3 min read

Testing Before Applying: Time-Saver or Ethical Nightmare?

Guy Thornton January 01, 2019

So, your candidate finally passed the lengthy interview process. They have moved on to the psychometric portion of hiring. And, then told they are not the “right fit.” Want to spare yourself and future candidates time and stress by moving the testing prior to interviewing?

Some companies are moving with this. But, is it the right move for you or your new potentials? While this may follow a certain logic, is it right? Explore both sides of the argument. Decide for yourself if this will truly save recruitment time. Or, further limit the hiring pool.

The initial suggestion is that people take a test before even applying for the job. How would they do that? Through their smartphones, of course. It only makes sense. The Arguments: Who Is This Really Better For? Smartphones are such a part of every day culture. Why not make applying for a job that much easier? Even better, the questions are posed as fun, and sometimes, abstract ways of getting a personality profile.

But, better for whom? True, companies will have access to many “profiles” that can be sifted through for desired traits. And it can be a truly un-biased way of looking at candidates. However, what happens when you just have a handful of the same type of applicants? Do you really want to interview five “risk-takers”?

What about others who may not necessarily be a profiled “risk-taker,” but bring other desirable traits to the table? This seems more like unspoken personality or cognitive requirements before you even apply for a job. “You must be this tall to ride this ride”? How about you must be an A or Z personality type to interview.

Proponents of this pre-interview type of testing say that this makes more sense. But, is moving psychometric testing ahead of interviewing really a better way? Supporters say that it saves time trying to fit a “circular” applicant into a “square” job opening. If that is true then, is looking for only square applicants more efficient?

And think about how the hiring experience will change if this becomes widely accepted. Both recruiters and candidates will have to change the way they do things. Recruiters will identify desirable traits to filter into a database of pre-applicants.

The applicants, however, have an additional step added to their job search. Not only do they have to formally apply and interview, but now they also have to take a test before all that. They can essentially be cut out from formally applying because a psychometric test said “no.” This would all happen prior to a recruiter knowing anything else beyond data scores of a pre-application test.

Keep in mind, that these tests are geared to be more personal. They are behavioral and aptitude tests. How can candidates not take this personally? One positive aspect comes out of being told they are not a good fit: feedback. If an applicant is deemed unfit, the company can tell them why based on psychometric data. This may or may not be constructive.

Also, you have to wonder what happens if a company mis-identifies their desirable traits. The stereotypical personality for a certain job may not be the best person for the job. Since people are so much more than personality types, how do you account for this potential error? Still, companies who have used this method are yielding positive results. Job retention is much higher using this method. You have to wonder, though, is it the pre-application method that is helping pick the right people? Or, a firmer understanding of how psychometric testing works?

Guy Thornton January 01, 2019

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