Like many fears, the FEAR that hiring managers have about using pre-employment tests is nothing more than False Experiences Appearing Real. In this column I respond to the top 10 fears I consistently hear from HR managers, executives and business owners. A few of the fears are real. Some are merely exaggerations. And others – they are simply not true. Beginning with number 10:
10. We don’t have a budget for testing. Fortunately the ROI on pre-employment tests is many-fold when you consider the cost of a bad hire, estimated to be 1 to 2 times annual salary for lower-wage employees and upwards of 10 times annual salary for managers, professionals and executive. In low-wage, high turnover industries like hospitality, studies indicate it costs roughly 300 to 700 times an hourly worker’s rate each time you have to fire and replace them when you take the effect of a bad hire on a guest’s first experience. Ranging in costs from as little as $25 for screening tools to several hundred for job fit assessments, the cost of the pre-employment tests will be a fraction of the cost spent on trying to save a bad hire. Pre-employment tests are an investment in productivity and innovation, not an HR line item.
9. I read my report and don’t agree with what it says about me. Face validity is very important. That means when you read the report it describes your to a “t.” But face validity isn’t a very good predictor of job fit. If it was every candidate who says he’d be a great fit would become your next super-performer. Tools like DISC and Myers-Briggs have very strong face validity but other psychometric tools that are normed against the population and used for job fit and potential are more sophisticated. Selection tests measure innate personality traits, or your core personality. With experience and training, you may have learned new skills that cover up potential shortcomings. That’s why it is very important to use both the pre-employment test and interview to discover the natural fit, learned fit, and potential for growth. If you don’t agree with a result, just ask your consultant for an interpretation. I can count on one hand how many times a candidate or employee doesn’t agree after they understand how to use the results properly.
8. We’re just a small business. We’re not sure why many managers feel they shouldn’t have the same tools at their fingertips as large companies. Online technology has leveled the playing field. Now small business owners as well as mid-managers have the same tools as senior level executives at Fortune 50 companies. And the best news is that technology has lowered the cost to a level affordable to any size business in any industry.
7. We don’t have the time to get certified. Online hiring assessments make this an easy one to overcome. Certifications and training are not required for most programs. Our reports are written so that even the most inexperienced manager can understand the results. And to make the report even more manager-friendly, all our pre-employment tests come with personalized behavior interview question guides based on responses given by the candidates. We can’t make it any easier. (Of course, for any managers wanting to become more skilled at reading the reports, we are always happy to oblige – and many managers take us up on the offer!)
6. It takes too long to get the results. This is the easiest fear to overcome. Results can be real-time. We can set up a client account at no cost to the business, many times at no charge. Reports can then be accessed in real time. In other words, as soon as a candidate hits the submit button, a manager can log into the system and retrieve the report. Unlike many of our competitors who require a 2 or 3 day (or more) delay in receiving results and then even longer to speak with a consultant, we are available when you need us the most. In today’s job market, when you have the good candidate waiting for a job offer, you can ill afford any delays.
5. We don’t want to upset the candidates. Our clients gave us the answer to this fear. “If a candidate balks at completing our hiring process and this is the time when he is supposed to be on his best behavior, what will happen the first time we ask him to do something he doesn’t think is part of his job?” It’s important to look at the assessment as equal to the interview and background checks. That’s how the EEOC looks at pre-employment testing. Resumes, application, interviews and even general observations are all on equal footing. If a candidate refused to submit his resume or give permission to check references, you certainly wouldn’t forego these steps. The pre-employment test is just another part of the employee selection process. So what more can I add except that when a candidate refuses to complete an assessment, it won’t cost you a dime for the assessment but think about the thousands of dollars and hours of aggravation you’ll save if you had hired him!
4. We heard candidates can fake the tests. Again, this fear is real – and true. Just like during the interview, people are more and more skilled at playing a role that can’t be delivered after they are hired. The advantage of our pre-employment tests is that each assessment has a “fake-ability” scale. Questions embedded in the assessments help managers assess how reliable the information is and if the candidate attempted to manipulate his responses. Unless you are a highly skilled interviewer, gut instinct is the only tool you have to determine if a candidate is the real thing.
3. We spoke with our attorney and he said stay away from testing. Another variation of this fear is: I heard that companies have gotten sued because a test was used. It is true that organizations that have used tests have been sued. But it’s also true that more businesses have been sued because they didn’t. Every hiring decision carries a risk. But you need to know the facts. The EEOC in 2007 heard 77,000 discrimination complaints. Of those 77,000 only 304 involved assessments. And of those 304 the decisions that ruled in favor of the employee were related to the improper use of the assessment, not the validity of the assessment itself. As long as the test is valid, reliable, non-discriminatory AND job-related, the use of pre-employment tests is a best practice that meets EEOC guidelines. If your attorney can’t substantiate why he/she believes pre-employment tests should be avoided with anything more than it’s his/her opinion, get a second opinion. We will be happy to refer you to employment law attorneys who support the use of employee testing as a best practice and view the decision to use testing as good business practice.
2. We can’t afford to turn away good candidates. The time is long-gone when you can afford to hire employees who can barely fog a mirror. For the same reason you wouldn’t accept an order from a vendor with the wrong parts, why would you hire an employee that doesn’t have the right skills or fit in your culture? But the big benefit for using assessments is that organizations actually expand their talent pool. Yes, you read that correctly. You can expand, not shrink, your talent pool with assessments. How is that possible? For the very same reason that managers make hiring mistakes based on the interview alone, they also miss high-potential candidates because they might interview poorly but have all the skills and attitude you need, if not more. Pre-employment tests can help find the diamonds in the rough. You can ill-afford to turn away a gifted employee when he presents. And let’s have a drum roll please. The number one reason why managers fear pre-employment tests is:
1. We don’t have the time to test candidates. It’s true. It does take time to test candidates (but not as much as you think). The irrefutable data however confirms the time it takes to test a candidate is a drop in the bucket compared to the time you will spend training, counseling and eventually terminating the wrong hire. With online hiring assessments, most of the time invested in the process is candidate time. All a manager needs to do is send out the instructions to the candidate and process the report. That’s it. And for businesses too short-staffed to manage even the administration of these functions, we can do all the “grunt” work. All we need is a name and email – and voila! The next time you hear from us you’ll have the candidate’s completed report sitting in your inbox. The time saved using online hiring assessments will be much better used recruiting for hard-to-fill positions and retaining the employees you have.