Five Tips for Choosing the Right Pre-Employment Tests for Your Company

Pre-employment tests are preferred by most companies to ensure there is an optimal fit between the candidate and his or her job role. Scientifically-backed and reliable tests will help you make good hiring decisions and reinforce your faith in good candidates.

Sometimes candidates are suspicious of pre-employment tests and view them as discriminatory. It is up to the employer to help the employee understand that testing is a standard procedure and is applicable to every candidate.

Pre-employment tests can be highly useful if you pick and choose the tests most relevant to the position you are hiring for. Safety-sensitive positions may require additional drug or alcohol testing to ensure that the employee does not pose potential threat to safety at workplace.

Here are a few pre-employment tests that will cater to all your needs and will help you choose the best candidate for the job.

1) Take into consideration job knowledge.
Job knowledge tests are used to evaluate a candidate's technical or theoretical expertise in his field of work. If a candidate is appearing for the position of an accountant or a technician, then it is important that you test for subject expertise. This will give a very good idea about the candidate's grasp of the subject. The better he performs in the test, the higher are his chances of performing well on the job.

Tests also involve evaluating a candidate's knowledge of policies, procedures, and laws that are pertinent to performing the job well.

You can choose this test if you are hiring for a position that requires the person to put into use his learning and knowledge of the subject/field.

2) Cognitive ability is important.
Cognitive ability tests aim to measure the overall mental capacity and capabilities of the candidate. The cognitive capacity of the candidate has a strong correlation with his or her job performance. A good score also means that the potential hire is a fast learner and will be able to pick up new skills on the job.

Cognitive tests are a good testing method for educated candidates. General Aptitude Tests are most common method of cognitive testing in workplaces that measure numerical, logical, verbal, and abstract and mechanical reasoning.

Intelligence quotient (IQ) tests are different from cognitive tests, in that the former measures a static value that remains almost unchanged throughout a person’s life. It is also found that IQ is influenced by outside factors like heredity, income and other demographic characteristics. Cognitive function is dynamic and has the drawback that it can be manipulated by practice, experience, and efforts.

It is important that multiple evaluation methods are used and the candidate is not hired on the basis of cognitive evaluation tests alone.

3) Physical ability is critical for certain jobs.
Physical ability tests are carried out to find out whether the candidate will be able to meet the physical demands, requirements, or limitations of the job. The personnel hired must be able to perform the routine tasks in the job with relative ease, without causing harm to themselves or to others.

Physical ability tests have the drawback in that they can often be litigious, because the results may be discriminatory toward women or candidates of certain ethnicities. Some candidates may find it hard to perform strenuous tests like muscular-power tests and may end up injuring themselves, causing further legal problems for the employer.

Monitoring or measuring of heart rate, blood pressure and other vital physiological factors are termed as medical exams, and it is illegal to make a candidate undergo related tests without an express job offer.

To stay on the safe side of labor law, it is necessary you validate the physical ability tests with job-relatedness. A relatively large job analysis database documents the viability of the tests and makes it more legally defensible to conduct the tests. Standardized physical ability tests (PAT) can also be used as a part of maintenance tests to ensure the employees stay physically fit.

4) Personality tests help you choose the right fit.
Personality tests help determine whether or not the candidate has the personality and the temperament that suit the demands of the job and the requirements of the company.

Human behavior and character are a sum total of various psychological and environmental factors affecting the person. Psychometric reports generated by the tests cannot be held binding as to how the employee will behave or perform at the workplace, and should be used in conjunction with other reliable evaluation tools. This will help you make better hiring decisions and have greater chances of success at predicting attitude and workplace behavior of candidates.

Personality tests aim to measure whether a candidate can successfully perform the job, has the necessary will and motivation to do it, and has a personality that can fit in. The Caliper Profile, Gallup StrengthsFinder, and Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire are some of the popular tests used by companies. The controversial Myers-Briggs Type Indicator tests are not being widely used today because they serve more as a self-discovery tool rather than a professional evaluation tool to make hiring decisions.

According to an article in Harvard Business Review personality traits that are most useful to be measured include the ones that are static, and remain unchanged. Measuring a candidate’s state of mind proves to be less useful. The traits should also be normative in nature, in that the scores of competing candidates can be measured. There should also be a "candidness" or a distortion scale that takes into account room for discrepancy or wrong scores. Also, as with any other pre-employment test, reliability and validity are of critical importance to personality tests.

5) Pre-employment drug tests improve safety.
Pre-employment drug tests are also routinely part of the screening process for several jobs, especially for the safety-sensitive jobs that require employees to be sober, alert, and agile.

Employers and companies use drug and alcohol testing as part of their pre-employment screening processes and/or as part of the ongoing regular screenings of employees in safety-sensitive job roles.

You must know that it is not mandatory for most private sector companies to conduct drug and alcohol testing of employees. But, most industries regulated by the government, like aviation, transport, and defense, require that job applicants be screened for drug and alcohol use.

Pre-employment drug and alcohol testing is usually carried out after a formal job offer has been made to the candidate. If the candidate fails to clear the test, the offer is withdrawn. Based on state and federal laws, the rules governing workplace and pre-employment drug and alcohol testing vary.

In pre-employment drug tests, applicants are usually screened for the presence of amphetamines, cocaine, nicotine, opiates, marijuana, alcohol and methamphetamines. Urine and blood tests are routinely used for the purpose of testing. Corporate drug testing for employees includes regular checking for use of drugs or alcohol, especially in critical and safety-centric jobs. Hair drug tests can detect use of specific drugs within a three-month window period, whereas saliva or mouth swab tests can detect use from within a few hours up to a couple of days.

Random drug testing tests employees on a random basis for detectable use of specific drugs or alcohol use above a certain limit. It is important that you set your policies and procedures regarding random drug testing clearly from the beginning to avoid employee discontent. Jobs that involve operating machinery or heavy equipment, or driving and other risky jobs, all call for random drug testing of employees.

The benefits of workplace drug testing are many. Not only is the workplace a safer place, but employee morale also improves and employee turnover and absenteeism decrease. Families of employees are also better off due to abstinence on the part of workers.

Pre-employment tests are very useful screening tools that help employers zero in on suitable candidates for various positions. It is also important to keep in mind that only the most valid and reliable tests that are tailor made to suit the unique needs of your company will give the desired results.

Jane Otterson is a Technical Writer at Confirm BioSciences. She specializes in the biotech sector, specifically now as it pertains to drug testing. She is passionate about making sometimes complicated scientific ideas easy to understand. When she is not writing, she enjoys reading about 3D-printed organs, making fun of programs on the SyFy channel, and playing various board games with family and friends.

Posted on Apr 17, 2017