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Pre-Employment Assessments: Hiring Is More than Just an Interview

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Organizations need to move fast to recruit and hire top candidates, and pre-employment assessments are an excellent tool for doing so.

Businesses already invest significant time and money in identifying, vetting and onboarding new employees. A 2016 study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reported the average cost per hire is $4,129 and that it takes an average of 42 days to fill an open position.

Assessments — usually aptitude, personality or skills tests — measure current skill levels, estimate skill gaps and gauge overall fit with corporate culture. Organizations can use assessments at any stage of the hiring process. The assessments weed out applicants who don’t align with the organization’s requirements, allowing recruiters to focus on candidates who are a better match.

A pre-employment assessment will ensure your time and money are spent on the right candidates, regardless of the level of the position. Yet there are some differences between assessments used for different seniority levels. Here’s how they generally pan out.

Entry Level

Applicants for junior positions present a resume as evidence of their work experience. But without multiple positions or signs of progression, it’s difficult to determine skill level.

That’s why it’s good to supplement a resume review with a competency assessment (usually an aptitude test), which primarily measures critical reasoning and problem-solving abilities.

If possible, request a work sample, which improves the validity or reliability of the candidate’s information by up to 24 percent, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. A work sample is a reliable indicator of how the applicant would perform on the job.

Job-knowledge tests also lead to a complete picture of the candidate’s strengths, weaknesses and appropriateness for a particular role.

Middle Management

Middle management roles often require supervisory experience and strong interpersonal skills. Companies should use personality assessments at this level to learn how the candidate behaves in specific situations. That information helps measure fit with the corporate culture.

Competency assessments that measure leadership capabilities offer an additional tool to determine whether the applicant is a leader or can be taught to lead.

Senior Executive

The more senior the role, the more frequently assessments are used, according to the Harvard Business Review.

At this level, companies need to use a combination of personality tests, simulations, structured interviews and competency assessments (Glassdoor has compiled a list of questions asked across different companies). It’s important to measure a potential executive’s abilities, fit with the company’s culture, leadership skills, character, industry knowledge and work ethic.

The more senior the job, the more specific the skills needed for success — and the easier it is to measure mastery, as opposed to the more general skills needed for less-senior roles.

Take Things Personally

Assessments provide only a snapshot of the candidate’s actual personality and capabilities.

Using a combination of two or three different types of assessments will give you a better sense of strengths and weaknesses. Personal interactions and discussions, alongside multiple assessments, will help you best determine how well the candidate would perform.

Of course, relying too heavily on assessments can slow the hiring process to a crawl.

The longer the process takes, the more likely your top candidate will accept a position elsewhere. Most job offers are made after three interviews, said 48 percent of respondents in the MRINetwork study, and are presented within three to six weeks of the first application.

Pre-employment Assessments: Add to Your Toolbox

Interviews are no longer the sole foundation for hiring decisions.

Hiring the wrong person carries a high cost of time and money.

Companies intent on hiring the perfect person should consider using pre-employment assessments.

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