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Pre-employment Testing Software: What Are The Pros & Cons?

Rachel Buchanan
Rachel Buchanan April 19, 2021
Pre-employment Testing Software

If you're thinking of using new pre-employment testing software, there are some obvious pros and cons to consider – particularly when attempting to change minds and win over more traditional-thinking directors or decision-makers.

Using pre-employment tests to assist with the decision-making process is not new and has supplemented the recruitment process for over half a century in bigger businesses. Pre-employment testing software enhances that process, bringing objective data into what is otherwise a largely subjective task.

This article aims to address some of the pros and cons, allowing businesses to decide whether to include them in their recruiting process.

What is pre-employment testing software?

Pre-employment testing software uses technology to collect objective data that companies can use to assess candidates applying for a specific role. The idea is that the resulting decision will be more effective for the company and also made more quickly, both of which are of benefit to the company (and not just in terms of cost).

The pre-employment testing software will vary depending on role and company needs and is tailored to be relevant and specific to both the company and the job role. Pre-employment test examples include tests that measure and assess a candidate's knowledge, skill, behaviour traits, and characteristics.

Well-designed tests allow hiring managers to make objective decisions by presenting data-driven results that can be compared and ranked. Pre-employment tests are standardized and, in theory, give everyone the same chance of success.

Tests can be carried out in person at the company's offices, or they can be accessed virtually by candidates in the privacy of an environment that suits the candidate.

Why use pre-employment testing software?

The core reasons why employers use pre-employment testing software are:

  1. Increases the quality of hires

  2. Automates aspects of recruitment, saving time and money

  3. Uses comparative data to help shortlist top performers

  4. Tests a range of skills and abilities

  5. Reduces unconscious bias by using a data-driven approach

  6. Increase hiring diversity as a result of reduced bias

According to a survey by KornFerry, more than half of employers say that since pre-employment testing software was introduced to their recruitment process, they've been able to find more qualified people, and roles are filled in a more timely way.

Pros of pre-employment testing software

There are many benefits to a company in choosing to use pre-employment testing software during the hiring process. Here are 5 advantages:

1. Make better hiring decisions

Traditional interview and resume methods are becoming outdated and can lead to poor quality decision-making, whereby recruiters and hiring managers are more persuaded by someone who gives a good interview than someone with the real talent required for the role.

By using pre-employment tests this filter is removed and, in theory, all candidates stand a better chance of demonstrating that they have the right skills and are a better fit for the role long term.

That should lead to fewer new hires leaving after their probation period ends, and managers not having to spend disproportionate amounts of time managing poor performers.

Research by US staffing firm Robert Half found that managers spend 17% of their working week overseeing poorly performing employees, which could be significantly reduced by making better hiring decisions.

2. Remove unconscious bias

Even with the best will in the world, humans will have unconscious bias (and some managers may even have a more questionable actual bias).

These biases may not all be the same, and what may appeal to one person may not to another, but it is very hard to see a stream of potential candidates attend for an interview day and not make or infer particular traits and backgrounds as a better fit, even if managers can see past the more obvious gender and racial differences.

Even something as simple as a name can elicit a positive or negative response, which can be eliminated. Research in 2009 by NatCen Social Research found that applications received from people with ‘white sounding’ names were 74% more likely to receive a positive response than applications from people with an ethnic minority name.

3. Reduce costs

Inviting candidates to repeated interviews, even if some of those are conducted virtually, costs the company financially, especially in terms of the time required to be spent on the recruitment process and interviews.

Having to go through the re-hiring process after getting it wrong with a candidate costs far more, with research conducted by Oxford Economics and Unum in 2014 finding that the logistical costs of replacing a worker were between £3,000 and £6,000 per worker, depending on the size of the firm.

Such saved funds could be redeployed into something more beneficial for the company, to deliver fuller and longer-term returns.

4. Improve candidate experience

While the candidate's experience is not always at the forefront of recruiters' minds, the interview process is a two-way street and a chance for the candidate to decide whether their experience of the company during the interview day(s) matches up to their expectations.

Even the best and strongest candidates could still decline the role if they have had a bad experience. Automating the tests can help bring a standardized and on-brand approach to the interview process and by being easy to use, can impart a better candidate experience.

5. Save time with automation

Traditional interview and resume methods are time-consuming and can be repetitive, leaving a company open to the criticism that not all candidates were treated equally, both in terms of time spent with them as well as variance in questions asked.

Using a set of pre-employment tests saves this extraneous time per candidate, particularly if the candidate can carry out the tests without having to physically attend the office. Research by Accounts and Legal found that the time spent on screening job applicants plus full sets of interviews can take the best part of a working week in terms of hours if an average of 118 applicants apply per job and this is whittled down to six final candidates.

pre employment software pros cons

Cons of pre-employment testing software

There are also some potential downsides to a company implementing pre-employment testing software as part of the hiring process, which should be considered carefully when deciding to implement a new hiring regime.

1. Initial investment

There is no getting around the fact that pre-employment testing software has a cost, which may seem expensive. The nature of the product front-loads the costs, but course aims to make longer-term savings by reducing time expended on both the recruitment process and the inevitable re-hiring that occurs when a poor candidate is selected.

2. Fear of change

Relying, at least in part, on technology rather than paper and face-to-face interviews can be a big change for some businesses; one that they are not willing to embrace. That said, pre-employment testing software should enhance the recruitment process rather than wholesale replace it, so face-to-face interviews should still be a key part of the recruitment process.

3. Estimations

Tests – even objective tests – do not tell the whole story of a candidate, and can be ambiguous if looked at without other information. If such tests are relied on entirely, it leaves the recruitment manager still able to use their own, perhaps biased or unreliable, estimations to fill in the gaps.

4. Validity

If the tests used are not valid, they are not worth using, so businesses will need to ensure that the pre-employment testing software relies on valid and appropriate tests for the role that is being recruited.

Also, without proper execution, discrimination can still occur, particularly as certain tests can favour candidates from specific backgrounds.

5. Tests can lie

Candidates could either receive assistance in a skills-based test or, more usually, a candidate can be convinced of the 'best' way to answer a test rather than providing truthful answers.

This means that a candidate can present one side of their personality when in reality another, less suitable, side is more dominant, which might only come to light once work commences.

How Should I Choose the Best Pre-employment Testing Software?

To choose pre-employment testing software, you should first identify your hiring goals and objectives by creating a list of user requirements. It is also important to understand the skill tests you need to assess.

Using the user requirements that have been defined you should then research the top pre-employment testing software that is available.

Top pre-employment testing software

The top pre-employment testing softwares are:

  1. Picked
  2. Harver
  3. Pymetrics
  4. iMocha
  5. HackerRank
  6. HireVue
  7. SparkHire
  8. Test Gorilla
  9. Criteria
  10. SparkHire
Rachel Buchanan
Rachel Buchanan April 19, 2021

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