The masked figure slowly approaches, its blank face betraying nothing of what lies beneath. You’re filled with trepidation yet, somehow, you must discover the true identity of this being. For if you don’t, you could end up making a bad hiring decision.

No, this isn’t a scene from a new horror movie. It’s a scene from a job interview, and the mask in this case is metaphorical.

Job applicants are understandably eager to present the ideal versions of themselves to prospective employers. They want the job! Their resumes are professionally polished, and many don’t write their own cover letters. They also read books and watch videos about prepping for interviews.

We all know by now that a candidate who charms during the interview is not guaranteed to be a good employee. This is where the objective data delivered by a pre-employment assessment report adds critical value to the hiring process.

A good pre-employment assessment (one that has been built on a foundation of scientific validity) will reveal your applicant’s intrinsic motivations. The masked figure may claim, “I’m actually very good at detail work,” or “Just point me to the teenagers you want to frighten, and I’ll chase them with my chainsaw all day long!” But the assessment results present a more accurate picture of the individual’s strengths and limitations. Does this person really have the patience and focus to produce high-quality documentation on an ongoing basis? Or the stamina to continuously menace teens whose van broke down on the worst possible dirt road?

[Disclaimer: There’s no assessment we know of that evaluates one’s motivation to chase teenagers around with a chainsaw. If that disappoints you… what kind of business are you running anyway?]

An extra good pre-employment assessment links an applicant’s intrinsic motivations to job performance using science. For example, imagine you are looking to hire a Project Manager. A top-quality assessment not only shows your candidate’s internal motivations, but it also measures those motivations against a Project Manager competency model based on top-performer data. If the assessment report suggests that the candidate has limitations in key areas, you’ll know where to drill down with targeted interview questions.

Many hiring managers say, “Yeah, assessments are great when you need to evaluate candidates, but what happens when you have a hard time attracting candidates in the first place?”

In keeping with the Halloween theme: Do you remember trick-or-treating when you were a kid? Most houses handed out the “fun size” chocolate bars or fruity candy packs. But picture your neighborhood as a bell curve, and go down a couple standard deviations. Now, we see houses that give out unwrapped lollipops and tarnished pennies. Or look to the other end of the spectrum at the houses that offer bags of king-sized candy bars. Pretty soon, the house with the king-sized candy bars becomes a legend, a sparkling palace on Ivy Lane. While the house with the tarnished pennies turns gray and the trees wither in the accursed soil surrounding it. The kids all decide the house is haunted and thereafter cross to the other side of the street when they pass it on the way to school.

Okay, perhaps we got carried away by the season there. Companies that struggle to find applicants may face a combination of challenges ranging from geography (the talent pool is too dispersed) to over-specialization (not enough people with the necessary skills). One thing any company can do, however, is to take a deep look and see if it’s giving out the good candy.

Good candy might be updated policies like flexible hours and a work-from-home option (that does not indirectly punish employees who choose that route), improvements to the work environment, a flatter structure that leads to more empowerment and engagement, structured career-development programs, or other benefits that appeal to the new generation of talent. Desirable applicants seek a destination employer, just as little witches and spooky skeletons seek to weigh down a pillow case or plastic pumpkin basket with oversized servings of chocolate.

In horror movies, masked maniacs have proved frighteningly resilient to whatever weapons the heroes wield against them. In real life, a good pre-employment assessment and employee-friendly policies are your best tools for weeding out the garden-variety ghouls and hiring only the most motivated monsters.