pre-employment assessment

The scarcity created by the IT talent shortage understandably makes companies cautious about who they hire. To lower the number of bad hires, many implement a pre-employment assessment as a way of filtering out bad fits. Unfortunately, we have seen instances where companies are actually losing exceptional candidates because of the additional evaluations. Here are a few ways our IT staffing solutions team has seen improperly conducted pre-employment tests hurt the candidate search.

1.) They might test for the wrong skills

The problem with pre-employment tests isn’t the concept itself; it’s in the execution. Whether it’s a technical test or a personality assessment, careful design is crucial to their effectiveness and screening capabilities. What often causes these tests to be less than effective is that they fail to combine the knowledge of IT and human resources together.

An effective IT staffing process would involve both disciplines in accord with one another. If a pre-employment screening is designed by HR professionals alone, certain interpersonal skills valued enterprise-wide might be prioritized without even considering what traits are right for the role. If the IT team acts alone to design a challenge for applicants to puzzle through, the grading rubric might exalt technical knowledge without properly measuring how a candidate will work on a team or within the context of the larger organization.

There needs to be balance from the start and plenty of pre-employment tests do not get the formula quite right. Moreover, they need to be properly tested in advance to ensure that the right results are even being achieved by employees who should be able to pass it. Exacting quality assurance prevents problems with tests in the long run.

2.) They slow the hiring process

Even if all pre-employment assessments are properly tested and vetted, there is the challenge of responding to them quickly enough to prevent any delay in the hiring process. If your company is using a pre-employment assessment created by a third party, then it is crucial to have an SLA where the results are scored and delivered within a very brief guaranteed window. Anything that is generated internally will need to be graded and reviewed in a timeline that doesn’t lose candidates in the process. Here are a few questions that companies need to ask themselves:

  • Who is reviewing the test and when? The evaluation of a technical test takes time and whoever ends up reviewing it will need a good blend of HR and technical knowledge. In the spirit of Murphy’s law, issues are bound to arise exactly when pre-employment assessments need to be evaluated. Will scoring candidates be the priority or will other duties win out? The answer can easily impact how quickly candidates make it through the hiring process (or if they even stick around to do it).
  • How easy is it to compare candidates? Any assessment that has a clear rubric (most personality tests and some cognitive tests) will be easy to review and compare. Technical tests are vastly different. Some have a clear answer, while others can be solved in a variety of ways. In those cases, evaluating the process is just as important as the results, and this takes time for each candidate you need to review.

Also, the fact that many of these technical assessments can take hours to solve might deter candidates applying for all but name brand companies since the job market currently favors candidates. Regardless of how it’s done, an assessment doesn’t do much to reduce average time to hire.

3.) They make companies risk adverse

What companies do not expect to be an issue is the way a pre-employment assessment can impact their decision making. They decided upon using a test because it was intended to clarify the choice and create predictable measures of candidates. However, there are times when sticking too closely to the test results can lead companies further astray.

Imagine that a company enters the hiring process with a vision of a senior candidate, but when they review the candidate pool, they find that senior talent for that role is unavailable or outside their price range. The position still needs to be filled and a mid-level tech talent with the ability to learn quickly and a good culture fit might just be the answer. But because a technical test says that person is not ready now, it might feel too much like a negative mark implying this person will never be ready.

That type of decision and others like it can make good hires more difficult to make. The costly hiring process can spiral out of control and prevent the company from making a productive transition with a candidate capable of working toward strengthening his or her experience.

Getting Quality without a Pre-Employment Assessment

Though a company can successfully implement a pre-employment assessment, there are many barriers to that success. Since the objective of these types of tests is to lower the hiring risk, there are better hiring strategies out there. In fact, many of the tactics that an IT staffing company would use in attracting passive candidates do a better job at getting to know candidates and preventing them from falling off during the hiring process. Want to learn more?

Download Our Passive Candidate eBook