Getting the right person for the right job is the goal of most recruiters. But it's not easy.
Hiring the candidate who seems to have all the "right" answers may not be best, especially if you don't ask the right questions in the first place (read Hiring People: Questions to Ask Add to My Personal Learning Plan). Choosing the candidate with the best reference isn't a guarantee either – what if the person giving the reference will say anything just to be nice? And hiring someone because you "feel good" about them is probably as reliable as buying a used car after kicking the tires.
To recruit effectively, it's best to take the guesswork out of the process. The more reliable information you can gather about a person, the better. You want as complete a picture as possible of the candidate's skills, experience, competencies, personality, and aptitudes.
Given the costs, the pain and the lost opportunity that comes from a poor hiring decision, would you like to remove as much guesswork as possible when you hire? One method that companies use to do this is pre-employment testing. These tests are designed to give you reliable and valid information about a candidate – information that a résumé, interview, and reference may not provide.
Recruitment tests are not a substitute for other traditional assessment tools, but they can add to and improve hiring practices. When you combine information from these tests with properly thought-through structured interviews, you add considerable predictive power to your selection process.
Why Use Tests in Recruitment?
The most common reasons for introducing pre-employment testing into the candidate selection process include:
Current selection or placement procedures result in poor hiring decisions.
Staff errors have had serious financial, health, or safety consequences.
Staff turnover or absenteeism is high.
Current candidate assessment procedures don't meet legal and professional standards.
In essence, managers use these tests to address rigorously the most significant situations where recruitment has failed in the past, or the highest risk areas where it could fail in the future.
However, as with all business activities, use of tests takes time and has a cost, so they should only be used where the benefits gained more than compensate for these costs.
Types of Test
The key to using the right test – and making best use of everyone's time and resources – is to know what problems you're trying to address with the test. Here are some common types of test, and the typical reasons for using them.
Ability and Aptitude Tests
These are used to predict success across a wide variety of occupations, typically in people who have not yet received much training in the skills needed for that occupation. In essence, what you're trying to do is identify "natural talent" for the work, which you can then develop.
Mental ability tests generally measure a person's ability to learn and perform particular job responsibilities; they focus on things such as verbal, quantitative, and spatial abilities.
Physical ability tests usually cover things such as strength, endurance, and flexibility.
When you use ability and aptitude testing, it's important to consider potential discrimination factors – such as language, race, culture, and age.
Specific examples of ability and aptitude tests are as follows:
General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB): Used to assess verbal, numerical, and spatial aptitude as well as provide a basic reference for general intelligence.
Differential Aptitude Test (DAT): Used for assessing aptitudes in eight specific areas (as opposed to the general areas of the GATB): Verbal Reasoning, Numerical Ability, Abstract Reasoning, Mechanical Reasoning, Space Relations, Spelling, Language Usage, and Perceptual Speed and Accuracy.
Personnel Test for Industry (PTI): Used to test basic verbal and numerical competence, and typically used for placement in industries such as transportation, manufacturing and mechanics.https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMM_61.htm