Pre-hire tests to get the most out of your outsourcing

Angela McDonald • 12/07/2016

Every job uses some kind of testing to try and ensure the right person is hired for the job. Basic interviews and written application forms are themselves a level of testing. But to make sure you employ someone who is the best fit for your company when you are outsourcing, using any of a number of other tests can help guide your decision.

The important factors for any test

No matter what test you apply, to be worth anything it must meet three criteria:
• Validity – The test must actually measure what it says it measures. A personality test needs to accurately gauge someone’s personality, just like a typing-speed test needs to accurately measure how fast a candidate is able to type.
• Reliability – The test has to give consistent results. If a candidate takes the test twice a few days apart their scores should be the same. If there is a wide variation between tests, the test is not reliable.
• Relevancy – The test needs to measure qualities which relate to the job you are hiring for. There is no point requiring a candidate to pass a typing-speed test if you are looking for a graphic designer.

Cognitive ability tests

Otherwise known as IQ tests, these measure traits like logic, mathematical reasoning, quick-thinking ability, basic general knowledge, and reading comprehension. While these tests are usually reliable and easy to administer, they are also shown to skew results depending on the person’s gender and race – a phenomenon known as stereotype threat. It is also important to understand the cultural background of the person taking the test – what may be general knowledge to you may not be for someone from another culture.

Behavioural tests

These usually use open-ended questions asking a person to describe their behaviour when they were in a certain situation. For instance, “When was a time you had to perform a task at work that was unfamiliar to you, and how did you deal with it?” is an example. These are usually reliable and easy to administer – but the results aren’t easy to compare to one another as they don’t produce a number. Again, there is a cultural aspect which needs to be taken into account in the answers.

Personality type tests

These tests are usually a series of questions describing aspects of personality and asking whether the candidate agrees with them or not – mainly on a one-to-five scale. From there, different questions are assessed and the candidate is given a personality “type”. The most well-known is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Despite its popularity, the MBTI was never intended to be used for recruitment. These tests have a low reliability and are not always relevant to the job you are hiring for. If you are going to use one of these tests, it should be alongside others, or after hiring to promote self-awareness around strengths and weaknesses.

Language tests

Particularly with outsourcing, whether the candidate speaks and writes adequate English can be a major hiring factor. Any language test you apply should be work-related rather than measuring general comprehension and vocabulary – you want to know how the candidate communicates in a work environment, not if they know synonyms for “communicate”.

Sample job tests

These are probably the best way to identify which candidates have the skills you are looking for in an employee. They are also the most difficult to develop and administer as they are specific to each organisation and position. But the time it takes is worth it, as the test will give you a good indication whether a candidate is up to the job, and allow you to compare candidates directly across the output of the same task.

No matter what tests you choose to administer, Deployed can help you. We can implement your tests for you and send you the results, ensuring that you get the candidate who ticks all the boxes you’re looking for.