Companies have used employment tests to filter out applicants for over fifty years. From personality tests to skill assessments, employers want to know as much about a candidate as they can before the make a hire. Employment tests can assist with making better hiring decisions, but these tests are also flawed. Understanding the pros and cons can help you determine if you should include testing in your recruitment process.

Skill Assessments

The most appropriate time to perform a skill assessment is early on in the hiring process. If you have a large number of applicants, a skill assessment can help you narrow the applicant pool to a more manageable size. This can save time during the interview phase. If designed well, a skill test will filter candidates better than resume screening and pre-interviewing because it is a more objective way to evaluate if a candidate has the skill set needed to perform the job. The questions on the assessment should be analyzed carefully. Be positive that the questions measure what they are designed to measure and produce consistent results.

The downside of skill assessments is that it is impossible to account for every possible relevant skill. A job test will assess specific knowledge, but it will not assess more general skills, such as how quickly the candidate learns. This is limiting, because unless you give multiple assessments, you are only going to get a partial overview of the candidates’ skills. More importantly, aptitude on an assessment does not directly correlate to good work performance.

Personality and Cognitive Tests

Personality tests are more problematic. Personality is not an indicator of positive performance either. There is also much more to consider when designing a personality assessment. The American Psychological Association (APA) has strict guidelines that they use to determine whether a psychological test is valid and reliable. Although popular, personality tests are not necessarily a good indicator of performance on the job. The answers can be skewed if the responses are selected entirely on what is perceived to be the response the employer wants.

While certain job positions do require specify cognitive abilities, it is often better to avoid such tests. These types of assessment have a long history of being discriminatory.

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