Wouldn’t it be nice to give a single test to job candidates that could instantly gauge theirreliability, honesty, aptitude, and social skills?  What would it look like?  What questions would it ask? These are just a few of the questions I am commonly asked. What follows are answers to a few of the most common questions I’m asked about personality and other pre-employment tests.   

Aren’t personality tests considered risky in today’s litigious environment? 

 Only to the degree that everything is risky in today’s environment. A psychometric test certainly comes with some risks. But so does the interview, checking backgrounds, drug testing not to mention the financial risk of terminating the wrong hire or exposure to negligent hiring if you don’t do everything possible to hire the right person the first time. In fact, according to the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures, any inventory or procedure utilized during an employment decision is considered a test. Much to the surprise (and dismay) of many managers, the interview must meet the same validity and reliability standards as personality tests, ability tests, and even background and resume evaluations. Taking that into consideration, a validated and reliable assessment offers an unbiased third-party validated evaluation of candidates and when used properly may protect the employer from claims of personal bias.

If pre-employment personality tests are used, can they be used instead of interviewing candidates? 

Definitely not. The U.S. Department of Labor embraces the “whole person approach” for all employment decisions. The “whole person approach” encourages the manager to factor in the results of a variety of accepted tests along with prior actual performance and interview results, to get the most complete picture of an employee or candidate.

Why not just train all the managers in the technique of behavioral interviewing? 

Every hiring manager should be trained.  But a well-designed pre-employment test when used correctly enhances the interview. Research has shown time and time again that the traditional interview, even the behavioral interview, alone is not always predictive of success. Compared to flipping a coin or rolling the dice, the interview gives you just slightly better odds. The structured behavioral interview improves reliability up to about 75 percent. But its success depends on the abilities of the manager to ask the right questions, and observe, listen and evaluate the answers without personal bias. Few managers are trained to do this and candidly, many don’t have the time or interest to invest in structured interviews for all the candidates.

How do you choose the right pre-employment tests? 

There are literally thousands of tests available. Not all of these tests are recommended for use in the workplace. To be deemed acceptable, it must meet three basic criteria:

  • The test itself must be validated – that is, the test is examining what it says it is.
  • The test must be reliable – meaning the results must be repeatable over time.
  • The test must be job relevant and job skill predictive. Many tests on the market meet the first two criteria.

The problem employers face wihen selecting the best test is that not every validated, reliable employee assessments is job relevant or predictive.