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4 benefits of pre-employment skill testing

Recruiting teams and hiring managers have all sorts of methods they use to find the right candidate for a job. Traditionally, these methods center on resumes, cover letters, interviews, and reference checks. In other words—what candidates say about themselves, and what (carefully selected) others say about them.

Innovative recruiting and talent acquisition leaders are starting to recognize the limitations of these approaches and use new methods to find top talent. One of these groundbreaking methods is pre-employment skill testing

Technical recruiting teams at FinTech startup Robinhood use a pre-employment test to send out standardized coding assessments that are automatically scored, freeing up valuable time and resources for Robinhood’s engineering team and allowing them to review more candidates in less time. 

This not only gives recruiters an objective snapshot of a candidate’s technical skills, but it also replaces manual resume reviews as a top-of-funnel screening tool and helps recruiters make faster, data-driven decisions with less bias.

This article will cover the following topics:

What is Skill Testing?

Pre-employment skill testing includes any type of test that employers ask candidates to complete as part of their application process. Skill assessment can include:

  • Personality tests for assessing soft skills
  • Cognitive ability tests, for skills like numerical or logical reasoning
  • Technical skill tests, for coding/programming or other technical skills
  • Other hard skill tests, like typing speed or spelling and grammar proficiency 

Skill assessments can be used to validate what candidates say about their experience and skills on their resume—or as a replacement for resume review altogether.

Why is Pre-Employment Skill Testing Important?

Resumes serve as a poor proxy for candidates’ job-relevant skills. While a resume may show what previous positions a candidate has held and where, it fails to show how skilled a candidate is in a given area or how they problem-solve.

Traditional interviews allow recruiters and hiring teams to dig deeper into a candidate’s skills and background, but they present their own set of pitfalls:

  • Potential for bias: Interviewers consistently rank candidates higher if they have personal interests in common, for example.
  • Time-suck for hiring teams: Highly-skilled employees (like engineers) can waste hundreds of hours interviewing unqualified candidates.
  • Telling, not showing: Most interviews require candidates to tell interviewers about the skills on their resume—not to actually demonstrate those skills.

The purpose of pre-employment skill tests is to provide recruiting and hiring teams valuable, objective data they can’t get through resumes or traditional interviews alone. Skill tests are used in the recruitment process to show what a candidate can do and what they know—crucial for finding the right hire.

Skill assessments also provide a positive candidate experience by allowing candidates who may otherwise be overlooked due to their resume to prove their skills and knowledge.

The Main Benefits of Pre-Employment Skill Testing

Reducing bias in hiring

Unconscious biases are pervasive in interviews—so much so that researchers have identified a variety of biases common in hiring interviews:

  • Stereotyping: Where an interviewer forms an opinion about a candidate based on assumptions about characteristics not relevant to the job, like their age or gender.
  • Halo or pitchfork effect: The “halo effect” is where an interview hyper-focuses on one positive characteristic about a candidate, like the prestige of where they went to college. The “pitchfork effect” is where the interview hones in on one negative characteristic, like a candidate’s nervousness.
  • Similarity/affinity bias: Where the interviewer has a more favorable evaluation of candidates they believe to be “like them.”

In contrast, well-designed pre-employment skill tests reduce bias in the recruitment process by providing recruiting and hiring teams objective information on candidates’ job-relevant skills.

Saving time for recruiters

Pre-employment skill tests save time for recruiting teams regardless of where they are used in the recruiting process or funnel. When used as a replacement for resume review at the top of the funnel, they save recruiters countless hours scrutinizing applicant resumes.

When used later in the recruiting process, skill assessments for hiring provide a faster, automated alternative to scheduling interviews with hiring teams.

When employers use pre-employment skill tests, they hire candidates based on objective information about their job-relevant skills. This provides employers a greater degree of legal defensibility in the case of legal challenges, so long as their pre-employment assessments are job-relevant.

Improving quality of hire

Lastly, pre-employment assessments improve the quality of hire by allowing recruiters to hone in on the best candidates early in the recruiting process. This is because skill tests are designed to assess job-relevant skills and knowledge—which humans often fail to do when reviewing a resume or talking with a candidate in an interview.

Recruiting teams that optimize for quality of hire save their companies thousands of dollars. Each bad hire can cost a company up to $15,000 per year, making it business-critical to find the right candidate the first time.

Learn more

Want to learn more about pre-employment skill testing for technical hires? Schedule time to chat with one of the experts at CodeSignal and see how our pre-employment assessment solutions can help you reach your goals.

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