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Pre-Employment Testing: Pros and Cons

With automation and technology improving on a regular basis, many companies, as never before, are embracing pre-employment testing –with its pros and cons– as a way to ensure that they are able to put the best employees possible in their open positions. 

Pre-employment testing offers a number of advantages, depending on the type of testing and how those tests are constructed—and can help you identify the high-value candidates you need for your organization. However, there are some disadvantages to pre-employment testing, especially if you aren't incorporating the full range of automation and evaluation offered by platforms like the Crosschq suite. 

Pre-Employment Testing: Skills-Based Tests

Skills-based tests are critical for many organizations. You need to know that your new employees have the hard skills necessary to step into your open positions. 

For example, you wouldn't hire for a tech-based position if you didn't believe that the candidate had the skills necessary—or could quickly develop the skills necessary—to fill that open role and complete those job responsibilities. 

Skills-based Testing Pros

Skills-based testing offers a number of critical advantages:

  • It can help you get a better idea of exactly what a candidate can accomplish—which can be vital to determining which candidate is best suited for an open role.
  • It can provide an objective look at a candidate's capability.
  • Tests are the same for every candidate, which means that everyone has the same opportunity.
  • Conducting a skills test can help reduce the time you have to spend on interviews since you can quickly rule out candidates who do not have the skills you need. 

Skills-based Testing Cons

While skills-based tests can provide several advantages, utilizing a skills-based test can offer some disadvantages, too:

  • You may not get a full picture of a candidate’s capability. Some skills tests may not include all the skills a candidate might need, or might focus on a specific area in which a given candidate is not as strong.
  • Some tests are intrinsically biased—often in ways that companies may not recognize.
  • Conducting a skills test may extend the interview process, especially if you need to issue that test to multiple candidates.
  • Some people do not perform as well on a test as they will in a practical scenario, especially if they feel that they are under pressure to perform well.

Pre-Employment Testing: Personality Tests

Personality tests have become an increasingly popular way to identify candidates who are a good culture match for an open position. Not only do hiring managers want to know that they've selected a quality candidate who will perform well in the role, but they also want to know that they have chosen a candidate who will match well with the team as a whole—and who has the personality necessary to enter into the role.

Personality Tests Pros

Considering using a personality test? They can offer some advantages:

  • You can rule out candidates who might not be a good, solid match for your organization as a whole.
  • In creating the test, you may more clearly identify exactly what you're looking for from your ideal candidate.
  • Personality tests can help with the onboarding process since they may give you a better idea of how candidates best learn and what type of support they need in order to excel in an open position. 

Personality Tests Cons

Personality tests do bring with them some challenges that hiring managers must take into account before making them a vital part of the hiring process for their organization:

  • Personality tests are, in some ways, the type of test most likely to introduce bias to the hiring process. They may be biased against minorities or even specific genders, depending on the existing personality of the department.
  • Some people become too stressed by the need to provide a good assessment, which means that you may not get an accurate view of the candidate's personality.
  • Candidates may deliberately lie on personality tests in an effort to create a certain appearance that they feel will be more likely to get them hired. 

Pre-Employment Testing: Cognitive Employment Tests

Cognitive employment tests are designed to help predict the overall likelihood of success for a candidate in a specific position. Often, these tests are designed to test key abilities needed in order to work in a specific position, including things like problem-solving skills, attention to detail, critical thinking, and more. 

Software solutions like Crosschq Analytics can then analyze that information and provide you with deeper insights into what employees will be like in a given role.

Cognitive Employment Testing Pros

Cognitive employment tests offer a number of advantages. They can:

  • Predict candidate success rate, which can help reduce overall churn and cut down on your employment costs.
  • Give you a better idea of what support a candidate might need in order to succeed in a given role.
  • Provide a better look at what candidates are really capable of.
  • Give you a leg up on your competitors by providing you with candidates who are more agile, more capable, and better positioned to make the most of a given role.
  • Get results faster than many other types of tests in a clear, easy-to-measure way that can help you quantify candidate capability.

Cognitive Employment Testing Cons

While cognitive employment tests can provide significant insights, they may have some downsides:

  • Like other types of tests, if not designed correctly, they can be intrinsically biased.
  • Cognitive ability tests may not offer full insight into candidate capability, especially if a candidate feels stressed or under pressure to perform in a certain way.
  • In some cases, cognitive ability tests may not be appropriate for the specific role that you're trying to fill or might measure the wrong types of skills for a given position.

Cognitive ability tests are best used in correlation with other measures of candidate success and capability—and used alongside a comprehensive analytics platform like Crosschq Analytics that can provide you with deeper insights into the candidate's overall likelihood of success and performance.

Pre-Employment Testing: Reference Checks

Reference checks are always a vital part of the hiring process. By connecting with a candidate's references, you can often get a better idea of what it is actually like to work with a candidate and how that candidate performs in a given setting. 

Frequently, reference checks, especially when coupled with questionnaires that offer deeper insights into a candidate's specific skills and capability, can give you a better idea of whether the candidate will be a good match for your organization, how they will perform in the role, and what you should expect from them. 

Software solutions like Crosschq 360 can combine those insights with self-reference checks, job-based surveys, and measurement of insights from peers, coworkers, and managers to create a full 360 picture of candidate accomplishments. 

Reference Checking Pros

Reference checks are a standard part of the hiring process for good reason: most notably, that they can offer more information about a candidate from an outside source, rather than requiring you to rely on what the candidate alone has to say about their skills and capability. The pros are:

  • Reference checks offer a different perspective on candidates.
  • References can provide more insight into candidates' personalities and actual capability, which can be vital to determining whether the candidate is a good match.
  • A pre-hire reference check can help you make final data-backed hiring decisions about a candidate.
  • References can offer more information about the specific type of support a candidate might need in order to excel.

Reference Checking Cons

While reference checks offer a number of advantages, it's important to take the potential disadvantages into consideration so that you can account for bias in your hiring process and reference check:

  • Some references may not provide an unbiased look at the candidate's performance--in either direction. Positive references might come from someone who personally wants the candidate to get the new role, while negative ones might come from someone who has a personal issue with the candidate.
  • References cannot always predict how a candidate will perform in a new role, particularly if the skills required for the two roles are dramatically different. 
  • Reference checks often come near the end of the hiring process, where they cannot fully impact interviews or other key questions you might ask of your candidates.

Pre-employment testing has its pros and cons. However, it is a valuable tool that can help you assess and evaluate the candidates who are interested in your open roles. By automating that process and analyzing the data provided, you can often shorten the hiring process, learn more about potential candidates, and increase your understanding of new hires in a way that will enable you to improve the onboarding process. 

Crosschq can help. Contact us today to learn how our products can give you a deeper understanding of your job candidates, reduce unconscious bias in the hiring process, and help you make more informed data-driven hiring decisions.

Elena Arney

by Elena Arney

Director of People & Culture

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