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Employee Assessment Tests: How Do They Work?

Alice Watts
Alice Watts April 16, 2021
Employee Assessment Tests

Employee assessment tests, or pre-employment assessments, are standardised tests which assess the skills of prospective employees. They range from more general psychometric testing, such as verbal, numerical, logical, and diagrammatic reasoning, to tailored situational judgement assessments and personality tests.

Employee assessment testing is an effective method of streamlining your prospective talent pool and can be used to ensure you make the best hiring decisions. Whilst much can be gleaned from early-stage interviews, pre-employment assessments provide clear data to evidence informed decisions and are much quicker to administer.

When used as part of a varied and comprehensive hiring process, employee assessment tests help to shed invaluable light upon employee strengths and provide future performance indicators.

Indeed, most employers now use at least one form of standardised pre-employment test in their recruitment process, and many rely upon a mixture of assessments to effectively test candidate aptitude, suitability and fit.

What is an Employee Assessment Test?

An employee assessment test is an aptitude or psychometric test that is taken by candidates during the recruitment process. These tests may be taken after the initial application stage or as part of a later stage assessment centre, alongside group exercises, presentations and interviews.

Most employee assessment tests require no previous knowledge from candidates and focus upon testing cognitive ability and mental agility in a variety of contexts. They tend to be multiple-choice and are conducted under timed conditions, to assess how well a candidate performs under pressure.

Scoring well in the assessments requires calm, accurate working, at pace.

There are many different types of pre-employment tests available and multiple test publishers. The style, format and content of the assessments will vary according to the selected publisher.

The type of pre-employment tests you choose will depend upon your sector and the type of role you most commonly recruit for. Employers can tailor their employee assessment sequence depending upon department or service area. Employers within technical industries may wish to additionally test mechanical, electrical or financial reasoning.

Some employee assessment test publishers provide tailored situational judgement tests or personality questionnaires for employers, so that they can test candidates for alignment with their organisation’s core values and fit within their company culture.

How do Employee Assessment Tests Work?

Employee assessment tests work by presenting all candidates with the same questions, in the same format, to complete within a given time frame. Once the candidates have taken the tests - whether online or at an assessment centre - candidate scores can be compiled, analysed and compared to highlight the strongest candidates in each area.

This data can then be used to make strategic and informed decisions about continuation in the recruitment process.

These days, employee assessment tests are commonly administered online, often through a testing portal or pre-employment assessment platform.

Candidates being assessed are sent a link to login and complete the assessments. Once started, they must be completed in one sitting and cannot be retaken. Some tests have specific time limits for each question or section, whereas others expect candidates to set their own pace.

Note that some organisations decide to require candidates to re-sit early-stage psychometric assessments taken at home if they progress to the assessment centre stage. This is to double-check the scores and ensure no additional help was enlisted to obtain the original result.

Some tests employ negative marking – meaning that points are deducted for incorrect answers – but most do not.

Features such as negative marking, shorter time limits and greater question volume increase the difficulty level of pre-employment tests. The difficulty of the questions also differs according to the publisher selected. It is important to select the right level of testing for your needs.

It is also important tests are pitched correctly to maintain candidate satisfaction. Your recruitment process is, after all, a direct reflection upon your company brand.

Examples of the Best Employment Assessments Tests

The most commonly used pre-employment assessments are cognitive ability tests, situational judgment assessments and personality and cultural fit tests. These are often used in combination, in order to gain a full picture of each candidate’s strengths and skills.

best employment assessment tests

Personality and Culture Fit

Personality tests, or cultural fit tests, are used to assess the personality, character and behavioural traits of prospective employees. They consist of a series of statements which candidates are asked to rank, according to their strength of agreement.

These tests result in the production of a personality profile, which provides a useful indication of a candidate’s approach to work and level of professionalism.

They are used to determine whether a candidate shares the ethics and behavioural values that guide the organisation. This type of test is not usually timed.

Cognitive Ability

Cognitive ability tests seek to assess the mental aptitude and agility of candidates.

The most common forms of cognitive ability tests are verbal reasoning, which assesses written comprehension and interpretation; numerical reasoning, which tests the ability to work with numbers and analyse data; and diagrammatic reasoning, which assesses capacity to analyse shapes and patterns and rapidly deduce governing rules.

These tests assess the ability to process information under pressure and highlight the skills strengths of candidates.

Situational Judgement

Situational judgement assessments present prospective employees with a number of theoretical scenarios, mirroring those encountered within the workplace. They require candidates to indicate how they would respond to the situations, usually by selecting a course of action (or ranking options) from a multiple-choice list.

Situational judgement assessments help to determine whether a candidate aligns with a company’s expected behaviours and values.

Using Employment Assessment Tests for Hiring Talent

Using a carefully selected series of pre-employment tests within your recruitment process is likely to increase both its efficiency and effectiveness. Employment assessment tests are trusted indicators of future job performance, helping to ensure every chosen candidate is an excellent match for your open role.

Personality, culture fit and situational judgement tests help to make sure the person selected exhibits behaviours and values aligned with your company and can thrive within your workplace. Using these tests to hire talent helps to ensure both employee and employer satisfaction, leading to the long-term retention of well-matched employees.

Alice Watts
Alice Watts April 16, 2021

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