HR Mavericks

Eddy’s HR Mavericks Encyclopedia

Pre-Employement Assessment
Have you ever applied for a position and immediately receive a request to take some assessment? Do you wish your company implemented assessments? Are these assessments helpful? Read on to find out more!

What is a Pre-Employment Assessment?

Pre-employment assessments are a recruitment tool utilized by organizations to find the right candidate(s). They can also be used as a coaching and retention tool. The assessments vary in what is being measured, such as cognition, skills, behavior, and personality.

Why are Pre-Employment Assessments Helpful?

There are a variety of benefits to having applicants take a pre-employment assessment. Here are a few reasons why companies might consider making a pre-employment assessment part of their hiring process.
  • Increased retention and engagement. When utilized properly, pre-employment assessments possess a return on investment and can be measured by retention and engagement. Companies that use pre-employment assessments report a 39% reduction in turnover rates.
  • Protection against liability. Pre-employment assessments are governed by federal guidelines which can provide equitable practices. These include reducing bias by focusing strictly on objective skills and abilities.
  • Streamlined recruitment. By requiring applicants to take the tests early, companies can weed out a lot of resume spammers who send out resumes with minimal thought or effort. Applicants who complete the tests are, at the very least, serious enough about the position to put in the time to take the assessment.

Types of Pre-Employment Assessments

No matter what your organization prioritizes, there are assessments available to help make informed decisions in hiring. The organization should determine what shape they want the culture to take purpose-driven, market-driven, etc. The choice of assessment should drive that home in recruitment.

Cognitive Ability Tests

Cognitive ability tests help potential employers understand a candidate’s capacity for dealing with challenging mental processes.

Personality Assessments

Personality assessments gauge a candidate’s work ethic, disposition, and overall nature and the correlation to the organization’s defined culture. Personality assessments are often paired with a cognitive ability test or skills and aptitude test.

Skills and Aptitude Tests

These assessments determine the level of proficiency a candidate possesses for a specific skill or a set of skills.

Job Simulations

Job simulations place the candidate in a VR-type situation in which they can perform the functions of the position.

Integrity and Behavioral Assessments

An integrity test is a specific type of personality test designed to assess an applicant's tendency to be honest, trustworthy and dependable.

Emotional Intelligence Assessments

Emotional intelligence assessment test-takers perform tasks designed to assess their ability to perceive, identify, understand and manage emotions.

How to Select and Implement Pre-Employment Assessments

In this section, we will discuss steps to determine which assessment to utilize and implement.

Step 1: Adopt a Culture

Leaders typically know what they want the culture to be, but if they are not communicating that or understand the “how,” employees (and customers) won’t grasp it either. Read HR Mavericks’ article on workplace culture for more information. The culture that is adopted will determine how hiring decisions are made.

Step 2: Determine What Assessment(s) to Use

Based on the culture that is adopted, the assessment(s) chosen should complement the culture. Most importantly, the assessment(s) should align with the following:
  • Job requirements. Positions in an organization such as sales and marketing benefit more from personality assessments than skills based assessments, whereas positions in finance and accounting benefit more from a skills and aptitude assessment.
  • Industry standards. Some organizations want to consider how competitors are conducting hiring practices. In addition, there will be resources and guidelines available to help determine best practices.
  • Company culture. Will the assessment complement the hiring process? Studies show that 60% of candidates abandon the process if it is too stressful. Candidate experience is an indication of how the company feels about the people.
  • Assessment goals. Be sure to participate in a demo of the assessments you like to compare and contrast. This will give you an idea of the process for candidates and you will be well-versed when presenting the business case to the executive team.

Step 3: Implement

Congratulations! You’ve chosen an assessment to help with the hiring processes. Now it’s time to implement! mplemention is best when started with a pilot program. This allows you to guarantee integration with the HRIS/ATS if that is how candidates will access them. Depending on the size of the organization, having all established employees complete the assessment(s) may provide insight as to where individuals are struggling

When to Administer Assessments

Your talent acquisition/HR teams need to determine when assessments should be presented to candidates. Some prefer to have the assessment(s) provided upon initial submission of interest in the position. Others prefer to review resumes first and then provide the assessments. A common error when deciding what is to be measured is when the pilot program only includes top performers. This is not a true indicator of job performance. If using the star performers’ scores as the minimum, the candidate pool becomes too restrictive. Remember, you can hire for personality and teach the skills!

Best Practices for Using Pre-Employment Assessments in the Hiring Process

Understanding the impact of assessment(s) not only during the recruitment process but to the overall team and culture is imperative. Ask yourself these helpful questions to determine best practices:

Is it Valid and Reliable?

This should be the first and foremost question when implementing assessments. Ensuring their validity will keep the probability of lawsuits low.

Is it Too Much?

As previously mentioned, candidate experience is an indicator of the company culture. Too many assessments can deter candidates from moving forward in the process.

What are your Goals with the Assessments(s)

Whether your TA/HR teams are trying to streamline the recruitment process or recruit top talent, having clear and concise goals for what the assessments will achieve will determine successful implementation.

Who to Include in the Process


Including the leaders of DEIB in the process will help determine if any biases were not previously realized during the research and pilot phases. A 2021 study by WayUp indicated that despite highly qualified candidates applying in record numbers for positions, Black, Hispanic and Native American candidates “fail” cognitive or technical evaluations 200% more often than White or Asian candidates. Research has shown that performance in technical assessments, like performance in school/GPA, is more closely tied to socioeconomic status than future job performance.

Current Employees

If you decide to include current employees in the newly implemented assessment process, be clear on what will happen with those results. For example, if there is an employee who scores low on the assessment but is actually excelling in the position, it could indicate other factors such as test anxiety, a learning disability, etc. Be cautious in these cases if the employee has not made that information known to HR in requesting an accommodation. Some assessments come with additional information such as how that person may prefer communication, what management styles they thrive under, etc. If current employees take the assessment(s), be ready to coach department leaders about those results and how much information the HR/TA teams wish to make available.

Referrals and Job Transfers

There should always be a “what if” solution for assessment results, such as if a refered candidate doesn’t do well on the assessment(s) but nails the interview. If current employees take the assessment(s) related to their role and do not do well but are a perfect culture fit, the HR department should consider working with leadership on potential job transfers (where available).
Sarah Marchese

Sarah Marchese

Sarah is the HR Manager for a small non-profit in Phoenix, AZ. Her specialty is working with small organizations in developing the HR department. She holds a Master's degree in I/O Psychology and considers herself to be a true HR nerd. When she isn't helping the organization succeed, Sarah enjoys reading, running and spending time with her friends & family. Sarah dreams of one day being an Employment & Labor attorney.
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