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Pre-Hire Assessments Don’t Always Assess Quality of Hire Accurately

For years, with every job posting drawing hundreds of applications, thinning the herd was a priority for recruiters and hiring managers seeking to narrow the field to just the top talent


One way to accomplish this was to include as many steps as possible at the top of the hiring funnel, ostensibly to weed out those unwilling to go the extra mile for the job and identify those who were “motivated to succeed.”


When jobs were scarce, this may have been a way to identify those most hungry for employment, but with the number of job postings outnumbering the unemployed by 170%, fewer and fewer job seekers are willing to spend their time slogging through a lengthy application and testing process.

6 Types of Pre-Hire Assessments

The entire hiring process is a test that goes both ways: employers are assessing candidates, and candidates are simultaneously assessing employers. Pre-hire assessments can be a part of the process; just remember the candidate will be judging how appropriate the use of these tests feel. 

Job knowledge assessments

Job knowledge tests measure technical expertise in their field. These kinds of tests are most useful for jobs requiring specialized knowledge. However, while they may be able to measure a candidate’s knowledge, they have no way of discerning if that knowledge includes hands-on expertise or is merely theoretical, and won’t reveal learning ability. 

Integrity assessments

Some of the earliest pre-employment assessments were integrity tests. These can be overt, with direct questions about integrity and ethics, or covert, designed to assess personality traits associated with integrity. The good thing about these tests is that they are typically less likely to suffer from unconscious bias.


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Cognitive ability assessments

Cognitive ability tests measure general mental capacity. In the past, this has been strongly correlated to job performance and can be a better indicator than interviews or experience. However, candidates can beat the test with heavy practice beforehand, and cognitive ability tests can be vulnerable to racial and ethnic bias.

Personality assessments

Personality assessments became a favorite of hiring managers when culture fit was all the rage. The hope was to hire people that would fit in well and not make waves. However, many of these tests are self-reported tests, which can lead to misrepresentation on the part of the candidate. Additionally, the way questions are worded and their content can lead to an uncomfortable candidate experience

Emotional Intelligence assessments

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) can help measure how well a candidate understands emotions, which can be indicative of how they build relationships and interact with others. This can correlate lightly to performance, but the drawback is that as another self-reported test, the answers can be manipulated by candidates to try to “beat” the test.

Skills assessments

Skills assessments measure soft skills and/or hard skills. These assessments are extremely time-consuming both for the candidate and the employer and should be reserved for finalists. Candidates who bow out when faced with such tests shouldn’t be automatically written off; they may feel their resume speaks for itself and such a test is a waste of everyone’s time. 


Pre-Hire Assessments Inverse Correlation to QoH

Pre-Hire Assessments Are a Sticking Point for Candidates

When job application processes include multiple or overly long pre-hire assessments, this leads to higher rates of drop-off as candidates abandon the application process. According to an Ere referenced study by ThriveMap


  • 47% of candidates don’t like pre-hire assessments because they take too long
  • 37% are unclear about why they’re taking the assessments
  • 30% feel the assessments don’t relate to the jobs they’ve applied to


Many candidates end up treating the tests as something to “beat”, skewing results, or giving up on the process entirely, removing high-quality talent from the available candidate pool. Obviously, this will adversely affect Quality of Hire.

Pre-Hire Assessments Don’t Accurately Predict Quality of Hire

The idea behind pre-hire assessments is that they can help reduce the number of poor candidates and surface the best matches for the open position. Is that really what happens though? It may come as a surprise to many recruiters and hiring managers that there’s no strong correlation between many pre-hire assessments and Quality of Hire. 


In fact, certain types of pre-hire cognitive assessments actually have an inverse correlation to Quality of Hire, meaning they are not predictive of candidate success (the higher a candidate scored pre-hire, the worse they performed in their role post-hire). 


Crosschq Data Labs recently evaluated a range of different pre-hire assessments, and the findings revealed that 6 out of 10 assessments analyzed were not predictors of Quality of Hire. Not only did most assessment formats fail to show a strong correlation to increased Quality of Hire, but several seemed to work the opposite of what was intended.


Shockingly, for one particular cognitive assessment that has been in use for decades, Crosschq found that 92% of candidates that scored in the top decile of the assessment had a Quality of Hire in the lowest decile.


What does all of this mean? Bottom line: pre-hire assessments should not be the main tool used to determine the potential Quality of Hire.



Should Pre-Hire Assessments Be Abandoned?

Don’t be too quick to abandon the pre-hire assessment. Just recognize which types are most valuable for role-matching. 


Certain pre-hire assessments have proven to be more predictive of success when it comes to role-specific assessments, such as technical assessments for engineers or mock-sales pitches for account executives, and have shown high correlations between those scores and Quality of Hire


In general, personality tests and assessments that vet culture fit have also shown a higher correlation with Quality of Hire. If working closely with others is part of the job description, this could be more or less important based on the responsibilities associated with the role. 


Overall, candidate pre-hire assessments need to be a smaller factor in pre-hire predictions for Quality of Hire, and it’s critical to choose carefully when assembling a pre-hire assessment line-up.


Not all roles will benefit from running candidates through intensive testing pre-hire. Additionally, not all candidates may benefit from the same assessments, depending on what their day-to-day responsibilities and interpersonal touch points will be.


Since many candidate assessments are not only non-predictive but might negatively affect candidate NPS and also increase time to hire, choose carefully and don’t invest time and money on pricey assessments that add complexity and threaten to further bottleneck your hiring funnel.  


It is critical to use evidence-based analysis when evaluating what assessment tools are best for your company. Different roles and different candidates may require a varying assessment line-up. Just make sure you’re not losing top talent because they get bogged down in what seems to them to be an unnecessary and even insulting waste of their time.  


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Alternatives to Pre-Hire Assessments

Instead of a massive battery of pre-hire assessment tests, consider using one or two best suited to determining candidate knowledge and potential Quality of Hire. Then add reference check solution Crosschq 360 to get a full picture of the candidate and their attributes based on scores from themselves, former managers, and peers.


Use results from the Crosschq 360, scores from the assessment test(s), and feedback from collaborative interviews to make data-driven decisions. By spreading out the criteria used to evaluate the candidate over multiple processes, new hires will be selected based on more accurate and dependable information, instead of how well they test or the way they “vibe” with an interviewer.


To learn more about how Crosschq can assist with candidate screening and pre-hire assessments for improved Quality of Hire, contact us for a demonstration today.


Amber West

by Amber West

IO Psychology Sales Consultant

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