance, you can’t observe strength, but you can observe people with heavy lifting abilities, which is an indicator of strength. Similarly, you can’t observe analytical aptitude but measure it with a test.

Such differences in characteristics among people have important implications in the employment context. 

Candidates who apply for a job role may vary widely in their knowledge, skills, abilities, interests, work styles, and other characteristics. 

You can’t assess their skills or abilities by looking at their resume. But with a well-validated employment test, you can gather accurate information to determine if the candidate possesses the knowledge, skills, and abilities to excel at the job role you’re hiring for.

For example, an applicant’s score on a mechanical skill assessment test will reflect their mechanical skills, knowledge, and ability. 

You can use this score to predict how well that applicant is likely to perform in a job that requires mechanical ability, as demonstrated through a professionally conducted skill assessment test. 

3. Increased Employee Retention

Pre-employment testing ensures that the candidates you hire have the adequate aptitude and skill required to perform the job well, along with a personality that will help them thrive in your organization. 

These factors contribute to the candidate’s performance prediction in the long run and may reduce the likelihood of them being let go and the likelihood of them quitting the job. 

4. Reduced Turnover Costs

No matter what industry you’re in, seeing a spike in your company’s turnover will probably cause a spike in your blood pressure. Hiring and then replacing employees is a costly affair that can end up with more expenditure than on their actual salaries. 

According to Jorgen Sundberg, owner & CEO of the employer branding firm Link Humans, the average cost of hiring a wrong employee is $840,000, which includes the cost of hiring, total compensation, eventual severance pay, and other factors like legal fees.  

Given the cost that high turnover rates can inflict on your business, you must seek effective methods of reducing them. 

Resumes provide limited information, which isn’t enough to evaluate the true potential of candidates’ on-the-job performance.

On the other hand, a well-designed pre-employment test can provide you with much more accurate, objective information to evaluate your candidates. 

You can accurately assess their knowledge, skills and determine how well they match with the job role, which in turn, will increase the odds of you hiring the right person for the job, ultimately reducing the turnover rate. 

Now that you’re familiar with the benefits of using a pre-employment screening, we’d also like to share some of the best practices for using pre-employment testing.

Best Practices for Implementing Pre-Employment Testing

Before you decide to create a pre-employment test and implement it into your hiring process, you must learn how to get the most out of it. Below we’ve shared the best practices that will help you make the smartest hiring decisions: 

1. Choose the Right Test

You can’t use the same test for every job role that you’re hiring for. Every job role requires a specific set of skills and knowledge. That’s why you need to choose the right test to assess your candidates. 

Ensure that the test you choose has a range of questions that not only help you narrow down the focus of your assessment. Meaning, you should test for skills, learn if they have the desired knowledge, and get to know them. 

2. Validate the Test

Ensure the validity of the test you’re going to use before you share it with the applicants. 

Ask yourself: Does the assessment include questions that cover all the aspects of the pre-employment testing? Does it include any unnecessary questions or questions that are futile? 

Eliminate any questions that do not serve your purpose to ensure the test you use for skill assessment is totally valid. The questions used in your assessment should help you evaluate the desired skills and help you predict the extent to which the candidate is capable of performing the job. 

4. Test at the Right Time

Timing is everything, especially when it comes to adding a skill test to your hiring process. 

Often, the candidates you interview turn out to be not as technically skilled as the job role requires. That’s when you realize all the time spent in lining up the candidate for the actual interview has gone to waste. 

According to Harvard Business Review skill tests should be placed early in the hiring process. 

According to their research’s findings, “Businesses can reduce costs and make better hires by using short, web-based tests as the first screening step. These tests help weed out the least-suitable applicants, leaving a smaller, better-qualified pool to undergo the more costly personalized aspects of the process.”

So, when you create a skill test, you screen candidates in, not out. 

If the volume of candidates is huge, filter the highly skilled candidates using smart reports and statistics. 

This way you can rest assured that only those candidates who have the right skills for the job role progress further through the selection stages. 

5. Track Completion Rates

With the job market on an all-time low, people spend an average of 11 hours scouting for a job to apply to. So, it is quite natural to get burned out. 

When conducting a pre-employment test, you’re also allowing the candidate to take a break from the stale interview experiences, rise above their resume, and showcase their personality. 

While the candidates take their test, it is your job to track the completion rates. With higher completion rates, you can expect to have a positive recruiting experience. Only the candidates genuinely interested in applying their skills to the job role will be moving forward in the process. 

You can also track the progress of your candidates and assess the difficulty level of your assessment by seeing the questions that were skipped the most by candidates. 

Accordingly, you can change or modify the questions in the test. 

6. Establish Minimum Cutoff Scores

Establishing a minimum cutoff score can help you minimize the chances of bad hires. 

That is because the higher your cutoff score is, the more likely candidates scoring above the cutoff will have the skills to excel in the job. 

But, how do you determine the right cut-off score? 

For that, we advise you to take into account the specific dynamics of your hiring process, such as the size of your candidate pools, your applicant-to-hire ratio, and other factors.

However, you must refrain from setting it too high because it will probably eliminate many capable candidates and run the risk of filtering out too many qualified people. 

7. Use the Best Pre-Employment Testing Software

Well, this should have been listed at the top of the best practices, but here we are. We recommend using the best online assessment software for creating and sharing the pre-employment tests. 


Simply because it’ll help you shed the burden of writing down the right questions, scoring the tests, and preparing reports. Also, it will provide you everything required to hire the right candidates for a job role with minimum human effort.

Watch: How to Choose the Best Assessment Software

Take Hiring to the Next Level

Pre-employment tests are beneficial for employers, candidates, and the company as a whole. 

Even though they are only used to assess and not select candidates, they make hiring faster, fairer, and more efficient. Also, with the right software, pre-employment assessments turn out to be the most helpful resource in the recruitment process.

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About the author

Kamy is an eLearning & training expert. He has been published in eLearningIndustry, TrainingMag. As a corporate trainer at ProProfs, he has been instrumental in building an awesome eLearning management system that has simplified learning and training for thousands of customers across the globe. Follow Kamy @kamyanderson

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