what you need to know.

  • career advice
  • April 12, 2018

The market for a wide range of employee assessment and testing tools — including pre-employment screening — continues to grow. As many as 60 percent of employees take workplace assessments annually, and that figure doesn’t include the increasingly widespread and sophisticated pre-hiring tests that prospective employees are being asked to take prior to being hired.

Why do employers conduct pre-hiring testing? How do they administer them? What are they testing for? And isn’t the entire hiring process enough of a test already?

Relax. In this article, Randstad has everything you need to know to take the stress out of pre-hiring tests and assessments.

first of all, why test?

There are a number of reasons why tests — time-consuming and challenging though they may seem — are actually good for both employers and employees alike. For starters, gathering data about prospective employees makes it easier to compare candidates in more objective terms. And that can protect candidates from being the victims of hidden biases — which is definitely not the case when employers are “hiring from the gut.” Even better, for candidates who are hired, these assessments can be used to build personalized professional development programs, which tap into the employee’s unique strengths while providing training in areas where he or she can improve.

Within organizations, there are also department-specific drivers for pre-hiring assessments and testing. IT leaders, for instance, often need candidates with specific coding or programming expertise, and asking candidates to actually demonstrate that skill set is a no-brainer. In fact, this kind of vetting tends to expedite the hiring process, as unqualified candidates are weeded out early on. And anyone who has waited weeks (or more) between rounds of interviews knows that a faster hiring process is a good thing. For HR leaders, introducing testing and assessment programs may help position the department as a strategic business partner capable of supporting organizational transformation through more targeted talent acquisition practices.

the three most common personality assessments.

While there are hundreds of different personality assessment tools on the market today, three of the most common across industries are DiSC, Harrison Assessments (HA) and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). All three are self-assessment tests — that is, tests in which you answer questions about yourself — but there are important differences between them that you should be aware of.

  • DiSC — which stands for dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness — is a personality test used by over 1 million people every year. Bear in mind that DiSC does not measure your intelligence, aptitude, mental health or values. The goal of the test is to understand behavioral preferences and differences. Employers using DiSC assessments are likely trying to gauge how well you’d fit in with the team. 
  • HA differentiates itself from DiSC and MBTI by focusing not on personality per se, but on job suitability related to a specific work context. The test considers the influence of individual traits on performance in different job functions and uses data from real employees in those roles to establish benchmarks. Employers often use HA in an attempt to predict whether a candidate is likely to succeed in a given role. 
  • MBTI was originally designed as a personality assessment tool based on the theory of psychological types pioneered by psychologist Carl Jung. It looks at the preferences of individuals, particularly in their use of perception and judgment. Like DiSC, MBTI is most often administered to prospective employees when employers are trying to determine if they are a good fit for the team.

industry-specific assessments.

The requirements for success are different for every role and industry, but the general trend toward pre-employment testing is likely to pick up speed in the years to come. Read on to see what types of assessments and tests you can expect to see in your industry.

  • Office and administrative: Many companies are turning to assessment software that not only tests office and administrative employees on soft skills, like communication and organization, but also on typing speed and accuracy, as well as proficiency with applications like Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and QuickBooks — whatever programs are most critical for success in the role. 
  • Customer service: Customer service representatives are accustomed to being measured on speed, computer proficiency and soft skills like verbal communication. But today, before fielding their first phone call, customer service candidates may also be asked to take personality tests, like the Customer Service Aptitude Profile (CSAP), that zero-in on traits like patience, diplomacy and overall cooperativeness. 
  • Finance and accounting: The number of jobs for accountants and auditors is expected to grow 10 percent by 2026, and employers will need to know that candidates not only look good on paper, but also have the skills to back up their resumes. Going forward, to land an interview, finance and accounting candidates will first need to ace pre-hiring tests. These tests will vary in difficulty and scope depending on the role, but the general focus will be on skill set and aptitude — not personality. The format is usually multiple choice. 
  • Tech/IT: Pre-hiring tests for relevant programming and coding skills has been the norm in tech-heavy roles for several years now. What’s new is that many companies are consolidating and automating all aspects of pre-hiring screening, so that soft skills and technical savvy are evaluated in a single test. This can help companies enlarge and streamline their talent pool, but they should also be aware that these tests can lead to public backlash if they are not well designed.

Of course, acing these tests is only a single step in the hiring process — but it’s a necessary step for getting your foot in the door. To get noticed, you’ll also need to make sure you have the right keywords in your resume and content customized for the job that you’re applying for.

Randstad is an expert at sourcing talent across industries. We combine best-in-class technology with a human touch to match candidates with companies that will facilitate their career development and growth. Ready to gain valuable professional experience? Find out how partnering with Randstad can help today.