A pre-employment assessment is a questionnaire that candidates complete as part of the job application process. The use of a valid and reliable assessments is an effective way to determine which applicants are the most qualified for a specific job based on their strengths and preferences. Employers typically use the assessment results to determine how well each candidate's strengths and preferences match the job requirements.
During World War I, intelligence tests were performed on Army recruits. Depending on the score, recruits were either placed in Army Alpha (literate) or Army Beta (illiterate). During World War II, the Wonderlic Contemporary Cognitive Ability Test was used as a short-form cognitive abilities test. The test earned its fame by helping the Navy select candidates for pilot training and navigation. The Cardall Test of Practical Judgment was the first of its kind to measure everyday life problem-solving abilities. After World War II concerns about test-related bias emerged leading to the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. In 1971 the Supreme Court established specific guidelines for pre-employment assessments in Griggs vs. Duke Power. The ruling concluded that selection tests must be job-related and based on specific qualifications. If an adverse impact occurs, such as test results purposefully score protected groups lower, the company must prove the test is job-related.
Pre-employment assessments USA tools have evolved from paper and pencil formats to present-day online administration. The digital transformation has put these powerful tools in the hands of hiring managers who currently use them in their talent selection process.
Pre-Employment Assessments USA evaluate factors that accurately predict a candidate's future job performance. Then, using algorithms, the assessment results can be analyzed to predict how successful a candidate is likely to be in a particular job. The best assessments evaluate both cognitive ability and personality factors.
Cognitive ability measures learning ability, learning speed or general mental ability. They measure the ability to learn and apply knowledge to work. Cognitive ability is a consistent and nearly universal predictor of future job performance. But cognitive ability is not enough by itself. Some technical geniuses, for example, can't work with managers, peers, or end users. Some gifted employees cannot deliver projects on time. Personality factors help explain why some employees perform poorly, even when they possess good technical skills.
Personality is the individual’s pattern of behavioral characteristics. Its effects on work success have been studied for more than 85 years. Because personality is relatively consistent over time, using a valid pre-employment assessment helps managers learn how candidates are likely to behave when they are at work.
The use of scientific selection tools like cognitive ability assessments or personality assessments does not reduce compliance with fair employment practices or put a company at higher legal risk. Instead, legal compliance is actually enhanced, not degraded. The U.S. Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (1978) helps organizations assure a consistent approach to selection decisions. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) offers guidance about using tests in the selection and promotion process. The basic reference is the Uniform Guidelines On Employee Selection Procedures.
Validated pre-employment assessments are designed to give managers data that are more reliable and more accurate than the self-reported information from resumes and interviews. Managers who use tests early in the selection process can spend their limited time focusing on the job candidates who are the most promising and most likely to be good performers.
Employers need to ensure that their pre-employment assessments are properly validated for the positions and purposes for which they are used. The assessment or selection procedure must be job-related and its results appropriate for the employer's purpose. The employer is still responsible for ensuring that its assessments are valid under the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures.