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Have you ever had a potential employee ace the interview but fail a pre-employment test? Did the failure keep you from hiring that person?

Diane Robbins's Profile

Job Interview vs Pre-Employment Test Case Studies


(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

Yes. Hiring the inappropriate candidate is a result of not staying focused on the core job requirements and gearing the interview to uncover areas where the candidate does not meet the job requirements.

Today interviewing is all about window shopping, but its not about finding the actual right candidate. Companies complain there are not enough qualified candidates. So all of a sudden, Americans that built these same companies no longer have any skills? No, there has been a shift in interview techniques. These new techniques are focused on the Likability factor rather than on hard job skills.

Change your interview techniques to find the balance between
1. Can this person blend in the team?
2. Does this person have all the skills required?

When you ask technical questions, throw in some that have incorrect thought process or incorrect technical theory. The candidates that look puzzled or answer that would not be correct are the ones that have the experience you are looking for.

Liking someone does not mean they are right for a technical job. Contrary to most hiring theory today.

Sometimes the old ways of doing things are the best.

(Associate Editor) |

Diane, take a look at Proformative's free Career Resources Guide:


Best... Sarah

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

Well said Valerie. Some of the other comments are really reasons NOT to hire people.

While you don't want to hire someone who obviously won't fit it, but then again, what is obvious and to what standard.

For instance, I went to Lowes (a large hardware store chain) and I needed help. Along came a gentleman on a scooter who from my experience had Muscular Dystrophy. It took a little longer for him to get me the info, but it was correct and he asked/offered all the right questions.

Would the proverbial "you" hire him? He "obviously" is different.

So as Valerie stated, why not hire the best candidate technically. If you erred, then you always have options.

Chuck Boecking
Title: Open Source ERP and Business Intelligenc..
Company: Chuck Boecking
(Open Source ERP and Business Intelligence, Chuck Boecking) |

Yep - marijuana, DWI, felonies, etc...

Your responsibility is to maintain a safe and productive work environment. If the infraction compromises safety or productivity, the easy answer is to say no. Every decision you make sets a precedence. I consulted my employment lawyer in EVERY single case.

Having said the above, some of my best employees had some sort of blemish in their past. Often times the blemish helped make them who they are today (for the better). My best advise is to have a conversation about the situation; then, listen to your gut and the advise of those around you. If you are leaning toward hiring the person, create a plan that helps guarantee success for everyone.

Here is an example:
We wanted to hire a person from California. The person ate marijuana brownies the week before we extended the offer. Consequently, they failed the drug screen. In California, the act was perfectly legal; however, it violated our employment policies. After lengthy conversations, we put in place a temporary periodic drug screening program for that person to help ensure the safety and productivity of our environment. The person had a unique circumstance, and we put in plan a unique plan that all parties agreed was fair.

I hope this helps!

Topic Expert
Malak Kazan
Title: VP, Special Projects
Company: ERI Economic Research Institute
(VP, Special Projects, ERI Economic Research Institute) |

I would concur with the comments and add if there are exceptions be consistent with the exceptions, evaluate the policy and perhaps adjust/modify it. Caution that excessive exceptions that lead to a bias / discriminatory treatment toward a protected class may lead to problems down the road.

Topic Expert
Cindy Kraft
Title: CFO Coach
Company: Executive Essentials
(CFO Coach, Executive Essentials) |

Often times, pre-employment assessments are designed around fit-for-culture. The question around knowing "anybody that used their hands or fists to fight or if it was proper to know how to fight to defend yourself" is a good example.

These are not typically tests (assessments) you can game, and if you are determined NOT to be a culture fit, most likely you wouldn't fit in well or be content for very long. I've never talked with a candidate who knowingly "failed" the assessment and was ultimately hired.

Thomas Sabath
Title: Controller
LinkedIn Profile
(Controller, ) |

I have only used a pre-employment test twice, it was corporate policy. Both turned out to be major disasters. The interview is the “Fit & Finish” part of the hiring process. An individual’s qualifications should have been verified long before the interview was scheduled. There are some trades that do require testing before the interview process. However pre-employment testing of professionals is a waste of time and money. If you have to use a test to determine who a good employee will be (at the professional level) then you shouldn't be in the hiring process, maybe not even a manager. Before I started my own management firm I walked away from several companies because of their “personality” test. Contrary to what has been posted here and some popular management teachings, personalities are not defined or identifiable by a test.

Conclusion, if the individual qualifies for the position, education, certification, industry experience, longevity, etc. and they have a good personality fit with the team then Hire Them.

Daiv Simcic
Title: Accounting Manager and Integration Speci..
Company: UATP
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager and Integration Specialist , UATP) |

Test, test, test. It is really the only method to ensure that they have the technical skills to do the job. All the data points to one thing, tests are a better measure of a person's ability to succeed in a job compared to the interview. It is better to past technical skills and not interview well, then the other way around.

Chris Holtzer
Title: Senior Manager - Strategic Analysis
Company: Sargento
(Senior Manager - Strategic Analysis, Sargento) |

The biggest weakness of testing, is the test itself. Don't forget that doing well on a test (or poorly) only proves that the applicant is skilled at test taking (personality or technical testing). You can, and people do, prepare for tests. A personality test is easily "gamed" by an intelligent person that knows one is coming, especially if they have taken them before. You can Google personality tests and find out how the results are read and shape your answers accordingly.

One of the biggest misunderstandings that our society makes is that testing translates to performance. They are two entirely different skill sets. You can measure some basic knowledge and communication skills, with pre-employment tests, but don't forget, you aren't hiring the person to take tests (at least I don't) you are hiring them to do a job. The pre-employment test should just be one piece of your evaluation. Interview, references, prior performance, pre-testing...etc are all pieces of the whole. Don't let one negate the others.

Joe Schatz
Title: Director
Company: Medline
(Director, Medline) |

Simple Answer
Interview as a team with 2-3 others whose opinion you trust and do NOT always agree with you. If you have favorable consensus on someone that fails a pre-employment, hire them anyway.

Pre-employment tests
Let me start by saying I have always hated standardized tests. I don't do well on them and I feel my experience and knowledge speaks volumes compared to what you learn from me on a test. Now that I am doing the hiring, my opinion has changed.

I recommend you use them and establish minimums before people reach you to interview. Your time is too valuable to interview everyone whose resume appears to qualify for the position.

Make sure your testing shows some correlation to performance. I recommend you look at people in your company that do similar work. What is their personality profile? See if you can see any patterns with who is succeeding and who is marginal or failing. This is a starting point (likely too small of a sample size statistical purposes) and HR should be able to help with more data.

Your goal is good and not perfect. That is why you set a floor. You will weed out a few potentials but you should save significant time by not interviewing people who are less likely to fit into the role/team/company. Use this extra time to interview longer with the pool that exceeds your floor.

Don't fall in love with any of the tests. Once they meet your floor, treat them all on equal footing. Dispose of tests that don't seem to help.

Also, spend some time with HR to understand the test and what it means. Make sure you have good legal/HR support for how you can interpret the results without creating exposure for the company.

1. Where you have a very limited selection of qualified employees. You are not saving any time so interview all candidates.
2. You have a referral you trust. I love employee referrals especially from people I know are good employees.


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