Gone is the time when a company published a job ad, invited candidates for an interview, held interviews and selected the best one. Hiring the wrong person can become a costly and time-wasting issue for an organisation. Many companies consider therefore pre-employment testing tools which will allow them to screen and select the most suitable, qualified and reliable candidates and screen out those that don’t seem to fit for whatever reason.
Types of Tests
Assessment tests are only effective if they are objective, reliable, valid and relevant to the job and industry. A company’s challenge is therefore to create a test that will assess the jobseeker’s knowledge, abilities and/or personality traits. The more customised the test is the better. Companies can now choose from various assessment options, such as:
- Hard skills tests (computer skills, language skills, clerical skills, math skills or other specific knowledge skills);
- Job related soft skills (customer service, sales ability, communication, team working, time management and many more);
- Tests on integrity (theft, trustworthiness, reliability, team and culture fit);
- Personality tests (personal character traits). There are many tests to choose from, such as Predictive Index Test, DiSC, PAPI (Personality and Preference Inventory), Myers Briggs Type Indicator etc.;
- General reasoning or cognitive tests. (They test how quickly candidates can process new information and analyse complicated scenarios. These type of tests are becoming increasingly popular considering that the job market is getting tougher as time goes by.)
Many types of assessments are being presented in a multiple choice format. A particularly effective method in screening out immediately those candidates who don’t want to invest a lot of time in the employer’s interview process is the use of an “Essay style Application”. Job applicants are invited to describe in more detail what they did, the way they did something and how they overcame various obstacles in the process.
At what stage
One might wonder at what point in the interview stage companies are applying these kind of assessments. While some companies use these tests after receiving the candidates’ applications, others use them after the first phone interview, before the first face to face interview or between the first and second interview.
How to communicate to candidates about process & tests
If job candidates before applying for a job are being made fully aware of the hiring procedures it reflects positive on a company. Often candidates at different stages in the application process find themselves suddenly taking tests which are provided by third parties with external links without any form of introduction. In order to make this transition smoother it would be advisable to provide the job candidate with detailed information in advance regarding: type, structure, duration and reasons of the assessment.
Furthermore, it is highly recommended to ask only those questions and to test only those skills that are really relevant to the job. This is an issue that most companies are struggling with since the line between job-related content and finding out about a candidate’s personality is not always clear. If tests are being purchased from third parties they need to be critically analysed in terms of real job relevance. What is good for one company doesn’t necessarily have to be appropriate for another company too. A company should not hesitate to make certain amendments if there are any concerns with regard to the content of the test.
Once a candidate has submitted his/her application s/he should be informed about the next steps, such as: who and when someone from the company will contact them and what they can expect to be happening next. In order to be perceived as a professional and serious company with high standards it would be good to keep any job seeking person well informed regardless of their test result. This way a jobseeker would make a positive experience, negative word-of-mouth for the company would be avoided and the number of submitted applications would be higher.
Benefits for the company:
The benefits from which the company can benefit are the following:
- it saves time in the selection process (in this case only the most suitable candidates will be invited for a face to face interview)
- it saves costs
- it provides a deeper insight into a candidate’s abilities and potential besides a person’s resume
- it is more objective (because the Hiring Manager would not be influenced by a person’s appearance, charisma and persuasive skills. He would be only focused on the person’s ability.)
And once the right candidate has been hired, the company will notice further longterm benefits, such as decreased staff turnover, increased productivity and improved morale.
Companies should bear in mind that an assessment should be an additional tool to make the right hiring decision but should not be a replacement for a face to face interview, background and reference checks. Hard and soft skills, experiences, qualifications, personality, company culture fit etc. still play an important role that also need to be taken into consideration.