How to Handle Pre-employment Testing

Questions This Guidance Answers: 
  • What are pre-employment tests looking for?
  • Are pre-employment tests fair?
  • How do I 'win' pre-employment tests?

More and more, companies are using psychological and behavioral tests as pre-employment screening devices. They supplement their interviewing processes in order to ensure less false-positives. This is wise, in our judgment, based on what we see of interviewing. Too many companies don't screen rigorously enough, and have started enlisting more cerebral and/or technical techniques to be certain of new hires.

Even if you haven't experienced one yet, it's becoming more and more likely.

What does this mean for you? What's the best way to approach and be successful at pre-employment tests? This is Manager Tools, and we'll walk you through it.

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Extra Content

M&M great cast. I've just spent the

M&M great cast. I've just spent the last three months filing four positions. I am fairly new at this though. Fortunately I learned my lesson about poor-hires a couple of years ago. I really took your raise-the-bar cast to heart.

In regards to the Pre-Employment testing we use the Profile XT assessment in our process. I like to use it after the initial telephone interview. I see the results as a great opportunity to:
- Confirm what I saw in the initial interview was genuine
- Identify potential area of concern for discussion with the candidate and their references
- Determine the candidates fit with the rest of our team

Your comment about the long-wave interview seems so obvious when you are in the hiring position. Some of the things the candidates do that make me share my head and they seem oblivious to what impression they are making. The last one was the candidate that did everything through email. It left me thinking that he would do this if we hired him. Sometimes picking up the phone may take longer but it sure makes establishing a relationship easier.

Again great job and timely as usual; thanks again.


I agree that as candidates there is

I agree that as candidates there is little we can do about pre-employment testing other than try to excel at it. I have , however, seen psychometric testing used poorly in employment decisions to completely rule out someone regardless of their experience or other qualities because they did not fit the stereotypical personality profile for the position.

It really should come as no surprise I guess - if an organization is unable to perform behavioural testing properly what are the chances they will be able to use psychometric testing any better?

Mike and Mark, Personality profile

Mike and Mark,

Personality profile screening before or during interview have become order of the day even here in India. With 200 applications coming for one position, ( Thats the ratio and we are looking at filling 1500 positions over one year ) there is no better way to eliminate candidates than this.

I came across this website which conducts personality tests called "OCEAN" The tests are free.

Was wondering how this compares to "DiSC" profile. Is this very different from that. I understand there may be many similar tests that may be out there so do an comparison is not practical.

Bangalore, India.

Mark- Can you recommend a


Can you recommend a pre-employment test for those people on the other side of the interviewing fence? Use DiSC, or something else?



Came across this website for testing

Came across this website for testing profile. (OCEAN) Open to New Experiences, Conscientious, Extroverted, Agreeable, Nervous / High-Strung

Is this similar pattern to DiSC. I know there are many similar personality profile websites.

Looking for comments.
Bangalore, India.

Mike and Mark, I tried posting comment

Mike and Mark,
I tried posting comment with a Hyperlink-URL in it.(tried couple of times) Seems it doesn't go through and disappears. Is there a restriction to post comments with Hyper link?. Just wondering.

The following is a statistical analysis

The following is a statistical analysis of employment outcomes based on the methods used to choose employees. The higher the co-efficent the better. eg a perfect method would have a co-efficient of 1. I do have the journal reference to go with this if anyone is interested.

Work sample tests (0.54 corrected)
General mental ability (0.53 corrected)
Assessment centres - performance criteria (0.41)
Biodata (0.37 corrected)
Structured interviews (0.35)
Personality tests (0.33)
Trainability tests - performance criteria (0.24)
Unstructured individual interviews (0.11)
References (0.11)
Astrology (0.0)
Graphology (0.0)
Chance prediction (0.0)

Structured interview do pretty well, but you can see why pre-employment testing is useful, especially compared to unstructured individual interviews.

Karthik, It is likely (and this is


It is likely (and this is indeed what happened to you) that the post will be marked as potential spam and put into a moderation queue. I routinely review and clear these out every other day.

By the way, I deleted the second of your two posts, which was obviously posted because you couldn't see the first.

Sorry for the confusion!


Mike, Thanks, Thats what I guessed

Thanks, Thats what I guessed because of the Hyper link. Thanks for the clarification. New learning.


tomas I would like to see the


I would like to see the journal reference. My high 'C" personality desires more data. :-)

tlhausmann, The reference comes from


The reference comes from a fairly academic journal article.The reference is:-

Eran Hermelin, Ivan T Robertson. (2001). A critique and standardization of meta-analytic validity coefficients in personnel selection. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology,3 74, 253-277. Retrieved August 30, 2007, from ABI/INFORM Global database. (Document ID: 84480082).

If you have access to ProQuest or a similar database through your local library you can look it up with the document ID. Online databases like ProQuest are great for finding peer reviewed academic articles to back an argument up with some properly researched facts.

Thank you

Thank you tomas!

Just listened to this Podcast

Okay, so I just now listened to this podcast and would like your opinion of pre-employment testing for engineers. I have never heard of personality tests for any of the engineering fields (maybe engineers are robots) but there are hard subject tests, like the tests one takes in college, or specific tests on area of discipline.

My questions are: is it rude to ask a potential job if they are going to administer an area of expertise test, and also to prepare and study for this test?
Is it inexcusable to tell the potential company that you do not currently have time to take the test if you are given a surprise test? (Having done the first question and receiving a negative answer).