Employment testing provides a reliable and objective indicator of a candidate’s future success in a given role. By incorporating these tests into your recruitment and selection process, your company can significantly improve the quality of hiring decisions.
Employment Testing for Skill Set
Employment tests provide an objective measure in determining which candidate possesses the requisite skill set to successfully perform in a given role:
- Excel tests can measure a candidate’s ability to perform complex statistical functions and create spreadsheets.
- Research studies have shown that cognitively-based assessments (e.g. degree of detail orientation, spatial ability) provide a high degree of accuracy in terms of predicting performance for those positions where these traits are important for success.
- Peer-reviewed research of various testing methods have found that aptitude assessments are two to four times more likely to predict job success as are interviews, past experience and level of education.
The validity of employment tests as reliable indicators of job performance stems from the fact that they measure a wide range of both hard and soft skills, such as software knowledge, mathematical proficiency, problem-solving, learning and applying new concepts, analytical thinking and decision-making.
Aside from measuring candidate skills, knowledge, and abilities, employment tests can also help your company determine a candidate’s behavioral traits. Understanding these traits is critical to making effective hiring decisions because they add the dimension of cultural fit and preferred work style, thereby rounding out a candidate profile. Employment testing can uncover such behavioral tendencies as:
- Motivation and discipline.
- Problem solving ability and analytical thinking skills.
- Organizational skills and the ability to multitask.
- Whether the person is a team player or “lone wolf”.
- Dependability and commitment.
- Self-discipline and the ability to follow-through on projects.
- Emotional stability and the ability to work under pressure.
- Tendency toward confrontational behavior.
- Tendency toward dishonest behavior.
- Leadership potential.
Professionally created pre-employment tests that have been properly validated can aide a company’s productivity by enhancing the probability that hired employees will perform successfully. Employment testing programs can help make sure that there is a match between the skills, knowledge, and behavioral traits of candidates with the needs of the position, company culture, and expected outcomes. The following is a listing of benefits that your company can realize as a result of an effective employment testing program:
- Increased productivity.
- Higher employee retention rates and decrease in recruitment and on-boarding costs.
- An objective measure by which to make hiring decisions, thereby reducing your firm’s legal liability.
- Provides a consistent and reliable method of selecting the “best match” candidate for every open position.
- Measures core behavioral tendencies, in addition to job skills.
- Allows employers to compare actual skills and abilities of candidates to the needs of the position.
- Provides a source of interview questions that focus on specific areas of weakness or concern. Keep in mind that it is harder if not impossible to train for soft (behavioral) traits than it is for hard skills.
- Permit employers to tailor training and orientation programs to the specific needs of each new hire.
- Reduce the learning of new hires thus reducing a company’s “opportunity cost” (revenue lost due to low productivity).
- Establishes a benchmark in terms of employee development.
Once caveat with regard to employment testing is that no one candidate will be a perfect match for any given role. As a result, your hiring decision will, in most instances, be based on “what matters most.” As a general rule it is much harder, if not impossible, to train for soft skills (behavioral traits) than to train for hard skills (e.g. software programs). While there may be some degree of opportunity cost in hiring a candidate who lacks technical skills, should there be a cultural fit and the candidate is amenable to training, it may well be that this person remains with the company for a longer period than would a candidate who possesses the requisite technical skills but is not a match with the company’s culture. In short, the opportunity cost of training for hard skills is usually less than the recruitment costs your company will incur if a candidate resigns due to cultural misalignment.
When statistically significant correlations can be made between assessment results and various desirable outcome metrics — productivity, employee satisfaction and retention, recruitment and on-boarding costs — it is an easy step to conclude that the return-on-investment these tests provide more than outweighs their purchasing cost and the time it takes to administer them.
by Lisa Ann Burke