Even after reviewing résumés and conducting interviews, hiring a new employee can sometimes feel like making a high-stakes wager. Bet well, and you have an employee who excels at their job and improves the organization as a whole. Bet poorly, however, and you’re left with someone who requires an excessive amount of supervision and training just to keep up. As a result, this hire can drag down the productivity of others.
How can companies tilt the odds in favor of the former and make the hiring process feel less like a game of chance? Numerous data-backed strategies can help improve the hiring process, but perhaps the most powerful — at least in many cases — is the pre-employment test. These tests often take two main forms: the written test and the ability test.
The Written Test
Perhaps the most versatile of all testing and validation services, the written test can measure virtually any aptitude an employer desires. There are several major reasons a written test can be such a powerful hiring tool:
- It can be customized. An effective written test begins with a comprehensive job analysis that pinpoints exactly what a particular position requires and which skills are most valuable and frequently used. The test is then built around these findings to ensure that the exact needs of the position are really tested.
- It allows for more questions than other pre-employment assessments. A written test can truly dive deep into a person’s skill set by asking a wide variety of succinct questions. The end result is a comprehensive and reliable image of each candidate’s skills and deficiencies.
- It generates objective data. Written tests create a trove of quantitative data that can be analyzed to determine reliability and validity. This allows employers to continuously improve their pre-employment assessments, removing bias and focusing on the most valuable and relevant aspects of candidates.
- It can be administered en masse. Written tests can be administered online to a large pool of candidates and scored electronically. The result is a more efficient process that can reach a wide variety of people, regardless of geography.
- It’s legally defensible. The data mined to create a written test and the statistical analysis used to help minimize bias can all be documented, ensuring that the objectivity of a written test holds up against any court challenges that might come its way.
The written test is a uniquely effective tool for predicting whether a candidate is the right fit for a job, but it’s not the only tool. An ability test can act as a powerful complement to the written test, allowing employers to see candidates in action and shore up confidence in their ultimate hiring decision.
The Ability Test
Although written tests have a surprising amount of predictive power when determining a person’s hands-on abilities, there’s no substitute for seeing someone in action. This is where work sample tests and physical ability tests are useful.
A work sample test has candidates perform tasks that are crucial to success at the job for which they’re applying. It uses job analysis to determine which tasks are most crucial and replicates them for candidates.
In many cases, these tasks can be recreated almost exactly. In other cases, it might be more difficult to replicate the exact work required. Regardless of the fidelity of the recreation, however, work sample tests focus on the crucial skills required and see how candidates perform.
In addition to testing specific skills, some jobs (e.g., firefighters, warehouse workers) might also require a test of a candidate’s physical abilities. In these cases, it’s crucial to create a test that focuses solely on the physical abilities necessary for the job — meaning there isn’t any way to work around these requirements for those with disabilities. These tests should not inadvertently discriminate against specific demographics; they should act as an objective test of abilities relevant to a job.
Both working together and separately, written and ability tests can be powerful predictors of whether a candidate is right for a particular position. However, these tests are only as good as the data they’re based on. If you’re interested in strengthening your hiring process, work with a partner that can help you implement data-backed testing and validation services that truly work.
Biddle Consulting Group has decades of experience developing pre-employment assessments for companies in nearly every industry. If you need help creating pre-employment tests from scratch — or if you just need an expert to help make sure your existing strategies are as effective as possible — we can help. Contact us today to learn more.