10 Reasons Hiring Managers Fear Pre-Employment Tests

UPDATED August 6, 2019

Despite strong evidence and research to the contrary, many HR professionals and hiring managers still resist using pre-employment tests during the hiring process. Based on over nearly 25 years of conversations, I came up with 10 popular reasons why they fear employee assessments.

FEAR is nothing more than False Experiences Appearing Real.  In this week’s article I respond to each of these fears – some real, some exaggerated, and some just “fake news.”  Let me begin with number 10.

10.   We don’t have a budget for testing.

Fortunately the ROI on pre-employment tests is many-fold when you consider the cost of a bad hire, estimated to be 1 to 2 times annual salary for lower-wage employees and upwards of 10 times annual salary for managers, professionals and executive.   Ranging in costs from as little as $25 for screening tools to several hundred for job fit assessments, the cost of the pre-employment tests will be a fraction of the cost spent on trying to save a bad hire.   Pre-employment tests are an investment in productivity and innovation, not an HR line item.

9.  I read my report and don’t agree with what it says about me.

Face validity is very important. That means when you read the report it describes your to a “t.”  But face validity isn’t a very good predictor of job fit.  If it was every candidate who says he’d be a great fit would become your next super-performer.  Tools like DISC and Myers-Briggs have very strong face validity. That’s not enough for screening and selection. Validated psychometric tools used for hiring are normed against the population (and against your company population when possible.) But no test is perfect. It’s important to note that selection tests measure innate personality traits, or your core personality.  Experience and training can complement a candidate’s “core” talent. For example, an introvert can become an accomplished public speaker, the messy individual can learn to be organized. That’s why the optimal hiring solution is to use the pre-employment test to enhance the interview and discover the natural fit, learned fit, and potential for growth. 

8.  We’re just a small business.

This one just makes you go “huh!”  Being small doesn’t give you a pass at selecting top performers. A bad hire is a bad hire is a bad hire no matter the size of the business or the industry. It’s just bizarre why so many small business owners and managers feel they don’t want access to the same hiring tools that large companies use.  Online technology has leveled the playing field and democratized access. Now small business owners as well as hiring managers can compete with recruiters and HR at Fortune 100 companies.  And the best news is that technology has lowered the cost to a level affordable to any size business in any industry.

7.  We don’t have the time to get certified.

Online hiring assessments make this an easy one to overcome.  Certifications and training are not required.  Our reports are written so that even the most inexperienced manager can understand the results.  And to make the report even more manager-friendly, all our pre-employment tests come with personalized behavior interview question guides based on responses given by the candidates. We can’t make it any easier. (Of course, for any managers wanting to become more skilled at reading the reports, we are always happy to oblige – and many managers take us up on the offer! It’s not required.)

6. It takes too long to get the results.

This is the easiest fear to overcome.  Results are delivered in real-time.  You’ll receive your own online client account – many times at no charge – so reports can be accessed in real time.  In other words, as soon as a candidate hits the submit button, a manager can log into the system  and retrieve the report … or have the report emailed to you.  In today’s job market, when you have the good candidate waiting for you to extend a job offer, you can ill afford any delays.

5. We don’t want to upset the candidates.

Our clients gave us the answer to this fear.  “If a candidate balks at completing our hiring process and this is the time when he is supposed to be on his best behavior, what will happen the first time we ask him to do something he doesn’t think is part of his job?”  It’s important to look at the assessment as equal to the interview and background checks.  That’s how the EEOC looks at pre-employment testing.  Resumes, application, interviews and even general observations are all on equal footing. If a candidate refused to submit his resume or give permission to check references, you certainly wouldn’t forego these steps.  The pre-employment test is just another part in your employee selection process. What’s more, what happens when a candidate refuses to complete an assessment? Will you be charged anyway? NO! It won’t cost you a dime for the assessment until he or she completes it. 

4. We heard candidates can fake the tests.

Again, this fear is real – and true.  Just like during the interview, candidates exaggerate. Some even lie. Candidates are often more skilled at playing the role of the candidate, then delivering results as an employee.  The advantage of our pre-employment tests is that each assessment has a “fake-ability” scale.  Questions embedded in the assessments help managers assess how reliable the information is and if the candidate attempted to manipulate responses.  Unless you are a highly skilled interviewer, gut instinct is the only tool you have to determine if a candidate is the real thing … and unfortunately gut instinct is as accurate as flipping a coin.

3. We spoke with our attorney and he said stay away from testing.

Another variation of this fear is: I heard that companies have gotten sued because a test was used.  It is true that organizations that have used tests have been sued.  But it’s also true that more businesses have been sued because they didn’t.  Every hiring decision carries a risk.  But you need to know the facts.  For example of 77,000 EEO complaints filed recently, only 304 involved assessments.  And of those 304, the decisions that ruled in favor of the employee were related to the improper use of the assessment, not the validity of the assessment  itself.  As long as the test is valid, reliable, non-discriminatory AND job-related, the use of pre-employment tests is a best practice that meets EEOC guidelines. If your attorney can’t substantiate why he/she believes pre-employment tests should be avoided with anything more than it’s his/her opinion, get a second opinion. We will be happy to recommend employment law attorneys who support the use of employee testing as a best practice.

2. We can’t afford to turn away good candidates.

It’s true that many assessments take too long to complete. Many platforms aren’t mobile friendly which is a complete turn-off for Millennials and Generation Z. Do your due diligence. Use assessments that engage or at minimum don’t deter the modern worker. Beside the time is long-gone when you can afford to hire employees who can barely fog a mirror.  You wouldn’t accept an order from a vendor with the wrong parts, would you? Why would you hire an employee that doesn’t have the right skills or fit in your culture?  Ironically, another big benefit to use assessments is that you will actually expand your talent pool.  Yes, you read that correctly.  You can expand, not shrink, your talent pool with assessments. How is that possible? For the very same reason that managers make hiring mistakes based on the interview alone, they also miss high-potential candidates because they might interview poorly but have all the skills and attitude you need, if not more.  Pre-employment tests can help find the diamonds in the rough.  You can ill-afford to turn away a gifted employee when he presents.

And drum roll please. The number one reason why managers fear using pre-employment tests is:

1. We don’t have the time to test candidates. 

It’s true. It does take time to test candidates (but not as much as you think). The irrefutable data however confirms the time it takes to test a candidate is a drop in the bucket compared to the time you will spend training, counseling and eventually terminating the wrong hire.   With online hiring assessments, most of the time invested in the process is candidate time.   All a manager needs to do is send out the instructions to the candidate and process the report.  That’s it. And for businesses too short-staffed to manage even the administration of these functions, we can do all the “grunt” work.  All we need is a name and email – and voila!  The next time you hear from us you’ll have the candidate’s completed report sitting in your inbox.   The time saved using online hiring assessments will be much better used recruiting for hard-to-fill positions and retaining the employees you have.

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