Pre-Employment Testing explained by expert Dr. Michael Mercer. Pre-employment tests are tests that organizations give to job applicants to help them hire employees who are productive, dependable, and low-turnover.
What does research say about Pre-Employment Tests?
Research on pre-employment tests and other prediction methods indicate pre-employment tests are the most accurate method to predict how an applicant may perform on-the-job, if hired. In contrast, interviews typically are a lousy method to predict an applicant’s job performance. Also, reference checks, unfortunately, are quite useless, because many companies refuse to reveal negative information about their former employees.
What are pre-employment test validity and reliability?
Use pre-employment tests only if they were created using research to establish the test is both (a) valid and (b) reliable.
Validity of a pre-employment test means the test accurately predicts or forecasts exactly what it is meant to predict. For example, if one scale or section of the pre-employment test aims to predict if a job applicant is teamwork-oriented, then that test scale is valid only if it accurately measures how much or how little an applicant likes teamwork.
Reliability of a pre-employment test means a test reliably or consistently measures what it is supposed to measure. For instance, if multiple questions predict Teamwork, then those Teamwork questions must overall measure Teamwork and not some other factor. Also, test-retest reliability means if a job applicant takes the pre-employment test one day and then takes the same test at a later date, then the applicant’s scores should be the same at both times.
Summary: Use pre-employment tests only if they were created using research to establish the test is both (a) valid and (b) reliable.
What “Assessments” Are NOT Pre-Employment Tests?
Pre-employment tests are researched and created specifically to test job applicants. In contrast, some organizations mistakenly use “assessments” meant for training or team building with current employees when they evaluate job applicants.
This is wrong to do – for important reasons.
For starters, such “assessments” are not researched, designed, nor justifiable for pre-employment testing of job applicants. Also, if questions are raised about using such “assessments,” the organization certainly will have difficulty justifying why it used an “assessment” meant for training or team building to evaluate job applicants.
So, only use pre-employment tests that actually are researched and designed to test job applicants. Do not use “assessments” that are not researched, designed, meant for, nor justifiable to evaluate job applicants.
What Types of Tests Might You Use?
Three types of pre-employment tests can help you hire the best.
1. Mental or Cognitive Abilities Tests – help you predict job-related cognitive abilities, such as
a. Problem-Solving Ability
b. Vocabulary Ability
c. Arithmetic Ability
d. Grammar, Spelling & Word Use Ability
e. Ability to Handle Small Details with Speed & Accuracy
2. Behavior or Personality Tests – help you predict important:
a. Interpersonal Skills
b. Personality Traits
3. Dependability or Responsibility Tests – help you predict key factors, such as,
a. Honesty on test
b. Work Ethic
c. Impulsiveness (e.g., safety, accidents, & conflict concerns)
d. Stealing / Theft concern
e. Substance Abuse concern
Why are pre-employment tests so accurate at predicting actual job performance?
Pre-employment tests that work well are created after doing years of in-depth research. The research finds out which test questions work best in the test, plus makes sure the test is both reliable and valid.
Will Pre-Employment Test “Catch” Job Applicants Who Lie on Test?
Personality and dependability or responsibility tests must include method to spot liars – dishonest applicants who try to outwit the tests.
Unfortunately, most tests do not “catch” liars!
They unwisely look for “consistent” answers to certain questions – which is very easy for applicants to figure out + outwit!
Important = Only use pre-employment personality, dependability or responsibility tests that include well-researched method to “catch” liars.
Recommendation: Always ask an Industrial & Business Psychologist who created pre-employment tests, such as Dr. Michael Mercer, how the test will “catch” applicants who answer dishonestly or lie.