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Why don't employers share pre-hire test results with job candidates?
July 6, 2017 8:00:00 PM EDT   By Mike Russiello

After almost 20 years in the pre-employment testing industry, I know most companies do not share their pre-hire test scores with applicants. I used to think this was simply because they wanted to avoid a legal battle. That is certainly true. But after some reflection, I’ve realized it’s more of a symptom than a cause.


Sure, no company wants to get sued. But why would sharing test scores with candidates land them in court?   


The obvious answer is that an unsuccessful candidate could feel the test scores were used unfairly and this contributed to their rejection, so he or she files a legal complaint.


What could cause the candidate to feel that way? I mean, this doesn’t happen (at least not very often) with the standardized tests we complete as part of our application to colleges and universities. So why would it happen with employment?


Most colleges and universities are open about their process for evaluating applications. They often place individual percentages on test scores and other factors. There’s still some subjectivity in their process, but they are clear on just how much. Employers, however, tend to be much more outwardly secretive about how they make hiring decisions. They rarely disclose their full process.


Testing in employment is a tricky thing. There are many different types of tests and they can be used in different ways in the hiring process. Without full disclosure of the entire selection process, a candidate has no way of knowing how much or how little a test score mattered in the ultimate decision. They could easily assume the worst and blame their rejection entirely on the test score. That can lead to the legal challenges employers want to avoid. So, rather than sharing their process, they choose to withhold the scores. Why? Because it’s the easier option.


In other words:


Employers don’t share test scores with applicants because it’s easier to withhold test scores than to document and disclose their hiring decision process.


Is this bad or "nefarious" in some way? Not really. It’s just unfortunate. It leaves candidates wanting for scores, and no company wants to put a bad taste in any candidate’s mouth.


Is it likely to change? Possibly. First, as the labor market tightens, companies become more sensitive to the impression they make on top talent. They may question their current policy and see a chance to separate themselves from their competition. Second, as companies employ better technology in their processes, they may reach the point where the process becomes self-documenting.


So, at some point in the future we may see the more progressive companies start to disclose test scores along with their process in response to demands from the most attractive candidates - who want to know how they did - because it’s really not so hard to do anymore.


So there is hope for the candidates of the future. I wouldn't hold my breath, but the time may come. We'll just have to see.


In the meantime, some companies are taking small steps in the right direction. For instance, HR Avatar has just introduced a new capability that allows candidates to receive a (free) job matching report that uses their pre-hire test scores in addition to their interests to make recommendations about what jobs they appear best suited for. It's simply a way to say thank you to the candidate for taking the test without giving away the actual scores. So far, candidates, and employers, seem to like it!


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