Pre-Employment Testing and Assessments: Best Practices and Benefits

Pre-Employment Testing and Assessments: Best Practices and Benefits

Pre-Employment Testing and Assessments: Best Practices and Benefits

Employers need all the data they can get on applicants if they want to make informed hiring decisions. One of the most invaluable tools available to them is the pre-employment test, also known as an assessment test.

 Assessment tests help employers evaluate a job applicant’s soft skills, cognitive capabilities, intelligence, leadership potential, and more. They can help give employers an idea of how qualified a candidate is at meeting the demands of a specific position or how well an applicant might fit into their workplace culture.

 When used properly, assessment tests are valuable assets that can contribute to a comprehensive and holistic employee hiring process.

 Reasons to provide pre-employment testing

There is one universally agreed upon reason why pre-employment tests are worth the resources: cost. The average cost per hire, according to an SHRM study involving over 2,000 respondents, is $4,129. This is a significant cost for most companies out there, and it becomes even more costly if the new hire isn’t a good fit for your organization.

Outside of cost, there are other good reasons for implementing a pre-employment test. 

  • Helps you assess if a job applicant fills the specific needs and qualifications of a particular role
  • Helps you assess if an applicant is a good fit for your workplace culture and organization 
  • Pre-employment tests are proven to improve quality of hires
  • Skills tests help remove some human bias from the hiring process
  • Skills tests can decrease employee turnover
  • Pre-employment tests help you get an idea of the long-term potential of an applicant


Pre-employment testing isn’t an all-in-one solution, but these tests can be invaluable assets when employed alongside other pre-employment screening and assessment methods.  

Pre-employment Screening vs Assessment

While there is some crossover between pre-employment screening and assessments, there are some key differences between the two, and understanding those differences can help you hone your employee selection process. 

Pre-employment screening refers to the process of narrowing down applicants from a talent pool based on a number of criteria and factors. Screening typically takes place early in the hiring process, and it involves a process of evaluating data, usually through a screening tool, that helps filter or screen aspects of an applicant’s profile–location, number of years of experience, degree, salary expectations, etc.–until you have a set of applicants that meet all of your needs. 

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Assessments and job applicant skills testing, on the other hand, can take place either during the interview phase or in the screening phase. A hiring test is also more narrowly defined, allowing employers to home in on a specific aspect of an applicant's capabilities or individual skills. These include communication skills, cognitive capabilities, emotional intelligence, leadership potential, multi-tasking and team-work potential, and more. 

While screening looks at broad aspects, qualifications, and aspects of a potential hire, pre-employment tests are all about skills, interpersonal/mental capabilities, and personality traits. 

How to implement Pre-employment Testing for your Organization

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to pre-employment testing, but there are ways to create a plan for assessment tests that fit in with your needs and employment goals.

You should select a test that fits what you most value or require for your specific role, situation, or company. If you want to cultivate talent for the future, you might consider utilizing a leadership assessment test. If you need a specialist to competently enter a new role on all cylinders, a skills or job knowledge test would best suit you. 

Below are some of the things you should consider when deciding on which assessment to test to implement into your hiring process. 

  • What is the purpose of the test? What are you trying to identify in an applicant?
  • How valid is the test you’re implementing? Is it from a trusted source or an inexpensive alternative?
  • Does the test align with your brand and mission statement?
  • When is the best time in the hiring process to utilize the test? Will you utilize it while screening applicants or apply it to the interview process? Assessment tests during screening are often time-consuming and may turn away top talent, but it can help you narrow down your selection if you don’t want to spend too much time interviewing. 
  • Does the test highlight bias mitigation? 

After the test, you want to aggregate your data over time. Was the test useful in helping your hiring leaders make decisions? Were they accurate in helping you find applicants who fit your needs? Did the applicant turn out to be a good long-term fit for the company? Obviously, some of these will take time to answer, but it’s necessary to collect and analyze your data to determine the efficacy of a pre-employment test in your hiring process. 

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Topics from this blog: Reference Check Talent Acquisition

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