Pre-Employment Assessments

The Complete Guide to Pre-Employment Assessments

In this guide, you’ll learn…

What is a Pre-employment Assessment

A pre-employment assessment is an evaluation tool that assists in identifying the strengths and motivations of applicants to predict how well they would perform in the job they are applying for.

Traditionally, various screening tests and surveys are used to identify the most qualified applicants during the interview process. A comprehensive pre-employment assessment consists of several areas able to fully evaluate a candidate, including an individual’s personality, their strengths/weaknesses, and work-related competencies.

A robust pre-employment assessment has the ability to consolidate important data points that might otherwise come as separate assessment tools, such as:

  • Personality assessments, which help identify the candidates who potentially fit within the company culture and work well on the team. If applicants have the skills for the role, but they don’t fit the culture, managers will think twice before moving them forward in the hiring process.
  • Strength and weakness evaluations provide insight into an applicant’s ability to fit in the role given their characteristics. These evaluations usually include a series of preferential questions to identify the top strengths of the applicant to see if their strengths align with the role.
  • Competency assessments help determine how well a candidate will likely perform in a job role. However, candidates are provided a small project or task to complete which hiring managers can review and see how skilled the applicant is. This is more indicative of the applicant’s actual performance.

Reasons to Invest in a Pre-Employment Assessment

The traditional hiring process presents common problems: Interviewers get only a snapshot of a candidate rather than a well-rounded view, most of what you learn about the candidate is skill-based, and your impression of the candidate comes down to just a few minutes in a room together. Comprehensive pre-employment assessments can help uncover tendencies and motivators that aren’t identifiable in the traditional hiring process, and they provide more data-driven insight into applicant capabilities and behaviors. When employees are matched with more fitting jobs, they perform better, stay in the role longer, and work more discretionary hours. Pre-employment assessments can transform the way you look at applicants.

Common Traits Interviewers Look For in Candidates

  • Motivated Applicants vs. Interview-Skilled Applicants: Pre-employment assessments can better identify which applicants are motivated to work for your company. Many applicants are looking for a job and can do well in the interview, but that doesn’t mean they’re motivated for the position or the company. They may just be looking for stability. At the same time, motivated applicants may not perform well in the interview, but they can be skilled and highly interested in the mission of the company. These assessments reveal the intrinsic characteristics of an applicant that interviews cannot.
  • True Weaknesses Post-Hiring: The resume and cover letter indicate the strengths of the applicant and how appropriate they are for the position. The interview can reveal the weaknesses of the candidate if the interviewers can identify them, but a well-prepared candidate will do well in the interview. Everyone has weaknesses, and assessments identify the weaknesses that interviews miss before making an employment offer. This also determines the amount and type of training candidates may need.
  • Team Collaboration: You need to know if applicants will work well with other team members. Interviews don’t replicate the same situation as a team project, and you don’t know how well an applicant will fit into your company culture. Having assessments prepared on each team member can reveal potential areas of conflict, help team members understand the capabilities and personality of their team, and be utilized to create better synergy between members.
  • High-Potential Employees: Pre-employment tests reveal more than the current profile of the candidate. They identify areas of potential that can benefit you in the future. Investing in these areas of potential help engage the employee which can lead to longer retention and even succession planning. Revisiting these reports when higher-level positions open up reveals which employees can thrive in these roles.
  • Competency Modeling: What makes your top employees perform best? Assessments collect personality data from the team (including all performance quartiles) which can reveal the differentiators that set them apart. These characteristics are the foundation for a success model based on the behavioral competencies of top performers. Important: This process has to be done scientifically with statistical analysis; it’s not guesswork.

What to Look for in an Effective Assessment

Quality assessments are specific to the roles and functions of the job. For example, generic personality tests are nice and can be useful to have, but they need to have intentional use. Here are some of the qualities of an effective assessment:

  • Work-Related Behaviors: Does the assessment specifically measure work-related behaviors, as opposed to generic strengths?
  • Validity: Is the assessment appropriate for the way you’re using it? Is it scientifically-validated?
  • Versatility: Can the information in the report offer additional insights that show their performance in other areas, or will they have to take more tests?
  • Cognitive measurement: Does the tool measure how a person is inclined to approach problem-solving?
  • Compliance: Is the assessment compliant with federal and state guidelines?
  • Format: Is the assessment complex enough that it can’t be easily duped or replicated?

While there are many other questions you need to ask when finding a credible assessment tool, these questions will help you narrow what’s effective.

Choosing a Scientifically Validated Pre-Employment Assessment

Before you choose a pre-employment assessment, it’s important to keep in mind two things: First, there are many assessments available on the market that are not validated by data or scientific research. Secondly, if you are using assessments that aren’t scientifically validated, they won’t provide tangible insight into an individual’s potential ability or inclinations.

Creating a well-designed form and labeling it a “Personality Test” isn’t difficult. All it requires is a questionnaire, scored answers, and results based on the final score. However, if the test is not validated with research and data, there’s no way to determine any real correlation between a candidate’s answers and the results they receive. Be sure to look for credible, or even certified assessments, like the Caliper Profile. When companies implement ineffective pre-employment assessments, they often create more problems down the road when their hiring doesn’t work out the way they planned.

What makes an assessment validated?

Any legitimate assessment instrument meets scientific standards for Construct Validity. That means it has been tested using commonly accepted scientific practices, to make sure it measures what it purports to measure. For example, if an assessment tool claims to evaluate an applicant’s proficiency to learn new skills, the testing has to show, on a repeatable basis, that the questions within the assessment indeed measure that attribute and not some other quality (or nothing).

Nonetheless, relying on Construct Validity leaves too much room for assumptions. You need a second data point to validate the predicted performance. This is where Criterion Validity comes in.

Criterion Validity is how well one measure predicts the outcome of another measure. In the case of Caliper assessments, measure one is “personality traits” and measure two is “job performance.”

The Caliper Profile meets industry requirements for both Construct and Criterion Validity, which greatly increases predictive power.

We have linked personality to job performance across all major industries and revealed the true performance drivers of success in a multitude of sales, service, management, and technical positions. Hiring managers can confidently identify the intrinsic motivations and workplace behaviors of applicants to hire the most qualified applicants and build training plans.

No hiring or promotion decision should ever be based solely on the results of a pre-employment or personality assessment, but when companies use assessments that meet standards both for Construct Validity and Criterion Validity, they should be confident they are acting on the very best information available.

Common Hiring Mistakes Pre-employment Assessments Help You Avoid

As we said, the traditional hiring process places qualified applicants at a disadvantage if they are skilled for the position, but their strengths don’t lie in the areas of writing resumes/cover letters nor performing well in interviews. Here are some of the common mistakes pre-employment tests help you avoid:

  • Placing Too Much Emphasis on Experience and Not Enough on Potential: 5 years of experience doesn’t equate to 5 years of high performance. Experience and potential need to be considered.
  • Placing Undue Weight on Interview Performance: Many hiring managers believe the most qualified candidate will have a perfect interview. Realistically, the best applicant can have a so-so interview.
  • Hiring Too Many People with Similar Work Styles: Staffing a team with the same skillsets or backgrounds leave gaps in performance. Candidate profiles help identify the strengths you need.
  • Overlooking Cultural Fit: A candidate may be highly qualified for a job, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will fit the company culture.
  • Being Overly Impressed by Formal or Ivy League Education: While education is important, it doesn’t indicate how well the applicant will actually perform on the job.
  • Thinking All Hiring Red Flags Can Be Fixed with Training: Customized training for the same role only goes so far. Not everyone is driven by the same things. Employees have different passions, so fitting employees into the right role is important since you can’t train anyone for the same role.
  • Poaching Candidates from Competitors: If an employee is poached from a competitor, we should be asking why they decided to change companies. Is it loyalty? Is the position actually that good?
  • Spending Too Much Time in the Interview Talking Instead of Listening: An in-depth discussion about the role and the company allows the candidate to talk through the script they’ve prepared. Asking targeted questions gives you a better sense of their personality and who they are.

The traditional interview process has flaws in the structure, in the bias of the hiring manager, the applicant’s skills in resume writing and job interviewing, and more. Pre-employment assessments act as blanket coverage to capture lost indicators of employee performance, and they can leverage your team by who is and isn’t hired.

Interested in learning more about what makes an effective assessment? Download our guide here!

Pre-employment Assessments FAQs

What are pre-employment assessments?

Pre-employment assessments are evaluation tools used to identify the strength and motivations of applicants and predict how well they would perform in the job role. They cover the pitfalls of the traditional hiring process like bias among hiring managers, provide structured consistency when narrowing applicants, and they build a data pool of candidates.

How do pre-employment assessments work & how can I implement them into my organization?

Applicants take an assessment as part of the application process. Their results are analyzed and provided to hiring managers to determine how well they fit into the role. Once an applicant or employee takes the Caliper Profile, managers can easily see how well the candidate fits into the desired job role.

What are the benefits of pre-employment assessments?

Pre-employment assessments identify qualified applicants outside of the interview, the strengths/weaknesses of each candidate, how well they’ll fit within the team, and reveal high potential employees.

Do they really work? What are the statistics?

Certain assessments like the Caliper Profile work if they are validated. Validation methods include Construct Validity and Criterion Validity.

Develop Talent to Their Full Potential with Caliper

Building your team is vital to the performance of your company. You need to be certain you’re hiring the right person. They need to have the skills to fill the role, fit within the company culture, have the motivation to perform in the role, and deliver results. With the Caliper Profile, we can make this as seamless as possible. Want to take a look at how these products can help your company? Contact us and we can get you on the right path to developing more successful employees.