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Employment Testing: 3 Things to Know When You're Getting Started
September 16, 2014 8:00:00 PM EDT   By Shoa Appelman
Manager interviewing multiple candidates

Why Use Employment Tests?

Having a job opening is exciting and daunting. You're growing and looking for new talent, but you need to hire the right person for the job.

Employment tests help hiring managers identify the good candidates. How? Well, among other things, employment tests:

Efficiently screen job applicants

Online job boards (ex. monster.com, indeed.com, and snagajob.com), online social networks (ex. linkedin.com and facebook.com) and employee referrals, make it easier than ever for candidates to submit their resumes for a job role. Simply posting a job opening on a company website generates many application submissions because some job boards scrape this data and post it for the world to see. This improved reach to potential candidates is good, because a larger candidate pool will lead to hiring a better candidate. However, it can be time-consuming to read a resume. Additionally, 53% of candidates lie or embellish on their applications, so investing a lot of time in resume reviews might not be productive.

Employment tests are a quick way to determine whether a candidate should be considered for the next step in the hiring process. And many candidates appreciate employment tests, because they provide an opportunity to demonstrate their abilities and stand out from the crowd.

By sending all serious job applicants an employment test, companies can quickly narrow down their applicants and help ensure they are spending time having conversations with the right candidates for the job position.

Eliminate Interviewer Bias

Everyone has biases. Venture Capital firms even admit that they are more inclined to invest in a company if it is run by someone who looks more like Mark Zuckerberg than Mitt Romney. And even when aware of our biases, it is difficult to make a decision that doesn't reflect these biases. Tests leverage decades of research in traits for what makes successful employees. So, by testing a candidate, managers are measuring them against proven success factors rather than their own pre-conceptions.

Facilitate Constructive interviews

Employment tests provide feedback on the candidate. Good employment test reports highlight areas that could be problematic. For example, a test may reveal that a candidate is a perfectionist. Perfectionists can be helpful when there is ample time and budget to create a product, but sometimes people have to release a product knowing that there is room for improvement. In these cases, a perfectionist can be problematic because the project may not be delivered. By highlighting the potential problem area, the test gives the interviewer an opportunity to probe further on a relevant topic that might not have naturally occurred during an interview.

Tests Correlate with Business Impact

Perhaps the greatest reason people use employment tests is that they work. Companies routinely experience a minimum of 30% decrease in turnover and improvement in sales after incorporating testing into their hiring process.

Where Do Employment Tests Fit Into the Hiring Process?

There are two stages during the hiring process that employers typically use tests.

1. Before the interview.

Employers will send a test to job applicants in order to determine who should be brought in for the interview. This screening approach to candidates is especially helpful if you have a large applicant pool and limited resources to interview and hire. By sending applicants a test, you can ensure the applicants who come in for the interview are smart and able to do the work. This stage is also helpful because interviewers may reference the score report to have a more constructive and in-depth interview.

2. After the interview

Some interviewers need a second opinion. They might feel hesitant about making the hire or want more information before committing to the decision. Rather than ask a candidate to come in again and potentially repeat the same process, it's helpful to send an employment assessment. Assessment results can help reaffirm a hiring decision or trigger a decision to look for more candidates.

How Do I Choose the Right Employment Test for the Job?

The employment test needs to be applicable to the job. To avoid employment testing lawsuits, managers need to select tests that measure job relevant traits. For example, if you are hiring a secretary or administrative assistant for an office, it would be illegal to test to see if she can solve chemical equations, because it's unlikely to have anything to do with the job position.

Selecting a test for employment requires a job analysis of the role to determine which factors are critical for success. This analysis could be conducted by an industrial organizational psychologist or even a survey. Back in the day, because job analyses were expensive, only large companies could afford to incorporate and benefit from employment tests.

Today, selecting the right test is easier. The Occupational Information Network (O*NET) has a database of hundreds of job titles and a list of the knowledge, skills and abilities that are critical to success on the job. HR Avatar leverages this data to create tests that are specific to the job role. A person only needs to select the job role from the test library. For example, a test for a secretary would evaluate the candidate's attention to detail, analytical thinking, writing skills, typing skills and relevant personality traits that would make someone a productive and helpful employee.

Once you've selected your appropriate job test, send it to your candidates and prepare for the interviewing process.

Shoa Appelman

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