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5 Pre-Employment Test Trends You Need to Know About


5 Pre-Employment Test Trends You Need to Know About
January 14, 2015, 7:00:00 PM EST   By Shoa Appelman

5 Pre-Employment Test Trends You Need to Know About

2014 was a great year for job growth. December alone added 252,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate fell to 5.6%. American economist Mark Zandi predicts that “At the current pace of job growth, the economy will be back to full employment by early 2016.”

That means that 2015 will be a busy year for hiring managers and HR leaders.

Based on changes to laws, emerging technologies, and an appreciation for data-based hiring decisions, here are some pre-employment assessment trends we expect to see in 2015.

Drug Screening Tests Will Come Down From their High.

This year, marijuana will become legal in 20 states. And pre-employment drug testing could become a legal minefield for prospective employers. Even the Washington DC council has passed a temporary law that bans employers from drug testing a job candidate before there is a conditional offer of employment. Safety-sensitive positions will likely continue to conduct periodic testing, and the benefits of pre-employment drug testing remain, but employers in states that have approved medicinal and/or recreational use of marijuana need to check with their local Chamber of Commerce to understand how revised laws apply to them.

We’ll See a Logical Shift Towards Knowledge, Skill, and Ability Tests.

As the Bard, William Shakespeare once said, “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” The wise hiring managers this year will use proven selection instruments to assist with hiring decisions.

With the average length of an employee’s job tenure at 3 years for employees between the ages of 25-34, it’s increasingly important to identify job applicants who can be effective on the job, quickly.

The best way to identify applicants who learn quickly is to use cognitive tests. Personality tests will be on the decline. As you'll recall, last year’s popular Wall Street Journal piece on the legal implications of personality testing shed light on some of the limitations of personality testing: an employee’s personality does not predict whether the person can learn the job tasks quickly or think critically.

Hiring managers will turn to objective pre-employment tests that can evaluate whether a candidate can do the job or learn the job quickly, such as Cognitive Tests and Work Sample (Simulation) tests.

Cognitive Tests Are More Predictive

Personnel Testing Council presenter Dr. Scott Highhouse from Bowling Green State University reminded a group of practitioners in November that cognitive assessments are even more reliable than structured interviews at predicting employee success. Here are some numbers:

Cognitive Tests Are More Predictive

Source: Dr. Scott Highhouse, Personnel Testing Council Presentation Nov. 2014

Cognitive Tests, Knowledge Test, and Work Sample, or Simulation, tests were the strongest pre-employment selection decision aids, stronger than personality tests and interviews.

Testing Will Be Easy.

Small businesses added 106,000 jobs between November 2014 and December 2014. As they continue to grow, small businesses will want to leverage hiring best practices of larger firms. However, they have neither the time nor money to invest in complex pre-employment processes or selection tools that require lengthy training and dedicated administrators. They want tools that make their lives easier. Small and medium sized businesses will turn to tools that offer accessible off-the-shelf assessments, like HR Avatar (full disclosure: I work for HR Avatar) or Smarterer (recently acquired by Pluralsight), that are designed to begin applicant testing within minutes.

We Will Welcome Mobile Testing and Reporting With Open Thumbs.

Even though 77% of people between the ages of 16 to 34 use mobile devices for their job search, only 10% of Fortune 500 companies offer mobile friendly application processes. And of those 10%, even less offer mobile assessments.

Pre-employment test providers are guilty of technology lag. Most assessment platforms are designed to display rich media, like videos, in Flash. Flash does not work on mobile browsers or most tablets. Additionally, if you felt as though you were constantly updating your Flash plug-in in 2014, you were not hallucinating. There were 15 security updates for Flash in 2014 alone, meaning that there 15 different opportunities for assessments to break depending on the end-user’s configuration.

Some assessment providers, like HR Avatar, embraced the mobile revolution years ago. And other companies are working to catch up.

2015 is going to see a shift towards HTML5. Hiring managers and leaders know to ask: “Will this test work on a mobile device?” Because if they don’t, applicants who are using their tablets – and are unable to complete the application because of it - will wonder why the company they are applying to is using antiquated technology.

Social Media and Pre-Employment Candidate Screening Relationship Status: It’s Complicated.

In 2014, 2 in 5 employers used social networks to screen candidates. 76% used Facebook, 53% used Twitter, and 48% used LinkedIn. Almost half of employers said that they found information online that deterred them from hiring a candidate.

Smart candidates are getting wise to the ways of employers and tailoring their profiles accordingly. While employers cannot legally request access to a user’s social media account, information readily available on the web, for example an open twitter account, can be used to make hiring decisions.

However, employers should be careful to keep their candidate research legal. Best practice is to incorporate social media research into your hiring process after the job interview. This way, you can avoid discriminating against candidates based on protected characteristics.

Conclusion and Next Steps

2015 is going to be a hiring year, and hiring managers are responsible for bringing on employees who will make their team better. And with great responsibility comes great understanding of changes to pre-employment testing, which include:

1. Companies in 20 states will have to check their drug screening policies.
2. More tests will measure knowledge, skills, and cognitive ability.
3. Test administrators should be able to send tests in less than a minute.
4. Every test should be mobile-ready.
5. Standardized use of social media during the screening process.

If you are interested in improving your hiring process this year, and you want to explore a vendor that provides objective, easy-to-use, and mobile-ready assessments (spoiler alert, it's us here at HR Avatar) consider signing up for a free trial.

Or, download our latest whitepaper to learn more about employment testing and objective hiring decisions.

Download Whitepaper

Shoa Appelman

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