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Pre-Hiring Assessment: What is the need and what are the tools for success?

#image 24 May 2023 | #image 5 min read


Finding suitable candidates for vacant positions is possibly one of the most underrated and tedious tasks in an organization. And, with the global talent and skill shortages looming over almost all industries, the job of recruitment, talent acquisition, and human resource teams has become even more challenging. Getting the right employee requires an “N” number of calls, tests, and of course, a pre-hiring assessment.

Pre-hiring assessment typically refers to a process that helps an organization screen candidate and evaluate them on the basis of attributes like cognitive and critical thinking abilities, personality, and motivation. Over time, it has become a norm in the recruitment process. For instance, over 82% of employers, today use some form of a pre-employment test. According to a Talent Board report, about 52% of employers use assessment to test job-specific skills, 37% to test cognitive skills, and 34% to administer personality traits. Moreover, 62% of employers believe that pre-hiring assessment helps hiring managers make better decisions.

Why is pre-hiring assessment important?

Pre-hiring assessments help recruiters by weeding out unqualified candidates and saving time and resources. They can enhance the predictive accuracy of the hiring process and provide a more quantifiable way of evaluating candidates.

Here are some reasons that mark the importance of pre-hiring assessments today.

  1. Candidates falsify their resumes and exaggerate information
    Believe it or not, it is a sad reality that candidates often cross ethical barriers in efforts to secure a job. The best example is that of resumes. Resumes do not provide the most credible reflection of the candidate’s work experience and knowledge. Many applicants often falsify their resumes by exaggerating their skills and accomplishments. As per a survey by Career Builder, almost 75% of employers have caught lies in the applicant’s resume.
  2. The cost of a bad hire is big
    Bad hiring not only harms productivity levels and work efficiency but also leads to uncalled expenses. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the cost of a bad hire can be up to 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings.
  3. References may not be credible
    Referrals are the driving force in the hiring process. However, many cases have been observed where employees refer their friends and do little to verify (candidates’) actual qualifications and personality traits. Pre-hiring assessments and customized interview approaches should be in place to evaluate every candidate.
  4. Soft skill is a significant requirement
    Gone are the times when hard skills were the only parameters. Today, organizations need candidates with the right blend of hard and soft skills. Soft skills refer to personal attributes like interpersonal skills and communication skills. These skills help one fit in with the team and adapt to the company culture.
  5. Digital skill requirement is high
    The number of jobs requiring digital proficiency is increasing daily. As per research, in 2002, 56% of jobs required low-level digital skills, 40% required medium digital skills, and only 5% required high-level digital skills. By 2016, things changed rapidly with jobs requiring high and medium levels of digital skills reaching 26% and 48% respectively.

How pre-hiring assessment benefits your hiring process?

It is time and cost-efficient – The hiring process is time-consuming and expensive. What makes the matter complex is that almost 50% of the job applicants do not meet the basic qualifications. Pre-hiring assessments help cut unqualified candidates from the list and allow the hiring team to focus on candidates with the right abilities and mindsets required for the job. It saves time and resources, which contributes to cost savings.

Better quality of hire – As mentioned above, the cost of a bad hire can be huge. Pre-hiring assessment serves as a preventive measure. It can help you notice red flags beforehand and recognize the bad hires without interviewing every candidate.

Increased retention and reduced turnover – Pre-hiring assessment evaluate aptitude, skills, and personality types. It helps in answering questions like – Is the candidate a right fit? Can the candidate adjust to the company culture? Will the candidate enjoy the quality of work and working within the company? Clarity over these questions can help a hiring manager pre-determine if the candidate is going to stick around or not.

Pre-Hiring Assessment Tools

It is interesting to note that almost 80% of Fortune 500 companies use pre-employment testing to optimize their recruitment strategies and improve talent search and decision-making capabilities. For instance, according to a Marketplace report, 89 of the Fortune 100 companies use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) – an introspective self-report questionnaire – as part of the hiring process, team-building workshops, and executive talent management.

As per a Market Watch report, the pre-employment assessment tools market will expand notably in the foreseeable future due to attributing factors like a rise in individual spending, increased urbanization worldwide, and greater adoption of innovative technologies. There are an endless number of pre-hiring assessment tools in the market like HackerRank, TestGorilla, The Hire Talent, ESkill, Harver, and many others. For instance, many leading companies like Capgemini and Hexaware (allegedly) use iMocha’s tools for their hiring requirements. However, it is a thing to remember that one size does not fit all!

How to choose the right tool?

Finding the right employee that resonates with your company’s culture, vision, & mission and has all the required skills is like finding a needle in the haystack. Thus, to get the best ROI, it is crucial to consider some important things before investing in a tool.

Assess what information you are looking for – First and foremost, be very clear about the information and qualities you are looking for in a candidate. For example, if you want to evaluate a candidate’s leadership attributes, you can select a tool that tests the emotional intelligence and integrity of the candidate.

Choose tools as per the work’s nature – Avail tools that specifically test skills suited for the work. In technology or IT companies, candidates typically take job knowledge tests and are screened for cognitive ability and overall personality traits. Similarly, in a Public Relations firm, the aim could be to test soft skills.

A test that is subjective, reliable, and candid – In the giant pool of tests available in the market, consider deciding on the one which is subjective, reliable, and candid. A subjective test provides a clear idea of one’s distinct personality and makes comparing the candidates easy. Moreover, make sure that the tool is a proven predictor of attributes.

Be wary of drawbacks!

Though pre-hiring assessment tools are thriving in the market, they are still leveraged with drawbacks. Some of them include-

  1. Tools are not 100% accurate and valid. While they can provide an idea of one’s personality, they may not be the best indicator of future job performance as the latter can be influenced by external factors that the organization cannot govern.
  2. Tools may not be consistent. A consistent tool provides the same results and scores, no matter how many times the candidate takes the test. Thus, check each tool for reliability before being integrated into a hiring process.
  3. The long application process may dissuade good candidates. Many times, even good candidates lose interest in the test and may leave it midway. This eventually reflects adversely on their score, and one may miss a great employee. Thus, be wary of the length of the test. The tests should be short and engaging.

Tools are beneficial to evaluate the candidate and check if they have the necessary skills required for the vacant position. However, they still have a long way to replicate the insights one may get during one-on-one interviews and personal communication. While tools are highly helpful, trust your gut more than the tools before making a hiring decision.


About the Author

Anil Lanba
Executive Vice President
Pyramid IT Consulting Pvt. Ltd.


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