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Talent Assessment | 2 Min Read

A Primer on Pre-Employment Assessments

I am often asked by hiring mangers why they should use pre-employment testing or assessments. The answer is simple – organizations can significantly increase the likelihood of hiring high-quality candidates by using assessments to help screen and select the best candidates for jobs. Administered correctly, pre-employment testing can help organizations save time and cost in the selection process, decrease turnover, increase productivity, and improve morale.

What are pre-employment assessments?

Pre-employment assessments are used to screen job applicants and can include testing of cognitive abilities, knowledge, work skills, physical and motor abilities, personality, emotional intelligence, language proficiency, and even integrity. Organizations use assessments to find the candidates most likely to succeed in the open positions and to screen out those who are unqualified.

Why are they used?

By helping companies identify the “right” candidates – those most likely to perform well on the job – pre-employment testing can lead to additional benefits, such as saving time and cost in the selection process, decreasing turnover, and even improving morale.

What are the key issues in using pre-employment assessments?

While there can be dramatic benefits gained from using testing in the employee selection process, there are two potential issues organizations need to understand prior to implementing any assessments.

The first issue is validity, i.e., whether or not the test measures the specific criterion it is supposed to measure and can predict future job performance or success. Validity should be proven prior to the assessment being implemented. This is usually done by calculating the validity coefficient – i.e., the correlation between the test scores and predicted job performance. The higher the number the greater the likelihood that those who do well on the test do well in performing the job and those who score poorly on the test perform poorly on the job.

The second issue is reliability, i.e., the consistency with which a test measures an item. For a test to be reliable, an individual’s score should be about the same every time the individual takes it. If someone takes the test on one day and scores high, then takes the test a week later and receives a low score, the test is probably not very reliable. A test should consistently measure traits; otherwise it will be of little value in predicting a candidate’s future job performance. As with validation, test reliability should be proven prior to the test being implemented.

Tips for using pre-employment assessment

  1. Conduct thorough research when purchasing tests from vendors
  2. Choose the right tests and ensure they are valid and reliable
  3. Avoid tests that have questions of an overly personal nature or that may be considered offensive
  4. Do not rely solely on test results to choose candidates

Dr. Puranjaya Singh is an eminent psychologist and has been instrumental in creating assessment backbones for enterprises across multiple industries in India. Under his tutelage as “Advisor and Chief Psychologist”, Mettl is shifting the paradigm in new age talent measurement frameworks. This is the first article in the  ASSESSMENT 101 series that has 3 parts.

Originally published April 1 2018, Updated June 16 2020


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