Selection Testing: What It Is and How To Use It in the Hiring Process

Selection testing is a screening process that hiring managers use to judge an applicant’s fit for a certain job or company. A selection test is a standardized test that the hiring manager gives to all applicants.
  • Achievement,
  • Aptitude,
  • Interest,
  • Personality and.
  • Intelligence tests.

Members may download a single copy of our sample documents to use for your own purposes within your company. Please take note that your legal counsel should review all such forms and policies to ensure that they comply with applicable laws and that they have been modified to reflect your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Such samples may not be replicated in any other manner, by either members or non-members (e g. , to republish in a book or use for a business purpose) without receiving prior approval from SHRM On the page where the item is located, click the “reuse permissions” button to submit a request for that item. Page Content.

The purpose of this article is to provide information on the fundamentals of pre-employment testing, different selection tools and test methods, how to decide what testing is necessary, where to find reviews of commercially available tests, and how to implement and monitor pre-employment testing by HR professionals to make sure that it is valid, reliable, legal, and efficient. This toolkit does not address drug testing.

A company that hires well typically experiences higher productivity and lower turnover, both of which have a positive impact on the bottom line. The wrong hires can be costly in terms of wasted training and development funds, management time, and employee morale. HR professionals can reduce hiring times and choose the most qualified candidates who are best suited for the organization by using pre-employment testing and new screening tools and technology.

Employers run the risk of litigation if a selection decision is contested and found to be discriminatory or in violation of state or federal regulations, so pre-employment tests need to be carefully chosen and monitored. HR professionals must be aware of emerging trends, and tests used in the selection process must be ethical, valid, and legal.

A score, rating, description, or category is typically produced by employment tests, which are typically standardized instruments designed to measure skills, intellect, personality, or other characteristics. However, any employment requirement imposed by an employer is regarded as a “test” under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) 1978 Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures. “.

Honesty and integrity assessments gauge a candidate’s propensity for dishonest actions like lying, stealing, abusing drugs or alcohol. Two types of tests assess honesty and integrity. Overt integrity tests include questions about attitudes and behavior related to theft and ask direct questions about honesty. Integrity tests that focus on the individual’s personality make use of psychological concepts like dependability and deference to authority. These tools, according to critics, could violate privacy and lead to self-incrimination. They also assert that candidates can determine the purpose of the questions and offer politically correct responses. Before implementing these tests, employers should seek legal advice because some states have laws governing them.

The employer must first decide which tests are required, then choose or create a test that accurately assesses the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other qualities (KSAOs) required, and finally, monitor the test’s use. Although setting up a reliable testing procedure can take some time, the wealth of knowledge it yields might be valuable.

The first step in selecting the tests to use is to isolate the KSAOs that the new hire must have on Day 1. The list of KSAOs must include what the employee must understand and be able to perform without additional on-the-job training before the employer can consider testing options.

Skills are best assessed by having the applicant perform them. Evidently, some skills are easier to evaluate than others, but it may be beneficial to test important job skills Once more, employers must create a uniform, job-related, validated assessment procedure to be used with every applicant. Skills can be evaluated by developing job-related assessment centers or by requesting work samples.

Abilities are also best assessed by demonstration. However, when physically demanding activity is involved, safety concerns might take precedence over the need for evaluation. The mental ability test, which measures general intelligence, is preferred by many employers, but it is debatable whether such tests can accurately predict work performance and they frequently have a discriminatory effect. A job-related assessment center is a better choice for positions that frequently require learning or mental acuity.

It is difficult to create an employment test that complies with legal, regulatory, and professional standards. It costs money, takes time, and calls for advanced test development abilities. The EEOC will hold employers accountable for using employment tests in accordance with standards outlined in the 1978 Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures.

Making decisions about commercially available tests can be done using the Mental Measurements Yearbook (MMY), which is published by the Buros Center for Testing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The MMY series, which is well-respected and frequently cited in all areas of psychological assessment, is a source of unbiased, expert-quality reviews of commercially available tests.

In order to avoid discrimination claims, employers must make sure that any selection tests are trustworthy, valid, and produce reliable results that predict success on the job. How the EEOC will assess a testing strategy brought into question is outlined in the agency’s Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures; further guidance is provided in the Employment Tests and Selection Procedures fact sheet. Individual state requirements and policies may apply to people working there. It is recommended to speak with a lawyer before implementing any selection procedures. See DOL Cracks Down on Companys Use of Hiring Tests.

Many employers believe formal tests, when used properly and administered, can be helpful in the hiring process. Perfect reliability is challenging to achieve, though, as a number of factors, such as inappropriate or irrelevant questions or rater bias when evaluating job candidates, can jeopardize a test’s objectivity. Organizations should provide adequate training on the guidelines for each selection test to increase the reliability of raters. For more information, see What compliance issues are involved in creating a pre-employment test? and Validate Employment Tests to Avoid Lawsuits.

The accuracy of the conclusions drawn from a test is gauged by its validity. Validity is the degree to which a test or tool actually measures what it is intended to measure for a pre-employment assessment instrument, or, alternatively, does the test accurately measure job-related factors that predict job performance. Test publishers carry out validation studies in accordance with EEOC guidelines and specific professional and industry standards. The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology is where one of the most well-known and regarded examples of these standards can be found.

To ensure legal compliance, it is essential for an organization to continuously monitor the use of any pre-employment test. The validity of testing procedures can be increased by implementing a tracking process for procedures and results, which records candidate profiles, tests taken, and results. To ensure the continued validity of employment testing, it is also necessary to keep up with legal developments. Legal counsel should be consulted right away if any discriminatory effects against a protected group are discovered during an audit of a selection test.

Employers in the US who have workers abroad must determine whether and how to modify their testing policies to adhere to relevant international laws, rules, and business practices. Employers should determine which laws and customs apply to them, and with the help of legal counsel, recommend a course of action that takes into account both the legal requirements and practical considerations of implementing a testing program. The strict laws governing personal privacy that are in place in many nations, the cultural variations in societal acceptance (or intolerance) of employment testing, and the practical challenges of administering any program should all be taken into account.

Members may download a single copy of our sample documents to use for your own purposes within your company. Please take note that your legal counsel should review all such forms and policies to ensure that they comply with applicable laws and that they have been modified to reflect your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Such samples may not be replicated in any other manner, by either members or non-members (e g. , to republish in a book or use for a business purpose) without receiving prior approval from SHRM On the page where the item is located, click the “reuse permissions” button to submit a request for that item.

Selection Testing

Types of selection tests

Depending on the position being filled and what hiring managers want to know about the applicants, different selection tests may be used. Employers may use a variety of selection tests, including:

Personality test

A personality test evaluates an applicant’s traits to ascertain the personality type they possess. Questions on the applicant’s habits, preferences, interests, and working style are included in this test. These assessments are frequently used by hiring managers to determine whether a candidate is a good fit for the position and the organization. A personality test can assist hiring managers in identifying candidates who will thrive in an environment where there is a strong emphasis on teamwork and communication.

Depending on the job, hiring managers may value different results. Hiring managers may be on the lookout for candidates who exhibit high levels of amiability and empathy for a customer-focused position. Hiring managers may be looking for candidates who can persuade and are tenacious for a sales position.

Job knowledge test

Job knowledge tests are used to assess a candidate’s potential for success in a particular position. This examination measures a candidate’s proficiency with the terms, methods, and skills pertinent to the position for which they are applying. This test is used by hiring managers to confirm that they are selecting a candidate who is knowledgeable about the position and competent to carry out the tasks it entails. When hiring for positions requiring particular skills, these tests are frequently utilized.

An employer looking to fill a position in information technology, for instance, might require candidates to pass a job knowledge test to demonstrate their familiarity with coding conventions and IT policies. Job knowledge testing can be useful for other positions as well since they call for very specific knowledge of programs and procedures.

Integrity test

Similar to personality tests, integrity tests concentrate on assessing a candidate’s moral character rather than various facets of their personality. This test enables hiring managers to confirm that they are selecting candidates who will uphold the moral standards of their business. Because ethics are crucial in any business, integrity tests can be helpful for any position and industry.

Cognitive ability test

Cognitive ability tests, also known as IQ tests, are used to assess intelligence. They can concentrate on a person’s general intelligence or on particular intelligences related to a job, such as mathematical prowess or deductive reasoning. These tests are typically used by hiring managers for positions requiring a high level of proficiency in one or more cognitive domains.

If the position requires math, it is important to know how well a candidate can perform mathematical operations and solve equations. Because it is a necessary skill for the job, some government positions, such as criminal investigator or corrections officer, may evaluate candidates on their capacity to think critically in challenging circumstances.

Emotional intelligence test

Tests of emotional intelligence gauge a candidate’s capacity for forming bonds and cooperating with others. This assessment may include some questions that are similar to those on a personality test, but it focuses on the applicants’ emotional intelligence. When hiring for leadership positions and jobs that require constant collaboration, such as public relations or marketing positions, it’s crucial to have an understanding of how someone interacts with others.

Skills test

A skills test assesses a candidate’s aptitude for carrying out particular job-related tasks. A skills test is different from a personality test in that candidates must demonstrate their proficiency in these skills rather than simply responding to questions about them. Candidates for clerical and data entry jobs may take typing tests from the hiring manager to verify their accuracy and speed. Another illustration of a skills test is a writing task provided to a candidate for a position requiring writing.

Physical abilities test

Physical abilities tests measure a candidates strength and endurance. For jobs requiring a certain level of physical fitness and aptitude, these tests are required. Police and military positions are two that frequently use physical ability tests. These tests are given by hiring managers to make sure that applicants can handle the level of physical activity needed for the position without risk of injury.

What is selection testing?

Hiring managers use selection testing as a screening procedure to determine whether applicants are a good fit for a particular position or business. A selection test is a uniform examination that the hiring manager administers to all candidates. This examination could be physical, conducted in-person during the interview, online in conjunction with the application, or conducted following an initial phone interview.

Selection tests can vary in criteria and length. Some selection tests can be finished in just a few minutes, while others can take up to an hour. The duration of the evaluation is determined by the position and what the employer wants to find out about the applicant.

Why are selection tests used?

The ability to learn more about a candidate before continuing to the next stages of the hiring process makes selection tests an invaluable tool for hiring managers. Because the hiring manager does not have to arrange meetings with each candidate, selection processes can save time. Instead, they can send each applicant an online selection test. To save even more time, they can integrate the selection test into the digital application.

Examining a resume is a less accurate way to evaluate a candidate’s skills, knowledge, and personality than selection tests They can assist hiring managers in making predictions about a candidate’s performance in a particular position or at a company. Even before hiring, selection tests can show a candidate’s aptitude for the position. This can increase the likelihood of hiring a candidate who does the job well and stays with the company, saving the hiring manager from having to go through the hiring process more than once for a single position.

Reliability and validity of selection tests

Certain selection tests are more reliable than others. The consistency of test administration determines test reliability. A selection test must be consistent each time and objectively evaluate each candidate for it to be reliable. For instance, physical and skills tests are frequently the most trustworthy types of tests because they assess applicants based on their demonstrated aptitudes. Strong candidates are those who successfully navigate an obstacle course or a timed typing test. There is little room for subjectivity with these tests.

Validity is another important consideration when implementing a selection test. When discussing selection testing, the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee mentions three different types of validity:

How to create a selection testing program

You can create your own selection testing program by following these steps if you want to improve your hiring procedure:

1. Determine what test to use

Choosing the type of test to use is the first step in developing a selection testing program. When determining whether a candidate is a good fit for the position, take into account the information you want to learn about them. If company culture is a key component of your hiring process, a personality test can help determine whether the candidate’s values align with those of the company. A job knowledge test can be a useful test to determine which candidates are capable of performing the job if you are hiring for a highly technical position.

If there are multiple tests that are pertinent to the position, you can decide which one is more crucial or ask applicants to take both. You should also think about how likely it is for candidates to pass these selection tests. It may be preferable to administer a shorter assessment if you are hiring for an entry-level or part-time position. Candidates will be more willing to devote time to an assessment for higher-level positions.

2. Create or choose a test

You can design your own test or use a screening test that is already available. Which option you make will depend on the details you want to learn about the candidate. Many personality selection tests are available online, and you can also use specific selection testing services if you’ve decided to conduct one. Regardless of the position you are trying to fill, personality tests typically ask the same questions, so it is most effective to use an existing test.

You may need to create your own screening test if you want to learn the candidates’ knowledge of the particular position. If the job is common, you might be able to find tests that already exist, but if it involves duties that are unique to your business, it might be best to design your own test.

3. Research ethics of your test

You must confirm that your test complies with the EEOC standards for ethical employment screening before inviting candidates to take it. In order to ensure that your test does not contravene any of these standards, you will need to conduct extensive research before creating it. Even if you decide to utilize a currently available commercial selection test, it is crucial to review the EEOC’s guidelines. Because not all current tests are regulated, research is crucial.

4. Monitor your test

You should closely watch your test once you start using it for the selection process. This crucial step will help you make sure that your test goes as intended. After hiring candidates who passed the selection test, assess their performance on the job in relation to their test outcome. This can help you determine the accuracy of your test. You should keep track of which applicants perform well on your test and which applicants perform poorly on it. This can assist you in determining the validity of your test and removing any potential unconscious biases.


What are types of selection test?

Selection tests come in four different flavors: aptitude, achievement, personality, and interest tests.

What is selection method?

To help choose the best candidates for the job, both internal and external recruitment may use interviews, application forms, aptitude tests, group tasks, presentations, and role-playing exercises.

What is selection interviewing?

To ascertain whether you are qualified for a particular job opening, a selection interview is a free-form and open-ended procedure. Despite the fact that it is typically less structured than an oral exam, they are frequently more comparable than dissimilar.

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