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Should Your Company Use Pre-Employment Tests to Source, Sort, and Qualify Candidates?

They’ll help you move quickly to snag top talent, but make sure to keep the process personal.

It sounds like the Dark Ages, but it was actually only a couple of decades ago: The only thing an employer really knew about a job candidate was what they put on their resume. Sure, they could ask for references—but we all know how easy it is to get around that. A company would hire, only to discover they played the wrong card, and this person was not qualified.

How could they have made a better decision? Fast-forward to the present, where companies must move quickly if they want to snag the best talent for a position. Pre-employment testing tools—most of which are now online—give them the power to validate skills.

Hard skills

As a whole, they’re known as assessment tests. The best are valuable tools to determine skillsets and mindsets. They’re customizable so they can be used to drill right down to the specific qualifications a candidate needs to be successful with a position.

Most of these tests are used to assess hard skills. If you’re joining an IT department, you need to have more than basic computer skills. Your area of responsibility might be supporting specific equipment, hardware, and software, or to be versatile with several programming languages. An employer can test for these skills, right down to the brands found throughout the company.

Hard skills also include areas of expertise that are either native or learned. A candidate who will work with your Asian customers can be tested to ensure they’re fluent in, say, Mandarin. Are you looking for a spreadsheet ninja? You can arrange for candidates to take an assessment test that will validate their ability to tackle even the most difficult of pivot tables.

Soft skills

Hard skill assessments measure specific types of knowledge. Soft skill assessments help to validate experiential ability. Are you looking to expand your customer service department? You can train them how to use your call center system, but they need to show up on the first day possessing top-rate customer service skills.

Soft skills assessment tests allow companies to determine a candidate’s interpersonal abilities. These tests can be customized to look for certain qualities. Does your salesforce use consultative selling techniques? An assessment test can give you the level of certainty that a candidate has this particular talent.

Many of these tests have the goal of measuring communication skills. They can also give insight into a candidate’s capacity for working on teams. Time management assessment tests are available for candidates who will assume self-directed positions.

Personality tests

This collection of assessments is often the least understood. They’re not going to help you predict inappropriate behavior. Your organization wants to attract employees who will be comfortable with your company culture, and these assessments can be customized to ask the kinds of questions that help you confirm that a candidate shares your organization’s business philosophies. They are also helpful in determining a candidate’s reliability and trustworthiness.

We are advanced enough in the science of psychology to test for the exact personal character traits needed to excel in a specific position. The assessment you’ve heard of most often used for this purpose is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. It’s beneficial in helping an organization feel confident that a job candidate has the right mix of character traits—especially in management and leadership positions.

Cognitive tests

Not all assessments are meant to gauge what a candidate knows. Cognitive tests determine how a candidate thinks. Can they process new information? Are they able to analyze a complicated scenario and make a decision that advances company objectives?


We live in a well-connected world. It’s unlikely that a candidate will be completely caught off guard if asked to take pre-employment assessment tests. They’re aware that this is a common practice.

What sometimes gets missed in the process, though, is thoughtfulness and diplomacy. You’ve got competition out there if you’re trying to attract the top talent in your industry, and job candidates know this. They’re assessing you, just as you’re about to do the same for them.

Keep that in mind if you plan to ask candidates to take pre-employment assessments prior to being considered as a potential job candidate. It takes just a moment to set the stage. A future company superstar can hear one of two approaches:

  • Company policy. Mandatory. Required in order to be considered any further.

  • We don’t want to waste your time, or ours. These assessments help us to make sure we’re a good fit for each other.

Your first impression on a job candidate is important. It sets the stage for the lifecycle of their employment. Pre-employment testing helps you get in front of only the right people, and it can all be done online, remotely, with nothing but a browser and an Internet connection.

But make sure you keep the process personal.

If you are looking to find the right candidates for your company, look to Capital Markets Placement. Call us at 212.342.7430 or connect with us here.


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