When to test job applicants

Hire Success
Hire Success

At Hire Success®, we’re often asked when companies should use employment testing to get the best results.

Based on our experience with thousands of companies over the years, we’ve found that the best answer is: Sooner than you think.

Why waiting leads to complications later on

In our experience, many hiring managers wait to test until they’re down to a final shortlist of applicants.  But waiting that long can cause problems. 

Here’s why

When hiring, companies often make the mistake of focusing the initial review efforts solely on a resume– in other words, on background, education, and experience.

The problem with this method is that some of your applicants can look great on paper, but may not have the personality traits and skills you’ve identified as being necessary for the job (or for your company culture). Remember, the information on a resume is controlled by the applicant and designed to make him or her look as impressive as possible.

If you base your hiring decisions on a person’s resume and an interview alone (with questions that your candidate was more than likely prepared to answer in the first place), you can end up selecting the wrong people from the beginning. 

In fact, you may hire someone who interviews well, but doesn’t have the skills or traits you need at all. And in today's hiring environment, where top people are quickly snatched up, having the ability to quickly and accurately identify the best candidates can be critical. 

Testing early helps provide a standardized and more fair approach from the beginning, giving you solid data and an objective view of every candidate so you’re less likely to show a conscious or unconscious bias towards any candidate for the wrong reasons, such as, “Oh, this guy went to my school!” or “Wow, her resume looks really professional,” or “Ugh, this man’s hobby is stamp collecting? Boring!”

This is why we strongly suggest that you assess everyone who passes your basic selection criteria. And with the “Branded Job Site” feature from Hire Success, you can ask those basic questions in the beginning, prior to testing, so that you can quickly review and “weed out” anyone who doesn’t have a minimum amount of experience, licenses, qualifications, skills, etc.  

“But what about the costs of testing?”

We often hear this question from hiring managers who are concerned about spending money up front on testing. 

However, the real question should be, how much will you spend if you hire the wrong person and then have to go through the entire hiring process again?

True, there are costs associated with testing. You might spend $350 in a month to run tests on all your applicants (and your employees, in the beginning, so you can establish baselines and determine what skills and traits you need).

But compare that cost with the staff time that’s lost in hiring and training your new employee, as well as salary and benefit expenses – and if that new employee leaves in a month or two, all that money and time is gone.

Evaluate the turnover cost for each position and compare that with testing. When you lose a new hire and have to start over, the costs skyrocket. Suddenly, you’re looking at thousands of dollars lost (on the low end).

Added benefits of testing early

Testing early will also help you avoid potential discrimination (because by testing everyone, you avoid singling out any candidates because of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age or disability) and give all first-round applicants a chance to advance.

If it’s worth bringing them in, it’s worth testing them – and with tools like Hire Success®, you can quickly narrow your pool and conduct better, more in-depth interviews up front. If a candidate matches your baselines AND has the background and skills you’re looking for, chances are you’ve found a winner. 

A few reminders and notes on avoiding discrimination

Remember, if you’re going to use pre-employment testing at all, you need to make sure that:

  • The tests have been developed by a professional
  • The tests are applicable and relevant to the job in question
  • The tests given are standardized – and are administered at the same point in the hiring process – for every qualified candidate

Make sure that everyone on your hiring team understands when to test, as well as the limitations of any tests. Pre-employment testing can be a great help for your business as long as hiring managers understand and follow clear procedures each time.

Also, ensure that your team keeps up on any changes in job requirements. As your business grows, go back to your baselines regularly and make sure that the traits and skills you’ve identified as being necessary for success in a particular role still match the job.

By carefully selecting, following and administering a valid system, you’ll ensure that your pre-employment testing does not violate federal anti-discrimination laws by disproportionately excluding people in a particular group.

For general information on discrimination, Title VII, the ADA and the ADEA, visit the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity’s website here.

Want to talk to an expert about testing and current hiring practices at your organization? Contact us to set up a free, no-obligation 30-minute consultation.
Hire Success
Hire Success

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