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Everything A Small Business Owner Needs To Know About Pre-Employment Testing

pre-employment testing

“You can’t teach employees to smile. They have to smile before you hire them.” – Arte Nathan, Wynn Las Vegas

Let’s be honest. It’s tough to be a small business owner. You feel like you’re permanently at work, have no time for your family, let alone for leisure activities.

As far as vacations are concerned, well… What vacations? You know that without sacrifices you won’t get successful and make your business thrive, so you don’t take any vacations.

You barely have enough time for all your duties and responsibilities. That’s the truth.

However, as time goes by and your business develops, you start realizing that you could find more free time if you had help. So, you decide to hire your first employee.

It seems to be a wonderful solution to your problems, indeed. But, the question is, how to find and hire the ideal person for the job?

Hiring Your First Employee: The Pain

Did you know that in 2016, 62% of small business owners reported hiring the wrong person for the job? That’s right! Over half of small business owners admitted making the wrong hire. What were the consequences?

  • Financial burden,
  • Negative impact on the company’s reputation,
  • Emotional effect: frustration, stress and discouragement,
  • Loss of time, as well as…
  • Product error and loss of customers.

Sounds horrible, doesn’t it? And yet, there are many business owners who have to deal with these consequences each and every year.

The truth is, it’s easy to make the wrong hire. All you need to do is to make one of these mistakes:

Mistake #1 – Hiring based on looks and image

It has been proven that physical attractiveness influences employers’ judgments of job applicants.

Since attractive people are thought to be more sociable, happier as well as more successful in life than unattractive people, many hire based on looks. The problem is that what’s beautiful is not always good.

Unless you’re searching for a model, a hostess or a flight attendant, fabulous appearance is a criterion that shouldn’t matter. After all, what use will you have of a SEO expert or an architect who looks great, but has no skills? None. And yet, many employ such people.

Mistake #2 – Hiring a person not suited to remote work

Many small business owners forget that when hiring a remote worker, they have to take into consideration not only their skills, but also their personality type.

That’s right! Remote work isn’t suitable for everyone. The right person for the job should have high self-discipline, be able to cope with loneliness, deal with numerous distractions as well as maintain a healthy work and life balance.

Thus, some people flourish as remote workers, especially introverts who prefer working alone, thrive in quiet environments, hate being interrupted by coworkers and need peace to get creative.

Extroverts, on the other hand, might find remote work hard and depressing, for they need a lot of social interaction and attention in order to stay healthy. So, remote work can be a challenge too difficult for them to bear.

Mistake #3 – Hiring for education instead of skills

The question is, does a degree prove a person has the right skills for a job? No, it doesn’t.

The problem with schools, universities and colleges nowadays is that they don’t give their students any practical experience. Thus, a degree is a proof a person has some theoretical knowledge, but not necessarily skills.

Also, education-based hiring overlooks people without degrees who could actually be great fits for the job. After all, no degree doesn’t mean no skills.

Mistake #4 – Hiring based on the resume and interview only.

There are two reasons why hiring based on resume and interview doesn’t work.

First of all, everybody lies. The fact that someone wrote on their resume that he or she is a skilful writer doesn’t mean it’s really true. How can you tell if you haven’t read any of their articles?

You can’t, which brings us to the second reason: resume and the interview don’t prove a person you want to hire has the skills he or she needs to get a job. The fact that a person claims to have them doesn’t mean he or she really does.

As a result, many employers who hire employees based on resume and interview only, get disappointed and frustrated later when they figure out their new worker, in reality, isn’t skilful at all.

If we consider the four types of hiring mistakes discussed above, we can conclude that they have something in common. They wouldn’t happen if one component was added to the hiring process.

That component would prevent an employer from hiring the wrong employee. It’s called: pre-employment testing.

Pre-Employment Tests: What Are They?

pre-employment tests

Pre-employment tests can be defined as an unbiased way of gathering data about a job applicant during the hiring process. They include the testing of:

  • Language proficiency,
  • Personality type,
  • Cognitive aptitude,
  • Motor and physical skills,
  • Emotional intelligence, as well as…
  • Work skills.

All professionally developed pre-employment tests are an efficient and trustworthy way of checking skills, capabilities as well as personality traits of a job candidate. Many companies of all sizes have already added pre-employment testing to their hiring process and see a number of positive results.

Research proves that the majority of successful companies endorse pre-employment testing, for it enables them to check how capable a candidate would be on the job in a quick and efficient way. Thus, they can easily distinguish between those candidates who are underqualified, inept, or lack creativity, critical thinking skills or patience, and those who are skilful, qualified and have a high possibility to thrive on a job. Moreover, the process is short and effortless.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of using pre-employment tests in the hiring process.

Pre-Employment Testing: What Is The Positive And The Negative Side?

Nothing is perfect. That’s a fact. Thus, using pre-employment tests in the hiring process has both benefits and drawbacks. The question is, are there more positives than negatives? And, are the negatives serious enough to give up on pre-employment tests? Well, let’s figure it out!

The Benefits:

1. Objectivity

When you read a job applicant’s resume, you make subjective assumptions about them, which can actually be untrue.

For instance, rich educational background is a sign of intelligence, knowledge, skills and the ability to learn new things. Now, consider, does it mean that a person without a degree cannot have high IQ, be skillful and able to develop their knowledge? No, not at all. Thus, your opinion is biased.

The same goes with interviews. When you conduct an interview you’re assessing a person in a subjective rather than objective way, because you are influenced by the way they look, behave and speak. It means that instead of hiring a person based on their skills and aptitudes, you’re doing it based on their appearance.

Pre-employment tests, on the other hand, are a life saving boat. They can help you assess your job candidates in an objective way, because they test person’s skills as well as aptitudes, not looks. They also don’t leave any room for subjective assumptions. Instead, they provide objective conclusions.

2. Fairness

Thanks to pre-employment tests you can evaluate your job applicants in the same way, which is impossible to do during an interview.

Consider, there are ten people who sent in their resumes and you’re about to interview them. Now, ask yourself, are you able to give every job candidate the same chances on getting a job? Will you be asking them the same questions? It’s highly unlikely, isn’t it?

After all, every person has a different background, appearance as well as employment history. Thus, you’re not only biased but also unable to decide who gave better answers.

Here, pre-employment tests present a wonderful solution. They will help you to give every person the same chances for getting a job.

3. Time-saving

Let’s be honest, reading resumes, preparing for an interview and conducting it takes a lot of time and leaves you exhausted.

Moreover, if you’re unhappy with all your job applicants, then the time spent interviewing them is a wasted time. Time you could otherwise spent building your website, writing great content to inspire your readers or searching for clients.

Here, pre-employment tests have the advantage, for they allow you to save time. Therefore, instead of going through dozens of questions during an interview that are supposed to evaluate if a person would work great in a team or if they’d be able to solve problems, you can figure it out from a test.

It’s simple, fast and easy for you as well as less stressful for your job candidates. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

4. Appraisal of skills

When you conduct an interview, it’s easy to change the topic and start asking questions unrelated to the job.

Also, sometimes employers make the decision about hiring a person based on their intuition, which not always is an advantage. They can unconsciously arrive at the wrong conclusion, especially if a job applicant talks his or her way into getting the position.

On the other hand, pre-employment tests prevent you from using your gut feeling when choosing your new employee and they shield you from being manipulated by a person who is desperate to get the job. That means, you’ll be able to make a decision based on a person’s skills, not looks or behavior.

The Drawbacks:

1. One test isn’t enough

Every test focuses on checking specific skills or traits. It means that some details can be missed or not evaluated.

For example, tests designed to check the knowledge of a candidate about a job will show if they possess that knowledge, but won’t show if the person is willing to improve it and learn new things.

Also, a personality test will show you if a person is an introvert or an extrovert, but that’s not enough to predict their job performance.

Thus, in order to get an entire picture of skills and aptitudes of your job candidates, you might have to put them through several tests instead of one. This can make your possible future employees feel tired and discouraged.

2. Tests invite lies

Everyone needs and wants to get the job you’re offering, which means there’s a huge competition between your job applicants.

Some will do immoral things to get it, such as manipulating you into hiring them or lying about many aspects of their life.

Tests, such as those that check personality type, are usually those inviting lies.

How come? Well, put yourself in a job applicant’s shoes. If you were asked to write whether you’re sociable, easy going and feel great when working in a group, and you happen to be an introvert, what would you do?

Remember, you want the job. What is the possibility you’ll tell the truth about yourself? Pretty small, isn’t it? After all, no one wants their employer to assume they are lonely wolves or anti-social people. Who would hire them?

3. Tests don’t encourage finding a diverse team

A diverse team of skilful employees is a huge asset for a business or a company. It has been proven that it can result in market growth, greater innovation, and even, it can drive better financial results.

Now, pre-employment tests don’t help you find variation and diversity, but similarities between people. They make us seem all the same, because we can all respond in the same way to the same questions. Thus, tests can hinder finding a diverse team.

The 3 Disadvantages: Is The Devil As Black As He Is Painted?

The question we need to ask now is, should small business owners be concerned about the disadvantages of pre-employment tests?

Yes, they should. However, does it mean they should give up on testing their candidates during the hiring process? No, they shouldn’t.

The trick lies in finding the middle ground. In order to assess vital skills of an employee, you don’t have to use a dozen tests. Two tests might be enough and, when added to the interview as well as resume check, they will help you choose the best talent.

Also, lying is common not only to tests, but also to interviews and resumes. Thus, you cannot shield yourself entirely from untruthful answers.

As far as diversity in a group is concerned, it is an issue. But, when searching for a team of remote workers, it can be less significant than hiring onsite employees who would work together every day.

That said, pre-employment tests are a vital part of the hiring process and have a number of benefits for you as well as your job candidates. They are the best means you can use to find a qualified employee.

Now, before we start discussing the types of pre-employment tests, we need to address one serious issue. That is…

Pre-Employment Tests: Are They Legal?

legal pre-employment test

Pre-employment tests are legal provided that they are focused on job-related skills, abilities and personality type. If they require you to give any personal information that can be used to discriminate, for example: sex, race, color, religion, nationality, age or disability, they become illegal.

In order to make sure the pre-employment test you want to use in your hiring process doesn’t break the law, follow these tips:

  • Make sure the test is job-related,
  • Validate your test (make sure you conform to The Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures; you can find them here),
  • Evaluate all your current and future employees in the same way (i.e. use the same tests).

Pre-Employment Tests: What Are The Types Of Tests I Can Use?

Let’s take a look at 5 most popular tests that you can use to evaluate skills, aptitudes and personality of your future employees:

1. Job knowledge tests

The purpose of creating a job knowledge test is to check if your job applicant possesses technical and/or theoretical expertise in a certain field of knowledge.

For instance, an SEO expert should be able to answer intricate questions about building backlinks, how to analyze client’s competitors or how to do programming in HTML.

Job knowledge tests are useful for jobs where specialized knowledge as well as high expertise is a must. However, they have one flaw.

Job knowledge tests don’t test a person’s learning ability. Thus, they overlook those candidates that might not have much knowledge about the job, but be fast learners.

Also, if you want to use such a test, bear in mind that knowing something in theory and being able to use that knowledge in practice, well, those are two different things.

Depending on the type of the job, you can create such a test yourself. Use the Internet to help you figure out the right questions to ask your future employee.

2. Job skills tests

Sometimes called “work samples,” job skills tests require a person to finish tasks that are similar or the same to those they’d have to perform on the job. They check the level of skills and competence of your future employee.

How does it look in practice? It’s simple. If you’re searching for a writer, you can ask your job candidates to write an article for you or create a specific document in Microsoft Word. The test should allow them to demonstrate how well they deal with the tasks they are going to be performing if they get the job.

A job skills test has two important advantages for employees as well as employers:

  1. It gives a job candidate realistic overview of what tasks he or she would have to perform on the job,
  2. It’s more acceptable than other pre-employment tests by job applicants, since there’s an obvious link between the job and the test.

3. Personality tests

personality test

A personality test assesses if a person has certain traits that would help him or her to deal with the job and be successful.

Among the most oftenly checked personality features are extroversion and introversion, optimism and pessimism, conscientiousness, openness to new experiences and stress tolerance. They also measure work satisfaction, behavior as well as interactions with others.

Personality tests are the best tests to use if you’re searching for people who would find it easy to work in a group or those who wouldn’t mind working remotely.

Thus, if you figure out your job candidate is an introvert with a low score of assertiveness and openness, you can assume, they might not be the best salespeople or project managers, but they could do great in an accounting position.

If you’re interested in using a personality test during the hiring process, here are a few of popular personality tests for you to consider:

  • Myers-Briggs test: it investigates psychological preferences of a person in how he or she makes decisions and perceives the world around them.
  • 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF): it measures 16 personality factors that your personality is thought to consist of. The test comprises of 164 statements about yourself and takes 10-15 min to complete.
  • The 4 Temperaments Test: it shows which of the 4 temperaments is predominant in an individual (sanguine, choleric, melancholic or phlegmatic).

4. Cognitive ability tests

Cognitive ability tests focus on measuring an individual’s ability to learn quickly, reason, think logically or memorize. They also check reading comprehension, skills in arithmetic and other mental abilities that are necessary in a number of jobs.

The purpose of cognitive tests is to show if a person would be able to solve job-related problems and succeed in performing tasks on the job.

These tests are better at predicting person’s job performance than an interview or the overview of experience and work history. Also, they can be purchased or found online.

5. Integrity tests

Integrity tests, also known as “honesty tests,” provide employers with information about such personality features as trustworthiness, honesty, reliability and sociability.

They do so by asking questions about past experiences related to integrity and ethics, or ask questions about person’s hobbies, interests and preferences. This allows to predict future behavior of a job applicant in the discussed areas.

The basic reason why employers would use an integrity test is to identify those job applicants whose behavior would be dishonest, inappropriate and anti-social in the workplace. Just as cognitive ability tests, integrity tests can be bought or found on the Internet (check here).

These are the 5 types of tests used most often during the hiring process. However, those are not all types of tests you can find and use when assessing your future employee. Here are the names of other tests that you can also find useful:

  • Emotional intelligence test,
  • Physical ability test,
  • English proficiency test, or…
  • Intelligence (IQ) test,

Check them all and use those that meet your requirements best.

Pre-Employment Tests: How Should I Conduct Them?

conducting pre employment test in hiring

Pre-employment tests can substitute other forms of hiring procedures, such us the interview and resume check, or, supplement them. It is your choice if you want to rely entirely on the tests or use them as an addition to the common hiring procedure, which will help you make the employment decision.

You can conduct pre-employment tests at any time: instead of the interview, before, during or after the interview. The decision is yours.

Also, pre-employment tests can be conducted in a form of a written test or they can be filled in online. You are free to choose the option that you find easiest and the most comfortable.

Wrapping it up

All employers strive to find and employ the best talent. However, finding a qualified person for a job is a tough thing to do. Sometimes you get cheated, manipulated or rely on your gut feeling when hiring a new employee. As a result, later, you regret your decision.

In order to make sure such situations don’t happen to you, add pre-employment personality testing to your hiring process. It will help you find qualified candidates who have the most chances of thriving on the job and becoming successful. People you’ll be proud to have in your team.

About the Author:

emily johnsonEmily Johnson is a blogger and a content strategist at OmniPapers.com. She is also a contributor to many websites about career advice, productivity, work issues, college life, blogging and writing. You can always find more works of hers on Twitter.

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