Employee testing is becoming commonplace in the workplace. More and more employers are using or considering the use of employee screening and selection assessments to help them ensure they hire or promote the right fit.

But this increased popularity raises the level of confusion as human resource professionals and hiring managers resolve to find the best assessments for their company. Turning to Google is little help since a simple search for the keywords “pre-employment test” turns up nearly 17,000,000 results in less than 0.25 seconds.

The first step in due diligence should be to decide if a pre-employment screening assessment or a job fit assessment is the best choice. You might ask “what’s the difference” because the terms screening, selection, pre-employment test, and employee assessment are often used interchangeably.

An analogy I found helpful is this:

The typical employee is hired using the assessment battery of a resume, several interviews and background checks.  But studies have demonstrated time and again that this combo is just slightly more effective than flipping a coin. That’s like trying to read the bottom lines of an eye chart from 20 feet away.  A few people might be able to pick out a few of the letters; most people will likely see no more than a blurry line.

That opens the door for pre-employment tests to help screen out and select in the right job applicants.

When reading, one might try to move closer to the chart.  Unfortunately that doesn’t work quite so well when interviewing, even when you are sitting toe-to-toe. Another option might be to use a magnifying glass. Of course, a magnifying glass (that is, the pre-employment screening assessment) can enhance the interview plus uncover a few hidden blemishes the candidate might be hiding. The interviewer can then focus the interview on the potential weak areas or challenges, likely missed during the traditional interview and resume review.

Pre-employment screening tests are best used when the purpose is to easily disqualify, or “knock-out”, the unqualified and poor fit candidates as early in the hiring process as possible. That’s because a pre-employment screening assessment can identify high-risk behaviors. They are best at weeding out poor fits quickly.  Screening tests may confirm a candidate’s assets but expose those blemishes too that get missed too often.  It’s quite easy for a candidate to hide those blemishes and modify his or her appearance and behavior with a little interview “make-up.”

Pre-employment screening tests however don’t generally probe deeply enough to answer questions about skills such as decision making, customer service, problem solving, or leadership, or motivating employees.

Pre-employment selection tests, often called job fit personality assessments, are the equivalent of examining the eye chart under a microscope. The hiring manager will get to see more than just clear, sharp letters; he can examine the “pixels” that make up the letters. A job fit assessment can expose not only the surface blemishes but also their “DNA” – job potential, mental abilities, motivators, values, and behavioral style. In other words, pre-employment tests reveal what makes the candidate tick. A job fit assessment measures a candidate’s potential for competence, cognitive skills, behavioral styles, business values, team fit with co-workers and even cultural fit with the organization.

Want to learn more about which pre-employment assessment is better? Click here to download our free ebook “How to Hire Top Performers?”