Pros and Cons of Pre- Employment Assessment Tests
Posted by Irenia Diaz on April 20th, 2021
It’s been more than 50 years since companies started using pre-employment testing. Despite some indication that personality is little related to job performance, personality tests are a multi-million dollar industry. All tests have their merits, but they are far from perfect. To help you decide whether to include pre-employment assessment tests in your recruiting process, we have put together an overview of the pros and cons.
Tests are more objective than other forms of assessment
Unstructured interviews, resume screenings, and pre-interview calls are ineffective predictors of job performance. This is because recruiters and hiring managers often judge candidates based on subjective, rather than job-related, criteria. Tests work differently. If they’re well-designed, they can help you draw more objective conclusions. Well-designed tests are valid - they measure what they are designed to measure and reliable - they produce consistent results.
Tests are the same for everyone
Other assessment methods like screening calls and unstructured interviews can be unfair. Interviewers ask different questions to different candidates, and there’s no consensus on how to rate candidates’ answers. By contrast, tests are standardized and administered in the same way to all candidates. If they are crafted according to strictly job-related criteria, they give everyone the same opportunity to succeed.
Tests can be discriminatory
This seems to be a paradox since pre employment assessment tests are relatively objective. But cognitive ability and knowledge tests can disproportionately screen out non-white candidates. This can result in costly lawsuits. One example is a 2012 discrimination case where a company had to pay 0,000 in back wages to minority workers it rejected through a pre-employment test. Some personality and physical ability tests can break anti-discrimination laws if they’re trying to diagnose a mental or physical condition that’s unrelated to the job. For example, in 2006, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) won a lawsuit against a company that screened out female applicants through a ‘strength’ test.
Tests invite lies
Drug tests can’t be easily faked, but that’s not necessarily true for all tests. For example, if you ask candidates to complete integrity and work ethics tests, you can expect candidates to occasionally fake their answers. This doesn’t always happen consciously. People tend to present themselves in the best possible light referred to as social desirability bias). And we are more likely to misrepresent ourselves when a job is at stake. For example, extraversion is usually highly valued in the workplace. If a personality test asks candidates to rate their social skills, you can expect that few candidates, if any, will rate themselves as anti-social.
Tests and their results are often ambiguous
Integrity tests are a good example. You might have come across one that asks you to indicate whether you agree or disagree with statements like “morality is important.” But how can you be sure there will be a consensus among candidates on what this sentence means? Some people might think it means treating others fairly. But others might associate morality with religion. This kind of ambiguity can give you unreliable results.
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