What is Pre-Hire Testing?
Pre-hire testing or pre-hire assessment is the process of using tests and questionnaires to screen candidates for job openings on a variety of factors like cognitive ability, critical thinking skills, personality, preferences and motivation.
The use of hiring assessments is on the rise, with as much as a 20% increase year over year. Some surveys show more than 80%of Fortune 500 companies are using hiring assessments for executive positions, and that smaller companies have begun adopting hiring assessments as well for a more scientific and quantifiable way of evaluating candidates. According to the publisher of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test, 89 of the Fortune 100 companies use their personality test as a way to screen candidates and predict future success.
Why Use It?
Choose the best candidate, not the best interviewer
So why are companies adopting the use of standardized pre-hire testing and hiring assessments? Isn’t a few rounds of phone interviews and on-site meetings enough? As it turns out, according to the Society of Human Resources Management, 53% of all job applicants lie on their resumes, claiming credit for projects they weren’t actually involved in and exaggerating their skills and accomplishments. The in-person interview provides only a very quick and one-dimensional view into the candidate as a potential employee and is a better measure of the employee’s charisma, charm and persuasive power than actual job performance. Positive references that are provided to employers as a part of the background check process are typically friends of potential candidates and do little to verify the candidate’s actual qualifications and personality traits.
Because of this, many employers have adopted a customized approach to interviews, often including a brief project, test, or working “case study” as a part of the recruitment process. The problem with simply using tests, projects, and case studies is that they only measure the candidate’s performance in one instance, on one project, and in the artificial environment/situation that is created when a candidate is under pressure to “impress” the hiring manager. Tests and case studies don’t truly show the full picture of the candidate, nor do they capture whether the candidate is likely to succeed and stay in the role.
Pre-hire testing allows you to screen for more than just charisma and interviewing ability. It also helps you turn the search for the right candidate into more than just a ticking of the boxes or a checklist of skills and qualifications. With hiring assessments, you can test for a range of applicable skills and personality traits including:
- cognitive ability
- strategic thinking
- subject-area knowledge
- problem solving ability
- leadership ability
- organizational skills
- analytical skills
Keep that new hire and lower turnover rate
The second part of recruiting the right candidate is making sure you hire someone who will be happy with, and stay in the position. If an employee isn’t the right personality fit for a job it leads to lower engagement with the role, which leads to lower productivity, higher turnover, and ultimately higher costs for your company. We all know how expensive and time-consuming it is to hire, train, and then replace an employee. The cost of replacing a bad hire can be almost twice the employee’s yearly salary and benefits.
With hiring assessments, you can test for personality traits and soft skills that are strong indicators of a candidate’s personality fit with both the role and the overall organization. The results can show you whether or not a candidate is likely to stay in the role and fit in with the company culture. If preserving your company culture, or improving it, is a priority, pre-hire assessments can also show you which candidates are likely to add to your existing culture or help to create the culture you are striving for.
Hiring the right candidate is especially important when you’re hiring for management roles and roles that work with many departments since it can affect the overall retention rate of the rest of your employees. We all know that when someone who isn’t the right fit is hired, the overall morale of the department and retention in affected teams can go down. That’s definitely something you want to avoid!
There are many more factors that go into predicting whether or not a candidate will be the right fit for a position and company, including:
- Passion for learning
- Sense of urgency or timeliness
- Passion for the profession / overall ambition
- Ownership and initiative
- Company and culture fit
- Communication skills
- Intelligence / critical thinking skills
- Teamwork / collaboration skills
- Project management skills
- Curiosity / asking the right questions
These hard and soft skills aren’t always obvious and are difficult to screen for during a standard interview process. That’s why many companies have adopted pre-hire testing and hiring assessments as a way to choose the best candidates. At Newton, we’ve used hiring testing as a part of our interview process since we were founded in 2009 and it’s been a huge part of how we’ve grown the company.
Types of Test or Assessments
There are many different types of tests you can administer for many different reasons. We’ve outlined a few here.
- Wonderlic – At Newton, we use Wonderlic, which includes scientifically validated tests that screen for a variety of traits and give you that “whole person” view into your candidate. Wonderlic screens for cognitive ability; critical thinking; motivation potential; personality & integrity, and overall knowledge and skills. It’s been used in the NFL draft and also measures learning styles and how quickly you grasp concepts and make sense of them. The questions aren’t “leading,” making it a hard test to game or cheat. It’s also been a proven method for predicting job performance.
- Caliper – Caliper has been around for 50+ years and focuses mostly on personality, measuring strengths, motivations, and potential to succeed. It can give you insight into a candidate’s natural tendencies, behaviors, and preferences as well as how they interact with other people, their overall attitudes at work, and their approaches to problem solving.
- Predictive Index – Predictive Index includes workforce assessments, behavioral assessments, job assessments, and cognitive tests that provide insight into what drives your candidates, how quickly they can get up to speed, and how likely they are to adequately fill the role that is needed in your company.
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator – The MBTI is perhaps one of the best known personality tests and is usually used in a psychological framework for people to better understand themselves and how they interact with and view the world. Some Fortune 100 companies have been known to use this test to hire executives.
- Plum.io – Plum.io offers pre-hire assessments that incorporate a full spectrum of behavior and intelligence. Their tests include measures of performance, problem solving, social intelligence, stability, enthusiasm, compassion, and other hard and soft skills. Plum.io’s website mentions that the test is created to be harder to “game” for a better score.
- Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire – The 16 Personalities test is another personality test similar to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator that tests for a person’s overall worldview and behavioral traits. It’s useful for evaluating a candidate’s interests, opinions, and typical habits.
- SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire – This questionnaire has been around for over 30 years and gives you an idea of how certain behaviors can affect a candidate’s performance at work. The questions cover areas including people skills, thinking style, as well as feelings and emotions. There are different versions of reports for the test depending on your company’s goals.
- disc Behavior Inventory – The disc assessment tests for a candidate’s dominant traits based on four factors: Dominant (D), Influential (I), Steady (S) and Compliant (C). The test can be used to understand a candidate’s overall work behavior and ability to enhance a team. This test, however, isn’t normalized – meaning you won’t be able to compare scores between candidates.
Choosing the Right Test
If you want to choose the right test, there are a few factors you’ll want to keep in mind. The first thing you’ll want to know is what your company or hiring managers are looking for. Depending on what team you are hiring for or what industry your company sits in, you’ll need a different type of test to address your varying needs. A company hiring senior level executives in the technology industry, for example, may be more focused on screening candidates for cognitive ability and overall personality traits. A company in the food and beverage industry hiring retail associates may be more focused on screening candidates for certain behavioral factors like sociability, timeliness, and conscientiousness.
As a general rule of thumb, regardless of the type of test you choose, you should find a pre-hire assessment that is:
- Normative – Candidates scores need to be able to be compared quickly to other candidates’ scores
- Reliable – The test should be a proven predictor of job performance. If a candidate re-takes the test, they should score similarly, and these scores should be scientifically validated indicators of performance.
- Hard to Game – Answers to the test should not be able to be found online, and the test should be an accurate assessment of actual skills and behavioral traits
- Candid – The test should be designed in such a way that candidates can be screened for overall honesty. There should be no “leading” questions.
How to Conduct Pre-Hire Assessments
Pre-hire assessments can be done at various stages in the interview process, depending on the needs of your company. Depending on the number of tests you want to issue they can be issued all at once, or one at a time. At Newton, we issue two assessments in the final stage of the interview process: one cognitive and one personality hiring assessment.
Once the second interview has been completed, the tests are issued directly to the candidate via email right before the offer phase, and the candidate can complete them at their leisure within a week from the comfort of their own homes. In our case, we have Wonderlic integrated directly into our applicant tracking process (yes, we do eat our own dog food here and use Newton as our applicant tracking system!)
There are a few stages in the process where you can issue pre-hire testing but these are the most common we see:
- After the 1st or 2nd phone screen and before the 1st on-site
- After the 1st onsite and before the 2nd on-site
- After the 2nd on-site and before the offer phase
- During the 1st or 2nd on-site
- During the offer phase with the offer contingent on passing
Newton’s Pre-Hire Testing Process
At Newton, we issue the hiring assessments after the 2nd on-site and before the offer phase and inform candidates that the offer will be contingent on passing. We usually explain that this is something we’ve always done, and that it helps us hire the best employees who will be as happy with us as we are with them. Hiring testing is usually received well and a candidate’s response to it can even be an indicator of overall culture fit.
So there you have it! What are your current pre-hire assessment needs? Newton is a fully featured applicant tracking system designed by recruiters for every stage of the hiring process. We’ve been in your shoes, tried out a ton of products and we’ve added integrations to the best of the best.
If pre-hire assessments and pre-hire testing is something you’re interested in, feel free to contact us or request a demo to see how Wonderlic testing integrates directly into Newton and can help you make better hires faster.