It’s been well documented that hiring managers have just over a 50-50 chance of predicting success on the job based on candidate information learned during the interview.

Reference checks from previous employers aren’t much help either. You have a better chance of winning the lottery than getting a former manager or human resources to disclose anything more than confirming the employee’s dates of employment and job title.  And these days it’s not unusual for the manager to be working elsewhere or the company to be out of business.

That leaves two additional sources of information that you can use to assess the fit of a candidate – the resume and pre-employment testing.

Up until recently the resume was a mainstay in employee selection.  Despite the known flaws that anywhere from one-third to two-thirds of resumes are loaded with lies, companies still relied on them to vet candidates. But based on several recent surveys, even the value of the resume has to be called into question.

For example, recent research from IT staffing agency Robert Half Technology indicates that IT hiring managers, on average, spend just two minutes reviewing an applicant’s resume.

Another recent survey determined that recruiters spend up to 4 1/2 minutes per resume. 

And then The Ladders, an online job-matching service, released the results of an eye-tracking study involving recruiters.  The recruiters themselves estimated they spent 4 to 5 minutes studying a resume, just as the other survey found. But the results of The Ladders study revealed recruiters spend an average of six seconds scanning a resume.

Really?  Six seconds?  So let me get this straight – the cursory assessment of a resume, the ineffectiveness of a reference check, and the unreliable interview are the tools most companies use to make hiring decisions.

Whether six seconds or five minutes, you’ve got to ask – is this any way to treat job applicants? And if the treatment of job applicants isn’t relevant to employee selection what about the reliability and accuracy of this screening strategy?

In addition, what other business function does management allow to continue that employs such poor performing tools and metrics?  It’s not tolerated in finance, operations, accounting, or sales. Why are these human resource practices still the primary tools and resources used to select what is generally the largest line item on the P&L and the heart and soul of a business?

That leads me to the role that pre-employment testing can play in improving employee selection success. Compared to the six second resume scan that can hardly be deemed a reliable and valid assessment and the highly variable interview, pre-employment assessment tests add objectivity, predictability, and defensibility to hiring decisions.