A Brief Guide to Pre-employment Assessments

Pre-employment Assessments

Legions of freshers and experienced candidates are applying for jobs every day. Pre-employment tests help you screen them and fill open positions with the right talent quickly. But with so many pre-employment tests around, how do you decide which one to go with? Here are some tips and tools for conducting pre-employment tests.

What Are Pre-employment Tests?

Pre-employment tests refer to different types of assessments used by recruiters to determine a candidate’s fitness for a job. They consist of standardized tests, questionnaires, etc., to assess the knowledge, skills, and job-related personality attributes of candidates. The main principle is to make accurate, objective, and bias-free hiring decisions. The same rating system is used to assess candidates for a job and selection is made based on who made it to the top.  

Types of Pre-employment Tests

Programming Tests

Web and mobile developers, data scientists, data engineers, IT admin—for these job roles, programming skill is a core requirement though proficiency levels and programming languages may vary based on the project or job role. These tests require the candidate to write code for a given problem and evaluate the code using predefined test cases. Different levels of programming tests are conducted depending on the job requirements and they may be combined with other evaluation methods to make a hiring decision.

Cognitive Ability Tests

For roles that involve complex decision-making, cognitive ability tests are a must. These tests measure a candidate’s logical reasoning, problem-solving, numerical ability, verbal reasoning, and spatial recognition skills. Agile learning tests assess how well junior employees grasp the concepts and skills required for the job. In the case of senior employees, these cognitive tests help determine how good they are at making decisions in a fast-paced work environment.

Language Tests

Communication skills are indispensable for many jobs, especially in marketing, sales, hospitality, and customer service. But with global clients and culturally diverse staff, these skills have become important across departments and disciplines. In language screening tests, a candidate’s vocabulary, grammar, spelling, and comprehension skills are evaluated. Candidates may be required to write an essay, correct grammatical errors in sentences, fill in sentences with correct prepositions, fix spelling mistakes, etc.  

Psychometric Tests

Psychometric tests started as personality tests, but they have evolved to include aptitude and cognitive tests that help assess a wide range of abilities. Whether a candidate is a good fit for the company as well as the role is best assessed using psychometric tests. Psychometric tests also give an idea about the candidate’s aspirations and plans for the future which helps companies ascertain if they want to invest in the candidate. Psychometric tests can consist of normative, ipsative, or trick questions to evaluate a candidate’s personality. 

Role-Specific Tests

No two roles are the same and so no two job roles can have the same screening methodology. For example, the language proficiency of a client-facing role such as a project manager is different from that of a web developer. A design engineer has to be evaluated for their spatial recognition skills while a law firm candidate has to be evaluated for their decision-making skills. Role-specific tests are useful for measuring such specialized skills and competencies. 

Software Skills Test

Most organizations cannot afford to hire people and have them learn a particular tool or software on the job. They prefer candidates with prior experience. For example, email marketing roles require proficiency in Salesforce or Mailchimp while accounting job roles require competency in Tally or QuickBooks. A mock task using software or MCQ tests can be used to evaluate the candidate’s skills.

How To Conduct Pre-Employment Tests

Given below are a few important points to keep in mind while creating pre-employment tests.

Identify the Job Requirements 

You need a detailed job description before you design a test. The job description can be used to map out the competencies required to do that job well. Finally, you can shortlist the skills or competencies that have to be evaluated for the role.

Select Test Types

Once you have the competency framework ready, you can pick the appropriate pre-employment tests for evaluating candidates. When a candidate completes a pre-employment test, you should be able to get a holistic view of the candidate.

Set the Difficulty Level

After shortlisting the skills and finalizing the test methods, you have to decide the difficulty level of the tests. You shouldn’t lose promising candidates by setting a higher proficiency level for a rarely used skill or make poor hires by setting the difficulty level too low.  

Design the Test

A mix of different question types will help you have a holistic assessment of the candidate and identify some of their strong and weak points. The questions can be in the form of true/false statements, MCQs, or essays.

Set a Benchmark

After creating the assessment, set a benchmark for selection. The benchmark should be reasonable and attainable. Hiring candidates based on a set benchmark ensures the selected candidates meet the required quality, in turn providing you with a competent team. 

Choose a Candidate Assessment Tool

Go for an online pre-employment assessment tool; it will save you time and labor. Once candidates register for an exam, emails can be triggered with the assessment link and other details. The entire process from registration to recruitment can be streamlined using online assessment tools for recruitment. 

How to Select a Pre-Employment Assessment Tool

While there are many tools available for conducting pre-employment tests, it is important to choose one that aligns with your hiring needs. The tool should be simple enough to lessen the administrative burden and flexible enough to accommodate changes as and when required. 

A few points to consider when selecting a tool are:


The online assessment tool should have easy and quick customizations for different questions and assessment types. Such versatility is essential for companies that hire for different disciplines and departments and diverse roles within each department. A single solution that can serve all of a company’s screening and hiring requirements is more cost-effective than using a gaggle of different tools and platforms.


Remote assessments being the new normal, proctoring is a must-have feature. Though remote hiring simplifies and expedites the screening process for both the organization as well as the candidate, malpractices such as impersonation and cheating are disadvantages that come with it. To overcome this obstacle, ensure that you select a tool that provides proctoring to the candidate during the assessment.


Once recruiters familiarize themselves with an assessment tool, their life gets easier, but candidates may need support if they are new to the tool and run into a snag. This support becomes critical when an assessment is in progress. Therefore it is ideal that the tool has a candidate support feature in the form of live chat or call. You don’t want to lose out on good candidates due to a glitch or their inability to resolve a technical issue by themselves.

Ease of Use

Pre-employment tools are meant to simplify the process of selection and reduce the administrative burden on the organization. If the tool is too complex, then it beats the very purpose. Customizable settings, simple point-and-click and drag-and-drop interfaces, etc. can smoothen adoption and implementation. Another important factor you cannot overlook is performance under different workloads. If you have mass recruitment, make sure the tool can easily scale to meet the demand.

Question Bank

You may not always have the time to set questions or have an SME create appropriate questions for each test. Assessment tools that come with a question bank are a great help in those cases. You can either copy these questions or modify them for the job role you are hiring for.


A Glassdoor Economic Research Report on why hiring is taking longer than before concludes that the screening method has a significant impact on the time taken to hire a candidate. Pre-employment tests guarantee a bias-free, objective, and fast recruitment method. These tests have proven themselves to be beneficial in the hiring process.