What Is the Purpose and Effectiveness of Pre-Employment Tests?

By Marianne Chrisos - Last Updated on September 23, 2019
What Is the Purpose and Effectiveness of Pre-Employment Tests

Finding the best employees for your organization is one of the most important responsibilities held by recruiters and members of HR. There are several ways to ensure that your business is hiring quality candidates who possess the needed skills for the positions.

Some businesses employ pre-employment testing to find the best match for certain jobs. Here’s what to know about pre-employment testing and how it might benefit your business.

What are pre-employment tests?

A writer at Forbes says, “Pre-employment tests are used to screen job applicants and can include testing of cognitive abilities, knowledge, work skills, physical and motor abilities, personality, emotional intelligence, language proficiency, and even integrity. Drug testing can also be utilized as a part of the pre-employment process. Companies use testing to find the candidates most likely to succeed in the open positions and to screen out those who are unqualified.”

Some jobs, such as editing positions, accountant roles, or customer service hires, often involve testing to ensure skills match.

When and why are they used?

A resume only tells part of the story, and interviews can’t always prove a candidate’s talent or abilities. A pre-employment test gives a business a real-time view of certain capabilities. Using pre-employment testing can expose candidate weaknesses and prove strengths, which can lead to better hiring decisions and reduced overall turnover.

Some companies choose to have pre-employment screenings as part of the application process, while others will send out requests for a test to be taken as part of the interview, either before coming in for a meeting or while a candidate is in the office.

Are there downsides to pre-employment testing?

There are many benefits to be gained by businesses using testing during the hiring and candidate selection process, but there are a few issues to be aware of before implementing wide-scale candidate assessments.


Does the test actually measure what it’s supposed to measure? The biggest concern for pre-employment tests is that they’re actually an accurate measure of the skill they’re supposed to assess. Does the test really show that a potential employee has the right skillset? As an example, Forbes notes, “if an employer can demonstrate that a typing test and skills tests using Microsoft Office software products constitute a fair sample of the content of an administrative assistant job, then the tests will probably be considered content valid.” Sometimes having current employees who are known to be good in their roles take the tests can be a bar for validity, while other businesses use more qualitative data from 3rd-party test administrators and reviews from other businesses using the same tests.


A good pre-employment test will be shown to be consistent over time so that it’s a reliable measure of whatever it’s testing for. If someone takes the test one day and scores well and takes the test later and scores poorly, it might not be an accurate measure of necessary skills.


Occasionally, employment tests are challenged in court, with candidates citing discrimination in some aspect of the test. Ensuring that all testing is in compliance with the Equal Employment Opportunity act and that it adheres to all federal, state, and local employment laws is an essential part of pre-employment testing.

What to know about effectively using pre-employment tests

What should you focus on when implementing or researching pre-employment assessments? Here are some things to know before administering any pre-employment tests to candidates.

  • Make sure you’re choosing the right tests to ensure that they’re qualifying for the skills you most need. Certify the validity and reliability.
  • Ensure all pre-employment tests meet all EEO laws.
  • If you’re using a test through a 3rd-party vendor, research their methods and get referrals and references from other companies who use their services.
  • Don’t put all of your focus on the results of pre-employment tests to choose and hire candidates; they can be a useful tool but shouldn’t be your only method of assessment.

SHRM, a leader of HR news in the US, notes, “An organization that makes good hiring decisions tends to have higher productivity and lower turnover, which positively affects the bottom line. Hiring the wrong people can have a negative impact on employee morale and management time and can waste valuable training and development dollars. Pre-employment testing and new screening tools and technology can help HR professionals minimize hiring time and select the most qualified individual who best fits the organization.”

When used correctly and ethically, employers who use pre-employment testing often see benefits such as reduced recruiting costs, faster position fill times, increased productivity, higher morale, and more. While hiring assessments aren’t the only way to ensure talent or a good fit for a position, it can be a useful tool in gaining a more holistic understanding of what a candidate can bring to the table.

Marianne Chrisos | Born in Salem, Massachusetts, growing up outside of Chicago, Illinois, and currently living near Dallas, Texas, Marianne is a content writer at a company near Dallas and contributing writer around the internet. She earned her master's degree in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University in Chicago and has worked in publishing, advertising, digital marketing, and content strategy.

Marianne Chrisos | Born in Salem, Massachusetts, growing up outside of Chicago, Illinois, and currently living near Dallas, Texas, Marianne is a content writer at a c...

Related Posts.