Testing Employees

Published May 31, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Managers that seek to fill staff positions use a variety of employee testing techniques. It is one of the most effective ways a leader can ascertain whether an individual is qualified and skilled for a position at their organization. Hoffman (2001) predicates that organizational testing is on the rise. This is primarily due to the significant improvements of the tests themselves as a result of mathematical breakthroughs and advances in computer technology. Consequently, leaders now have the ability to review results more quickly and far more accurately. In addition, tests help managers filter out unappealing candidates and can differentiate those who are highly competent potentials (Hoffman, 2001). This research examines the role of employee testing in relation to the hiring process. We will also take a look at the components that go into designing the most effective screening methods to yield the highest results. Our research will illustrate that even though assessments can intimidate and scare off prospective applicants, testing employees is an important part of the staff selection process because it helps identify a candidate’s abilities, it presents a way to collect genuine and direct information, and can help distinguish high performance job candidates.


The Role of Testing

Leaders and Human Resource (HR) managers’ primary focus is to extract accurate information and responses in interviewees during the hiring process. Like thorough detectives, they gather data and initiate interviews to ascertain whether to offer the potential applicant the position they seek to fill. Falcone (2008) postulates that employers who yield the best results put a plan together that helps ascertain the following information: (a) what is the reason and motivation behind the applicant seeking the position, (b) does the person fill a need for the organization, (c) is the individual willing to commit to progressive career management with the firm or filling a temporary need waiting for the next occupational opportunity, (d) is the individual merely looking for a salary increase in their current position and using this as an opportunity for leverage, (e) will the individual adhere to specific job duties laid out in the job description or are they willing and able to assume additional responsibilities, (f) how well does the individual handle emotions like stress and constructive criticism, and (g) what kind of work ethic does the individual have (Falcone, 2008). In addition, leaders should strive to develop a strategic plan that garners the best responses and meet employers’ expectations.

One method organizations devise as a means to validate a candidate’s responses is by way of reference checks. Falcone (2008) points out that equally significant, HR Managers must be careful to avoid creating tests that will yield responses which encourage applicants to retort with long inventories or flowery adjectives regarding traits such as their nobility, intelligence, commitments, work ethics, and integrity. Adjectives are not proven claims, can waste time, and act as a side-track tactic for obtaining relevant information (Falcone, 2008). The tester’s main concern is acquiring concrete evidence of how a candidate will perform, contribute to the organizational goals, and fit on the company team.


Designing Effective Tests

Testing employees is an effective method to deduce employee competencies. This includes gathering information from a candidate with components like screening tools, exams, background checks, and interviews. No matter how one slices it, employers are looking to select the strongest candidates and the best people to fill open positions. Simultaneously, they are required to satisfy EEO, ADA, and civil rights laws to avoid costly and timely litigation. Designing and implementing effective employment tests helps managers find the best candidates that are highly motivated and driven to help them pursue organizational goals with efficiency and fairness. Therefore, employment testing is an efficient tool and an imperative component toward a manager’s finding high performance workers successfully. Wigdor’s (1989) research asserts that methods of testing should include the examination of skill levels, knowledge, and capabilities designed according to a set of predetermined conditions and guidelines specific to their organization. In addition, employers use testing to evaluate a candidate’s achievements, aptitude, abilities, and personality traits (Wigdor, 1989).

Employers have also changed the climate of the testing process at the workplace because of the efforts of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). For example, Meyers (2008) reveals that a recent study conducted from the National Research Council suggests that the widely used employment tests provided by the Department of Labor’s General Aptitude Test Battery allow employers to hire a wider demographic range. These tests are designed to preserve the benefits of the testing in a manner that breaks through the discrimination barriers of the past. As a result, there have been an increasing number of minorities in the workplace. In short, employers are now able to seek qualified candidates who are highly intelligent in a safe, supportive arena in a way that is fair to any potential candidate. In addition, Meyers (2008) discloses that the EEOC recently issued a document stating that anti-discrimination laws must be included in the design of employer tests, personality tests, medical examinations, criminal background checks, and credit checks. The EEOC contends that testing and other methods of screening are efficient methods to screen vast numbers of applicants and helps in the decision making process (Meyers, 2008). Employers are urged to educate themselves on these regulations to avoid violation of anti-discrimination laws and recommend employers implement “best practices” conduct when employing tests and screening tools.

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Testing employees is very effective for collecting valuable data. To achieve the best results, Arthur (1991) contends the environment should be consistent each time the test is conducted. This includes elements such as seating, space, ambiance, ventilation, and lighting. In addition, the same tools or screening devices should be distributed in the same fashion each time the test is given with the purpose of the test clearly explained to the candidate from the onset (Arthur, 1991). For instance, when an applicant submits information with adjectives purporting they are not afraid to work hard, the interviewer must find a way for the candidate to elaborate. For example, the interviewer may communicate to the applicant with a response that gives praise to hard workers and follow that by asking the applicant to share an experience of how hard they work in relation to their colleagues. Leaders do not want to intimidate and scare off potential hires, so they look for ways to ascertain the best information to help them in the decision making process. To find the best possible candidates, effective leaders and HR managers design and create tests that will help them attract, recruit, and maintain the highest level performers.



Employee testing presents an effective way to collect genuine and direct information. They are procedures that help determine whether an employee is an organizational fit. Proper administration should fall within the guidelines and regulations of the EEO, ADA, and civil laws to avoid any violation with privacy or discrimination issues. The EEOC offers employers fact sheets with information and guidelines that clearly lay out the parameters to help managers veer away from any potential pitfalls. Arthur’s (1991) research suggests that tests should be designed to measure skill levels and also help determine how driven an individual is as well as identify a potential hire’s undesirable traits and shortcomings. In addition, the EEOC requires that testing include a written policy that clearly identifies the main objectives of the position, regardless of religion, creed, race, gender, age, disability, or ethnicity (Arthur, 1991). In conclusion, while it can intimidate and scare off potential applicants, testing employees is a significant part of the hiring process because it identifies a candidate’s abilities and helps differentiate unappealing applicants from those who are high level performers.



Arthur, D. (1991, August). Conducting pre-employment and employment tests. supervisory management. Saranac Lake, NY, USA. Retrieved May 15, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/214226575?accountid=32521

Falcone, P. (2008). 96 great interview questions to ask before you hire. New York, NY: AMACOM.

Hoffman, E. (2001). Ace the corporate personality test. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Meyers, J. L. (2008, March 12). Employment tests. Pittsburgh Post – Gazette. Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Retrieved May 15, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com.proxy-library.ashford.edu/docview/390705134?accountid=32521

Wigdor, A. (1989, August 21). Employment tests can be useful. Chicago Tribune. Chicago, IL, USA. Retrieved 15 2013, May , from http://search.proquest.com/docview/282608644?accountid=32521

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