Pre-Employment Testing: The Ultimate Guide

Behind the success of any company are the employees who work there. After all, they are responsible for keeping things running smoothly and ensuring customer satisfaction. But how do you know if someone will be a good fit for your company? How can you tell if they have the skills and personality traits that will make them successful in the role you're hiring for? 

This is where pre-employment testing comes in. Before making a job offer, it's important to put candidates through a series of tests to help you assess their abilities and compatibility with your company. 

This article will delve into the world of pre-employment testing. We will cover the following topics to help you understand everything you need to know about this type of testing: 

  • What is Pre-Employment testing? 
  • Why do employers use Pre-Employment tests? 
  • Types of Pre-Employment tests 
  • What to expect of a Pre-Employment test 

If you are an employer who is considering using pre-employment testing in your hiring process, or you are a candidate who wants to know what to expect, then this guide is for you. 

pre employment testing

What Is Pre-Employment Testing?

Pre-employment testing is the process of using tests to screen job candidates during the recruitment process. Employers often use pre-employment tests to assess a candidate's skills, abilities, knowledge, and other characteristics, which they then use to determine whether the candidate is qualified for a specific job. 

When used correctly, pre-employment testing can help employers save time and money by narrowing down the pool of job candidates to those most likely to succeed in a particular job. 

For example, suppose an employer is looking to fill a customer service position. In that case, they might give candidates a customer service aptitude test to help identify those best suited for the job without having to interview every candidate. 

Is Pre-Employment Testing Legal?

The simple answer is yes, pre-employment testing is legal. Employers have the right to test applicants for job-related skills and abilities. However, like all things related to employment, Pre-Employment testing is subject to several laws and regulations. 

The most important law governing pre-employment testing is the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 permits employment tests as long as they are not "designed, intended or used to discriminate because of race, color, religion, sex or national origin."1

To ensure that pre-employment testing does not unlawfully discriminate against any protected group, employers must ensure that their tests are job-related and consistent with business necessity. 

timed test

Pre-Employment Testing vs. Assessment 

Pre-Employment testing and assessment are two different types of tools that employers use to screen potential candidates. 

Pre-Employment tests typically consist of questions that measure a candidate's expertise in a specific skill or area. On the other hand, an assessment is a more comprehensive evaluation that may include testing, but also includes tools like personality inventories and interviews. 

Also, pre-employment tests aim to identify the best-qualified candidates, while an assessment aims to get a more complete picture of the candidate and their potential fit for the job. 

And while Pre-Employment tests and assessments serve different purposes, they are often used in conjunction with each other to get a well-rounded picture of a candidate. 

Why Do Employers Use Pre-Employment Tests? 

Getting the right candidate for a job is essential for any business. After all, hiring the wrong person can be costly in terms of time and money. 

Employers use pre-employment tests for the following reasons: 

To Make High-Quality Interviews 

Employers can use the data gathered from pre-employment tests to guide their interviews. By focusing on the areas that the test identified as important, employers can ask better, more targeted questions in the interview to better understand the candidate and whether they are a good fit for the job. 

To Make The Hiring Process Easier 

Pre-Employment tests can help streamline the hiring process by sifting out candidates who are not a good fit for the job before they get to the interview stage, especially when there are many applicants. This saves time and resources that can be better spent interviewing candidates more likely to succeed in a specific role. 

To Test The Applicant's Skills 

One of the main reasons employers use pre-employment tests is to test an applicant's specific skills and abilities. This allows employers to better understand whether the applicant has the necessary skills to succeed in the role. 

In turn, this helps reduce the organization's turnover rate, as candidates are more likely to succeed in a role that matches their skill set. 

application skills

Why Is Pre-Employment Testing Important? 

Pre-Employment testing is important for several reasons. Below are three key reasons why pre-employment testing can be useful for employers.

Increases Defensibility In The Hiring Process 

The hiring process can be fraught with legal challenges. By using pre-employment testing, you can increase your organization's chances of success if you are ever faced with a legal challenge. 

For example, suppose you are ever accused of discrimination in the hiring process. Pre-employment testing can help prove that you hired the best candidate for the job based on their qualifications and not on any protected characteristics. 

Improves The Quality Of Your Hires 

If you want to improve the quality of your hires, pre-employment testing can help. By testing candidates on their skills and abilities, you can ensure that you are hiring the best possible candidate for the job. 

In addition, pre-employment testing can help to identify any potential red flags that could indicate that a candidate is not the right fit for the job. 

High-quality hires can help boost your organization's productivity and improve the bottom line.

Helps To Ensure A Fair Hiring Process 

Pre-Employment testing can help to level the playing field for all candidates. By using the same testing process for all candidates, you can ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed. 

In addition, pre-employment testing can help identify any unconscious bias you may have in the hiring process. Not only can this help improve your organization's reputation, but can also help attract top talent.

testing percentage

Types Of Pre-Employment Tests

There are a variety of different Pre-Employment tests that employers can use. The type of test you use will depend on the job you are hiring for. Below are some of the most common types of pre-employment tests: 

Job Knowledge Tests 

Employers use job knowledge tests to measure a candidate's technical knowledge or understanding of a specific job. For example, a pilot may be given a written test that covers the principles of flight to measure their job knowledge. 

However, one important aspect to keep in mind is that job knowledge tests only measure what a candidate knows, not whether or not they can actually do the job. This can limit the chance of getting a candidate who is truly the best fit for the job. 

Skills Assessment Tests 

Skills assessment tests are designed to measure a candidate's ability to perform the tasks required by the job. They test for either soft skills (such as customer service) or hard skills (such as using a particular software program). Unlike job knowledge tests, skills assessment tests can give employers a more accurate picture of whether a candidate can do the job. 

For example, a candidate for a customer service job may be asked to take a call and deal with a difficult customer. This would give the employer a good idea of the candidate's ability to handle the job. 

Physical Ability Tests 

Physical ability tests are used to measure the strength and stamina of a candidate. They reveal if a candidate can perform the physical tasks required by the job. For example, a construction worker may be asked to lift a certain weight or climb a ladder. 

This test is very important as it can help reduce the risk of workplace injury and worker's compensation claims. 

Integrity Tests 

Integrity tests are the most important type of pre-employment test. They are designed to measure a candidate's honesty and character. This is important as it can help identify candidates who may steal from the company or be dishonest with customers. 

Integrity tests can also help identify candidates who are likely to have attendance problems or be disruptive at work. 

Cognitive Ability Tests 

Cognitive ability tests are designed to measure a candidate's ability to learn, remember, and solve problems. They can be very helpful in predicting a candidate's job performance. 

For example, a candidate who scores well on a cognitive ability test is likely to be able to learn the tasks required for the job quickly and be able to solve problems that come up on the job. 

The most common cognitive ability test is the General Aptitude Test (GAT). This test measures a candidate's ability to use verbal, logical, and numerical reasoning to solve problems. 

Emotional Intelligence Tests 

Emotional intelligence tests are designed to measure candidates' relationship-building skills and ability to understand and control their emotions. This is important as it can help identify candidates who are likely to be successful in working with others and managing their emotions on the job. 

Personality Tests 

Another important type of pre-employment test is the personality test. Personality tests are designed to measure a candidate's suitability for the job. They can be very helpful in identifying candidates who are likely to be successful in the job based on their personality type. 

For example, a candidate for a sales job who scores high on a personality test for extroversion is likely to be successful in the job. 

Common pre-employment tests that measure personality traits include the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), DiSC Behavioral Inventory, and the Big Five personality test. 

types of psychometric tests

What To Expect Of A Pre-Employment Test 

There are several things that organizations should expect as a result of administering pre-employment tests. 

First, pre-employment tests can help identify candidates who are likely to be successful in the job. This can save the organization time and money by helping to reduce turnover and improve the quality of hires. 

Second, pre-employment tests can help identify candidates who may have attendance problems or be disruptive at work. This can help the organization avoid potential legal problems. 

Finally, pre-employment tests can help improve productivity by helping to ensure that employees are matched to jobs they are best suited for. 

However, it is important to note that pre-employment tests are just one tool that organizations can use to make hiring decisions. They should not be used as the sole basis for making hiring decisions. 

Determining What Pre-Employment Tests Are Needed 

The first step in determining what pre-employment tests are needed is to identify the job duties and skills required for the job. Here, it's important to conduct a Job Requirements Analysis (JRA) to determine what the job entails and what skills are needed to perform it. 

Once you identify the knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics (KSAOs) that are needed for the job, you can begin to identify which Pre-Employment tests will best predict success in those areas. 

Always investigate and choose the tests that make the most sense for the specific job positions. 

Final Thoughts

Pre-Employment testing can be a valuable tool for organizations. When used correctly, it can help improve the quality of hires, reduce turnover, and increase productivity. 

However, it's important to remember that pre-employment tests are just one tool that should be used in the hiring process. Organizations should also use other methods, such as interviews and reference checks, to ensure they hire the best candidates. 

With these tips in mind, you can ensure that your organization is using pre-employment testing in the most effective way possible.

If you are looking to get started with pre-employment testing, Opusuna can help. We have vast experience administering and interpreting a variety of pre-employment tests. 

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you find the best candidates for your organization! 


  1. Issuing Authority This technical assistance document was issued upon approval of the Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission., & This technical assistance document was issued upon approval of the Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (n.d.). Employment tests and selection procedures. US EEOC. Retrieved November 11, 2022, from