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So - really - why are you testing your job candidates?
December 20, 2016 7:00:00 PM EST   By Mike Russiello

So, why are you testing your job candidates?

Image portraying pre-employment testing The conventional wisdom is simple. Study after study shows show that a bad hire can cost a company one half to five times the annual salary of the person who is hired. If a test can help you avoid just one bad hire, it provides a high return on investment since the cost of a test is very low compared to the cost of a bad hire.

On the upside, if a test can help you focus your attention on a person who is likely to be a top performer, the payoff to the company relative to the small testing fee is even more significant.

So then, is that why companies use tests?

Well, the answer is - yes, mostly. Sure, everyone wants to hire great people and avoid poor performers. Performance - matters. But people also use tests to accomplish some other purposes, some of which may surprise you. Here’s a list I’ve compiled over the years:

  1. They need to find people who will stick with the job and not quit after a short time, or after significant training has been invested in them. In other words, they want to avoid turnover.
  2. They may need to produce legally defensible, objective data in order to backup their employment decisions in a court of law.
  3. The recruiting department is overwhelmed with applications - and they need some kind of automated means of sorting candidates. Anything that differentiates them would be helpful.
  4. They want to change the culture of the team and are looking for people who fit the new culture they are trying to achieve. Along the same lines, an executive may have “decided” what kind of people he or she wants to hire and the test is meant to identify people who have this one critical quality, whether it is connected with performance or not.
  5. There is a desire to give all candidates something in return for their effort - by providing coaching via a score report that they can benefit from whether they get the job or not.
  6. They want to see how badly the candidate wants the job. They want to ignite the competitive spirit of their candidates to see how far they will go to distinguish themselves.
  7. The recruiters don’t trust the hiring managers to perform effective hiring interviews, and so they use the test to justify the candidate they have already selected.
  8. The company wants to show the candidate what they can expect if they get the job.
  9. The recruiter wants to give the hiring manager something to talk about during hte interview, or wants to facilitate a group session among candidates where they can discuss the test.

I’m sure there are probably even some other reasons. Interestingly, none of these seem all that crazy when you think about it. It all depends on the company’s unique situation. Who'd have thought there were so many potential reasons out there.

Why should I care?

Image portraying pre-employment testing They key takeaway is to know what you are looking for when you administer a test, and this is important, because different tests work better for different purposes. For instance, if you are looking for performance on the job, it’s been proven time and again that cognitive testing, such as that included in HR Avatar’s job specific tests, is the most useful measurement. However, if you are seeking exclusively to avoid turnover, then more of a behavioral history survey might be most useful. Interestingly, these are also included in HR Avatar’s job-specific tests. If you want to provide feedback to all candidates, you need a test that produces a developmental report.

Anyway, the message is clear - know what you are testing, and use a test that suits this purpose.

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