Pre-employment Testing: The Definitive Guide

One bad hire in the organization can lead to monetary as well as time loss. As per the survey conducted by CareerBuilder, companies are losing approximately $15,000 per bad hiring decision that they make.

What is Pre-employment Testing?

This test has gained a permanent position in the hiring processes lately due to the vast number of job applicants. Where the internet has made it easier for job applications to quickly apply for jobs, but on the other hand, it has toughened up the process of shortlisting good candidates from the large pool of applicants. According to a study, an average of 250 resumes is submitted for a corporate job opening. So, the process of filtering and managing a large talent ocean becomes somehow easier with the testing as resume spammers are going to be always there. 


Evolution of Pre-Employment Test

If we dwell on the past of the pre-employment tests, then the first traces of this type of employment testing can be seen in the recruitment of the US Army in World War 1. The Army Alpha and Beta tests were conducted over 1.75 million military recruits to scale candidates on multiple grounds such as –

  • Test the intelligence level of the recruits;
  • The scoring system was used to keep personal judgment at bay;
  • The test was made neutral from the schooling and educational aspects;
  • Series of tests were held to measure the intelligence of the recruits in a short time.

This was the first knock of the pre-employment testing in the recruitment process, but the evaluation story of the pre-employment testing is far more intense and interesting. The evaluation of the test includes four vital phases –

Pen-Paper Based Test

The pen and paper-based pre-employment tests were organized roughly 30-40 years back before the emergence of the computer. In this test, job applicants are provided with the questions and an answer sheet to write down all the answers as per the asked questions. The candidates were given a substantial amount of time to write down all the answers. This test analyzes numerous skills of candidates like how they perform under intense situations, how good they are at time management, how quickly they can think, and so on. 

After the completion of the test, the HRD, or any other high-ranked executive would analyze the answers and score them unbiasedly. Then, the candidates who had performed well in the test would be called up for the interview and the process goes on. But, this test eliminates all the incompetent candidates from the hiring cycle. 

Computer Based Test

With the evaluation of the computers, pen and paper have been removed from the hiring equation and replaced with computer-based tests. The format of the computer-based pre-employment tests used to be the same as paper and pen tests where candidates were called in the office and given a couple of tasks. But, the only difference is that they have to complete the test on a particular computer. This test was introduced mainly to test the technical skills of the candidates because all the operations of the companies are computerized today. 

Similarly, the computer-based test is monitored by the HRD people and they use computer intelligence along with their own intelligence to select the perfect candidates for the job.

Online Pre-employment Tests

With the advancement of technology and the speed of the internet, online pre-employment testing has resurfaced as a popular way of testing. This test allows businesses to target global talent. Candidates can take the online pre-employment test from anywhere around the globe and swiftly get their skills evaluated. It roughly takes up to 5 seconds to provide the result of the online testing that saves up lots of time and resources of the companies to invite candidates to take up the test. 

Moreover, online tests are powered by cloud support as well. That means the data of the candidates can be easily saved on the cloud and the talent pool can be developed by the companies. This is the best way to mobilize global talent and grow your brand plus with online testing tools like Xobin – the process of pre-employment testing even becomes easier and smoother.

Video-Based Employment Tests

It is the newest way of conducting the pre-employment tests where candidates are asked to create a small video showcasing their talents. The recruiters can ask candidates to demonstrate their particular skills using the videos and send them along with their applications so that recruiters can only call the applicants for the next phase of the interview who really possess some skills. 

This method has made pre-employment testing very simple and convenient for the recruiters as they won’t have to deal with incompetent candidates anymore. Moreover, videos can be played or paused multiple times to carefully scrutinize the skills of the candidates. 

From pen-paper tests to video tests, the evaluation of the pre-employment testing is a whimsical journey. This testing has evaluated a lot with the passage of time and tweaking of the technology, but this is not an end – as the future holds numerous evaluations for the pre-employment testing.

Importance of Pre-employment Testing


#1 Time Benefit

When a job position is advertised by the company, then lots of candidates apply for the position. Generally, candidates just look at the job description for 10 seconds and apply for the position. But, when the HRD has to go through hundreds of resumes and make telephonic calls to set interviews and at the end, they find that the candidate lacks the basic skills – then that is pure wastage of time. Moreover, this fact fuels the chances of resume spammers as 85% of candidates lie in their resumes. 

But, thanks to the well-structured and short pre-employment tests, now recruiters can eliminate all those resume spammers from the hiring process easily. Along with the job advertisement or on the first call to the applicants, HR can send a small test to assess the skills of the candidates and only call candidates with the acing skills for the next interview phase. This will save up lots of time for the recruiters. 

#2 Cost-Benefit

If you hire an incompetent employee for your organization, but you realized that after 5-6 months, then you might have already wasted so many resources of your company on the employee in the form of a monthly salary. It is stated that the cost of a bad hire can touch the figures of 30% of the employee’s first year earning. So, if we put the economies like the US into consideration, then the US Department of Labor stated that a bad hire can cost around $240,000 in expenses. The figures for bad hire can vary from country to country, but the fact is going to be – the bad hire is financial trouble. 

With pre-employment testing, when the skills of the candidates are tested on the grounds of the scientifically designed tests, then you won’t have to spend a penny of your company on incompetent candidates. You just simply drop unfit candidates from your talent pool and move ahead with skilled people only. 

#3 Candidate Friendly Brand

Today, if you are searching for the best candidates for your organization, then professionals are also looking for highly-reputed companies to work where they have the option to grow and learn more. Now, here if you receive a negative remark about your recruitment process because it’s too long, not properly executed, showing favoritism or any other negative shade, then according to Glassdoor, 55% of candidates will never apply to your organization again. 

Thus, by using the pre-employment testing, you will be clearly conveying the message that you hire based on the merits only. All the speculations from the candidate’s mind will be eliminated that you give preference to certain college degrees or people. It just builds a democratic image of your brand that you select people on the basis of their skills only – nothing else matters to you. This is a huge positive branding for your company. 

#4 Automation reduces steps and simplifies the process

This is one of the most important use cases of pre-employment testing because automation brings speed, authentication, and transparency to the recruitment process. Now, if you put a link of your employment test along with the job post and set an automatic filter of shortlisting candidates scoring above 50 marks, then this way you will only receive the job applications of the actually talented candidates only. And, this will boost the speed of the screening process. 

Moreover, the test is scored by the computer automatically without any human intervention so the test result is just generated within 5 seconds. So, you don’t have to wait up any longer for the test results because automatic testing is fast and correct without any traces of personal judgment. On the top, to test more efficiently, you can add different automatic filters in it like immediately interviewing candidates scoring above 50 marks and put candidates scoring 40 marks in the latter option or instantly reject their applications. With the automatic system, simplification can be introduced into the recruitment process and easy hiring flow can be maintained by the companies. 

#5 Legal benefits

While formulating a hiring process, companies have to follow the legal guidelines issued under EEOC compliance. Under this legal binding, the applicants and employees are given protection from employment discrimination based on race, religion, sex, color, nationality, disability, or any other generic basis. This law shields the rights of job applicants and employees from malfunctioning workplace practices. 

With the pre-assessment testing, you can meet all the standard guidelines of EEOC compliance and create a centric hiring process. As human intervention has been completely eliminated from the process and decision is made on the grounds of merits only, then you won’t ever have to face legal complications in the hiring system. Moreover, if anyone ever objects to your hiring basis, then you will have a score to show and justify your claim. So, this one test can protect you from all future legal troubles. 

Types of Pre-employment Testing

Pre-employment testing is categorized into various tests that can analyze different personality, aptitude, and skill traits of the candidates. According to the requirement of the job position, the pre-employment tests can be conducted in various different sizes and styles. But, if we narrow down the operational area of the employment testing, then it can be categorized under five main heads. 

► Aptitude Tests

An aptitude test is used to measure some basic abilities of the candidates such as critical thinking, problem-solving, number crunching, processing new information, and so on. In a manner, aptitude tests help in accessing the general intelligence or brainpower of the candidates. As per the report presented by LinkedIn, the two prominent qualities that employers seek in the candidates are – 65% of problem-solving skills and 64% of the ability to learn new concepts quickly. 

These abilities are hard to access from resumes and interviews, thus aptitude tests are helpful here. This test can be used in any professional context like testing English speaking skills or leadership skills, but the aptitude test is highly rewarding in mid or high-level job hirings. It is the single most accurate test that can predict job performance to the point. It has been revealed that cognitive aptitude tests are very good at predicting performance as compared to the other hiring criteria such as interviews and resumes. 

► Psychometric Tests

Psychometric is the educational stream that targets the theory and techniques of psychology measurements. So, in short, psychometric is the process of psychology measurements. In the context of pre-employment testing, psychometric tests measure whether the behavioral traits of the candidates are aligned with the culture of the business organization or not. If the culture and values of the candidates don’t match up with the culture of the organization, then they won’t be able to provide the best results. 

Every job profile demands a particular set of behavioral traits and a person lacking those traits won’t be able to offer the perfect services. Such behavioral traits of a manager generally include leadership qualities, patience skills, innovative ideologies, problem-solving techniques, and so on. Thus, by undertaking the psychometric pre-employment test, you will be able to understand the behavioral traits of the candidates and select the candidates with the maximum behavioral traits. 

► Automated Coding Tests

Automated coding tests or online coding tests are used to test the specific technical skills of the candidates. When candidates are applying for the technical job role like a developer, coder, etc., then the companies can use automated test platforms like Xobin and take the process of testing the skills of the applicants towards automation. 

Suppose if you want to hire a Java developer for your tech firm, then the resume and interview will only tell you about the qualifications and experiences of the candidates, but to test the actual programming skills of the applicants, you need to perform automated coding tests. Using Xobin, you can formulate a Java coding test for your applicants that they can take anywhere online and the result of the coding will be automatically generated by the platform. Without any sort of human intervention, the coding skills can be tested and quick results can be driven. 

► Function Specific Tests

In an organization, employees related to different functions are hired such as marketing, finance, HR, IT, and others. So, now if one employee can’t perform all the functions, then how come you can use one pre-employment test to access the abilities of all the employees. According to job functions, different function-specific pre-employment tests need to be designed. Because you can’t test the skills of the HR candidates by giving them coding tests – that would be useless. 

For example, when you are hiring applicants specific for HR duties, then you will be testing – recruitment planning skills, how to target good candidates, how can a candidate handle employee conflicts, payroll management skills, and so on. But, now if you are hiring accountants, then you have to target different functions like tax knowledge, accounting software skills, bookkeeping abilities, and so on. Thus, when you are searching for candidates to perform different functions in your organization, then use function-specific pre-employment tests only for the accurate assessment. 

► Video Interviews

The video interview is the latest way of conducting pre-employment tests. In this, applicants can create videos demonstrating their skills and recruiters can quickly watch videos to access the performance of the candidates. Video interviews 6X faster 404 than the phone interviews as 5 minutes of the video interview is equivalent to 200 written questions. Moreover, video interviews can be organized in multiple different ways. But, the two common video interview methods are –

► Pre-recorded Video Interview 

In this video interview format, recruiters can add the questions in the job post and ask candidates to record a video demonstrating answers to the questions. Thus, recruiters can watch the videos and analysis of the performance of the candidates. They can draw conclusions based on the candidate’s video interviews and call candidates with the optimum skills for the next round of an interview. 

► Live Video Interview 

It is a type of face-to-face interview where recruiters and candidates talk through a virtual screen.  The recruiters can use Xobin to conduct live video interview seasons with the job applicant. They can use a wide range of questions suggested by the software to make a video interview more result-driven. On the top, the platform will automatically analyze the video interviews and provide the correct assessment to the recruiters within a few seconds. This way management doesn’t need to organize office interviews and can save up interview setup costs along with numerous other benefits. 

How Companies Use Pre-employment Tests

According to the Talent Board’s 2016 Candidate Experience Research report, 82 percent of companies are using some form of the pre-employment assessment test. This data clearly states that pre-employment testing is highly used by companies in different forms and ways. Generally, pre-employment tests are introduced in the three basic recruitment cycles by the companies including –

Leadership and CXO Level – Culture Fit and Psychometric Tests

Pre-employment tests have been prominently used for the higher level hirings as well. The companies use advanced-level tests like culture fit and psychometric tests to hire candidates for the CEO position as well. The psychometric tests help in understanding whether the person will adjust to your business culture or not. If the leader of the organization can’t fit the culture of the organization, then how can he motivate other employees. Thus, it is very important to use pre-employment tests to select the right leader for your organization. 

Mid Management – Use Skills Tests, Domain-Specific Tests

While hiring the employees for the management work or specific functions, the companies are using the skill tests. Using pre-employment skill tests, companies can check whether the particular candidate has a trait to perform a certain job or not. Suppose, if a company is hiring a candidate for the manager’s role, then through a skill test – the leadership, commutation, and other abilities can be accessed. 

Entry Level – University Recruitment and Campus Hiring

When companies hire free candidates from the campus hiring, then they use basic aptitude tests to access the skills of the candidates. The basic tests give an idea about the general skills of the candidates like English speaking skills. So, at the entry-level, companies use pre-employment testing to just access the fundamental traits of the applicants. 

Validity and Compliance while using Pre-employment Test

This is a very important question that everyone asks regarding the pre-employment tests – how much they are valid and compliance regarding the job. Talking about the validity criteria of the pre-employment tests, we can say that this test proves its validity on the four basic grounds –

Construct Validity

The construction validity notifies that the test is going to do what it is supposed to do. If you are performing an aptitude test to access the communication skills of the candidates, then it will offer the correct analysis related to the communication. 

Content Validity

It shows that every question or phrase included in the test has a purpose. Each question included in the particular test is offering some sort of clearance to the recruiters. For example, if you are conducting a test to examine the competency of the candidates, then each question present in the test is a roadmap to the competency. In one or another way, the test content will show you different traits of a candidate’s competency skills. 

Concurrent Validity 

It is part of the pre-employment testing that deals with the organization’s internal affairs. When a company wants to know whether the efforts made to test the skills and competency of the employees have been providing accurate results or not, they can validate it using a concurrent process. It presents whether the high-scored employees of the company are actually that good or not. 

This validity is applicable to the current employees of the company only. It shows the score generated after the competency test of the employees. With this validation, companies will know which employees are good and which are bad. For the proper management of the company, concurrent tests are very important and useful. 

Predictive Validity 

It is a very helpful validity for the recruiters and HR people who want to analyze the capabilities of the external candidates before giving them a position in the organization. This validation defines the capabilities of candidates in the context of the business culture. It is highly useful when companies want to hire competent employees who can adopt the work culture of an organization. 

In a nutshell, it is a prediction of whether the particular person or job applicant can understand the work culture of an organization and provide high productivity. It is a predictive assurance that the person has all the skill sets to work in the company and successfully take forward its operations. 

Besides the validation process, there is compliance that needs to be followed while performing the pre-employment testing. The compliance ensures that pre-employment testing is conducted in the most unbiased manner without the intervention of any personal interest. The compliance is reliability indicating that the results-driven from the same test twice at different timings to a group of applications is going to the same. 

To valid the pre-employment tests, the following set of compliance need to be followed – 

  • The structure of the pre-employment test should not vary for the group of applicants. The criteria of pre-employment tests for the female and male candidates need to be the same. 
  • The legal framework regarding employment testing should be followed strictly. Guidelines of pre-employment testing are quite similar to the other recruitment compliance, including avoiding discrimination, adherence to state laws, etc. 
  • Multiple psychometric measures are utilized to determine the validation of pre-employment tests. These validations have to be scientifically proven. 
  • The pre-employment test must-have attributes that determine the job-related skills, capabilities, and qualities of the candidates. If a test doesn’t comply with the skill-testing, there’s no purpose of conducting such a test. 
  • The test should be simple to integrate with the recruitment process of the organization. Tests should be easily amalgamated into the setup of an organization without putting burden. 

Pre-Employment Test FAQs

Now, we have fully analyzed pre-employment testing and multiple forces working behind it. However, if you have a few lingering thoughts lurking in your mind related to the testing, you don’t have to search anywhere else. It is an ultimate pre-employment testing guide for the newbies; thus, we have addressed all the common queries regarding the employment assessment tests. Just go through the FAQs once and clear all the leftover questions quickly. 

  • Why Are Pre-employment Tests Conducted? 

The primary purpose of conducting pre-employment tests is to recognize the right candidates from the vast pool of talented people. For unbiased selection, the skills, personality traits, job relevance, and other predictive tests are conducted to examine the candidate’s performance. It is beneficial for the business organization as well as applicants. 

It facilitates companies to recruit highly competent professionals after getting complete clarity on the facts such as what they want, how they can save time and cost, etc. On the other hand, candidates get the leverage of getting tested anytime and anywhere under the familiar environment of their home. 

  • What Does the Employment Assessment Tests Screen?

Candidates should not worry about taking the job assessment tests because the test will be framed strictly according to the job role. It indicates that all questions will be completely relevant to the job. You won’t be analyzed on the basis of a pass or fail; you will be given scores based on the competency required to complete a particular job. 

To evaluate the capabilities of applicants, the recruiters can use various employment tests such as cognitive ability, personality, job-related skills, and other cultural fit tests. Thus, the type of job assessment test might vary, but the core objective of the test is going to be the same – testing the skills of candidates. Recruiters can use the combination of different soft and hard skill tests to analyze the candidates. But, they won’t analyze anything which isn’t relevant to the job. So, the candidates shouldn’t hesitate to take the test as it is for their own good. 

  • How to Pass Pre-Employment Tests?

Recruiters use the pre-employment tests to evaluate the skills of the candidates related to the job role for which they have applied. The testing is conducted at the initial stage of the hiring process to examine the traits and predict future performance. To get a job in the top-rated business organizations, applicants must have to pass the job assessment tests. Thus, if you want to pass an employment analysis test, you have to consider a few things –

  • You should be fit for the job role. The main purpose of the test is to eliminate unfit applicants. Thus, make sure that you are fully competent for the job role for which you have applied. 
  • The main criteria to design a job assessment test includes work management, work ethics, time management, and passion of the applicants. If you work on the question revolving around these criteria, you can easily pass the test. 
  • Whether you are preparing for the school or employment test, you have to practice hard to nail it. There’s no shortcut to success; thus, you should practice a lot before participating in the employment test. Nowadays, plenty of online material is available to prepare yourself for the test. 
  • How Long Does It Take To Complete the Assessment Test?

It is a very multilayered answer that depends on various factors and some other questions. There isn’t any standard time to complete the job assessment test. The test time is mainly determined by the company along with the invitation, which can vary from one company to another. 

  • Is Job Assessment Testing Legal?

In a word, Yes. Job assessment testing is completely legal. The test is legal, but the implementation of it won’t surpass any other laws. The pre-employment test should not include any type of discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender, religion, or age of the candidate appearing for the test. Moreover, third-party pre-employment testing is also legal unless the employers won’t allow anyone outsider to check the responses of the candidates. 


Pre-employment testing is a dynamic tool in the hands of business organizations to find the right candidates for a particular job role after analyzing various applicants unbiasedly. This test is highly useful for employees and employers. It is a scientifically proven method to empower the recruitment industry. 

With the thorough study of pre-employment testing, it is perfectly concluded that all proactive business organizations should definitely conduct job assessment testing to find the right candidates. Moreover, today, the process of testing has been automated with tools like Xobin. So, if you want to hire the right candidates, you should invest in pre-employment testing for sure.

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