These days, a shitty personality could cost you a job. And companies are finding new ways to detect one.
These “pre-hire assessments,” otherwise known as personality tests, are typically administered prior to an in-person interview. Although they add another step to the rigorous interview process, studies show that they’ve reduced job turnover and helped hiring managers accurately select the best person for the job.
“Pre-hire assessments have been used for years, but never have such tests been deployed so widely at companies across the U.S. The automation of the job application process, combined with powerful data tools and inexpensive online software, have led to falling costs, more accurate results and a surge in use,” explains the Wall Street Journal’s Lauren Weber.
As of 2013, 57 percent of U.S. employers used pre-hire assessments to evaluate candidates, with the top 10 U.S. private employers getting in on the action. That’s a big jump from just 26 percent in 2001.
These personality tests, plus the standard interviewing process, background checks and drug tests, combine to create a very specific “hiring formula” unique to each company. Hiring managers aren’t keen on stepping outside of these carefully drawn boundaries, regardless of your dazzling wit and charm during the interview (assuming you’re even able to get one).
The ACT of the Job Search?
Like millennials in their mid-twenties, companies are no longer settling. This means that the bar is officially raised for job seekers, particularly for the long-term unemployed or those new to the job market.
“Companies aren’t settling for people with minimum skills; they want applicants who stand out in ability and workplace temperament, a new recruiting standard they say yields longer tenure and higher productivity,” said Weber.
The recession gave rise to so-called “credential creep” and growing employer selectivity. Job seekers see these pre-hire assessments as yet another obstacle standing in their way of employment.
“The problem with the assessments is you don’t get results back, so you have no idea what you did wrong or how to improve,” explains job seeker Chuck McCrory in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Those struggling to find a job are frustrated with being cast out of the hiring pool before even meeting face-to-face.
On the bright side, applicants are more likely to stay at their job once they find one.
According to University of Chicago economist Steven Davis, the labor-market churn, or the job-to-job movement of U.S. workers, has “declined by more than 25 percent since 2000.” This means that “a larger fraction of the people [companies] hire are working out.”
This equates to an influx of emails starting with, “Thank you for your interest in [insert company name], but…” and a decrease in hiring and firing and costly trial employment periods.
You could argue that these pre-hire assessments disadvantage entry-level applicants. Like any personality test, the questions tend to be of a fickle nature, suggesting that there is some “skill” in answering them. Those who aren’t familiar with this type of testing or those who have just entered the workforce may be more likely to be cast from the hiring pool right off the bat.
With that being said, we advise against letting these assessments stand in your way of applying for a job. At the very least, applying for the positions requiring a pre-hire test will give you a feel for what these tests are like. Eventually, you’ll be able to master it, just like the ACT you took eight times.
What do you think of pre-hire assessments? Would you rather at least be given the chance for a hire and fire? Share your thoughts in the comments below or catch up with us on Facebook.