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Can Pre-Employment Tests Help Build A Diverse Workforce?

Melissa Turner
Melissa Turner March 30, 2021
Diverse Workforce

It is becoming more apparent that a diverse workforce has numerous benefits for companies, employees, and society as a whole.

However, building a diverse workforce can sometimes prove to be a challenge, due to unconscious bias often encountered in the recruitment process. Recruitment methods that anonymise the applications and allow every individual to have an equal chance of success prove to be very effective in levelling the playing field.

Removing human judgement from the process results in a fairer system that leads to greater diversity in employee groups. Pre-employment tests are a valuable way to gather insights and assessments of each candidate before reaching the interview stage while providing fair and equal opportunities.

What is meant by a diverse workforce?

Diversity in the workplace comes down to having a mix of people in your company who come from different backgrounds, with different work and life experiences.

Welcoming a wide range of people into the workforce prevents organisations from being staffed by a homogenous group of employees who tend to think and act in similar ways.

So, what is considered a diverse workforce?

A mix of both women and men, with different sexual preferences, race, educational backgrounds, cultural and social values, religious beliefs, and disabilities.

A diverse group is more able to bring innovation, creativity, and flair to projects. When each member of the group feels valued and supported, which is the premise of inclusivity, they are able to participate and contribute fully.

It is becoming more evident that diversity in a workforce leads to better outcomes and ultimately, more profit, for the employer.

The benefits of building a diverse workforce

A diverse workforce brings numerous benefits to the workplace. A mix of employees from different backgrounds brings experience and viewpoints that broaden the outlook of the whole team.

When it comes to the impact of diversity in the workplace, the statistics speak for themselves. A top-down approach seems to be very effective, as The Boston Consulting Group found that a diverse leadership team can generate up to 19% more revenue than a team with below average diversity.

In a survey of over 1700 companies across eight countries, the Harvard Business Review found that companies with a diverse workforce are more innovative and can generate up to 12.9% higher revenue as a result.

As well as the financial benefits, hiring with diversity in mind also fulfils a social responsibility to provide fair chances for everyone. When the recruitment process offers equal opportunities for all, companies have a much larger pool of talent in which to find the ideal employees.

Candidates are becoming increasingly invested in working for companies that demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusivity, meaning that you become a more attractive prospect for potential employees.

How can pre-employment tests help to build diversity?

It seems quite obvious that a diverse workforce is desirable and you'd be hard-pressed to find an employer that disagrees. However, in practice, we know that many companies and organisations fall short of achieving their diversity and inclusion targets. Why is this?

Unconscious bias plays a big part in the decision-making process involved in hiring. Judging other people is a normal human trait that would be impossible to entirely eliminate, even with the best of intentions.

Unconscious bias refers to the beliefs and stereotypes that people hold that are outside of their conscious awareness. Everyone has unconscious bias and by its very definition, we are not aware of it and therefore, cannot reliably override it.

For this reason, there are techniques that aim to eliminate these influences to create a completely fair hiring process.

At the very start of the recruitment process, the company must use inclusive language and images in job descriptions and communications. Following this, pre-employment tests can provide an assessment tool that requires no involvement from hiring managers at the early stages, therefore removing unconscious bias, and enabling a 'blind' interview process.

Pre-employment tests often include psychometric assessments to give employers an accurate picture of the ability, traits, and strengths of each candidate with all personal details removed. It becomes impossible for unconscious bias to play a part when employers do not know the identity of the applicants, creating a fairer, performance-based review system.

The results of a pre-employment test, along with anonymised application forms create a level playing field for all applicants that naturally results in employing the strongest candidates, regardless of their background.

What are the best pre-employment tests for eliminating bias?

The best pre-employment tests for eliminating bias are tests that can be taken anonymously that can also accurately reflect a candidate's suitability for the role to which they are applying.

Psychometric tests are considered a highly effective method of assessment. These tests are typically developed by psychologists and are designed to assess the natural aptitude, capabilities, and personality traits of an individual.

Undertaking psychometric tests does not require any pre-existing skill set, experience, or specialist area of knowledge, so they can be used on any applicant, for any job role, in any industry. The tests can be taken remotely, and the candidate's identity can be withheld at no detriment to the test process, creating a reliable, blind interview process.

1. Numerical Reasoning Test

A numerical reasoning test is a psychometric assessment designed to measure a candidate's ability to read, analyse, and draw conclusions from numerical data. It requires a good understanding of basic mathematical principles but no advanced or complex mathematical knowledge, so it is suitable for any candidate.

The numerical reasoning test does not take the format of a standard academic maths test but instead asks the candidate to apply mathematical skills to real life situations. A typical question presents data in a graph or chart format and asks a series of questions requiring the candidate to apply the correct logic to answer.

2. Verbal Reasoning Test

A verbal reasoning test assesses a candidate's ability to make deductions from a passage of text. The passage of text can be around any subject and in any format.

A typical verbal reasoning test question might give a series of statements and ask the reader whether they are true, false, or whether there is insufficient information to answer accurately.

All jobs require at least a basic ability to read and interpret written information, so this is an important skill to assess in the recruitment process. Tests can be chosen to reflect the difficulty of the work involved in the relevant job role.

3. Logical Reasoning Test

A logical reasoning test is designed to assess the ability to apply logic and systematically work through information to reach a conclusion.

There are several formats of logical reasoning test, including inductive reasoning, diagrammatic reasoning, and abstract reasoning. Companies can choose which is most appropriate for their organisations and job role.

The results of a logical reasoning test can indicate how well a candidate might perform at forecasting, strategy, and analysis aspects of a job.

4. Situational Judgement Test

As well as recognising a person's aptitude and ability, it can also be useful to assess how they might perform in the workplace. Situational judgement tests present the candidate with a typical workplace scenario and ask them to choose from a list of possible reactions in line with which they feel is most suitable and most accurately reflects their own view.

When a high number of applicants have similar academic achievements, the situational judgement test can be a useful way to further analyse their suitability for the role, without the possibility of interviewer bias.

5. Personality Test

Some job roles rely heavily on a certain personality type to fit the criteria for recruiting suitable employees. For example, law enforcement positions might require assertiveness and decisiveness, whereas teaching roles rely more on empathy and patience.

A personality test can indicate a person's values and priorities, how they communicate with others and how they might fit into the team. It can complement the results gained from aptitude tests to create an all-round assessment of each candidate.

The ability to administer a blind test in this way also helps avoid decisions made on stereotypes and allows each individual candidate to be assessed on their merits.

Melissa Turner
Melissa Turner March 30, 2021

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