How to hire more effectively with a pre employment assessment

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coding test

A pre-employment assessment is a way for companies to gain insight by testing candidates during the recruitment process. After all, it’s not easy being a technical recruiter. For most roles in the industry, talent is scarce. There is even a shortage of technical recruiters to do the technical recruitment. So, companies need to take every step to ensure the right candidates don’t slip through the cracks. Including a pre employment assessment into your recruitment process, can make all the difference.

What is a pre employment assessment?

A pre employment assessment is a form of standardized test, that companies can choose to implement into their hiring processes. Pre employment tests come in varying forms and help recruiters to gain knowledge about their candidates’ skills and capabilities.

In technical recruitment, pre employment assessments often come in the form of coding tests, pair programming, and technical interviews. These assess the candidate’s technical acumen as well as their way of solving problems.

The type of test used during a company’s recruitment process can depend on the type of work the company does.

Types of pre employment assessment used in technical hiring

Source: Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Job knowledge tests

A job knowledge test is a type of pre employment assessment, commonly used for technical recruitment, such as for a computer programmer. These technical assessments challenge a candidate’s actual knowledge of a subject. They can help you gain knowledge about a candidate’s capabilities. However, the drawback is they don’t demonstrate how likely a candidate might be to learn the skills they don’t already have. Emphasis is placed on knowledge possessed, rather than on the capacity to learn, which is insufficient for tech skills.

Integrity tests

Integrity tests are another form of pre employment assessment. They’ve actually been around a long time – since the 1980s. They focus on the character and trustworthiness of a candidate. Integrity tests became popular in America. Believe it or not, before their introduction some employers would actually use lie-detector tests on their potential hires to see if they were trustworthy. Integrity tests focus on ethical questions, designed to assess personality traits. Ironically, one of the issues with Integrity tests, is that candidates can lie about their answers. So they’re not as foolproof as other types of pre employment assessment tests.

Physical ability tests

Popular if the job role will require a particular level of physical fitness, such as astronaut or football player. Physical ability tests are not needed for most technical recruiting positions, because most technical work is dependent on the mind more than the body.

Cognitive ability tests

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Cognitive ability tests focus on the candidate’s thinking capacity and problem-solving skills. These can include various reasoning tests such as mathematical, logical, or mechanical questions.

Skill tests and work sample tests

Pre employment skill testing is important in order to assess both soft and hard skills. These focus on practical application, such as code writing tasks, rather than merely theoretical knowledge.

Work sample tests are are a kind of skills test of their own. They are very effective when it comes to predictive validity (research by Schmidt and Hunter), as well as in technical hiring. The candidate in these cases is given an example of the kind of work they will be expected to carry out on the job and asked to complete a task based on this.

Source: ResearchGate

Work sample tests are a good indicator of whether the candidate possesses the required skills to perform the role. They also demonstrate how the candidate might react in certain pressure situations. The tests allow recruiters to not only take a programmer’s word for it that they are skilled enough to undertake the role – the recruiters, hiring managers, and team leads can see the results for themselves.

DevSkiller TalentScore implements work sample tests to great effect. In fact, the idea has been taken further with the implementation of the RealLifeTesting™ methodology.

For a 360-view of the candidate’s coding skills, you should look for a solution offering various types of tasks, including programming tasks, code review tests, and code gaps.

To learn how Headspring (acquired by Accenture) leverages pre employment assessmemts, watch this webinar:

How pre employment assessments are used in technical hiring

Coding tests are popular as pre employment assessments in technical hiring. The advantage of coding tests is they don’t only assess algorithmic knowledge. They allows a technical candidate to be able to demonstrate their actual, practical coding skills.

Furthermore, pre employment assessments reduce the overall hiring time dramatically. They reduce the amount of interviews required during the hiring process, as not all of the candidates will pass the assessment. This also reduces the amount of work resting on the shoulders of the hiring manager. Making for an overall, quicker and simpler hiring process.

Advantages of a pre employment assessment over traditional CV screening

Although CVs are still widely used in recruitment their importance as a way to assess candidates, CV screening is being replaced by more reliable screening methods. Quite simply because the art of embellishment is often alive and well in many people when it comes to CV writing.

Furthermore, as much as recruiters can ask for an employer reference from a previous position, it’s not always possible to fact-check a candidate’s entire employment history.

There are of course, some reasonable arguments for recruiters to continue to depend solely on CVs, however, most can now be easily refuted.

Read: How to improve your time to hire in tech

Pre employment tests are objective

 A pre employment assessment test allows recruiters to accurately measure the capabilities and skills of each candidate, in a standardized way. It can often be very difficult to assess someone’s technical knowledge, soft skills, personality, ambition and aptitude to learn – all within a 20 minute interview. However, this is what is expected of recruiters. It costs companies a lot of money to replace employee’s who aren’t the right company fit- the pressure is on recruiters to make the right call.

Pre employment assessment tests, like work sample tests, can take the guesswork out of candidate assessment, and allow for a more reliable, objective process, whereby candidates are assessed on their actual, on-the-job skills.

Pre employment tests accelerate the recruitment process

An argument against implementing pre employment skill testing is the time spent on the assessments, by both the recruiter and the candidate.  As demonstrated by the quote below:

“Skills assessment tests are time-consuming. Candidates need time to submit work or give presentations. Hiring managers also need time to evaluate results.” – Nikoletta Bika- Workable

Although in some cases this statement is true, not all evaluation of pre employment tests is as time consuming as this point suggests. For instance, DevSkiller coding tests are evaluated automatically; with automatic progress reports sent to recruiters. This quickens up the recruitment process as the evaluating process is taken out of the hands of the recruiter. Not only this, but only best candidates progress to the interview stage, allowing for fewer interviews to be held.

A pre employment assessment helps candidate retention

Retention of candidates is an important aspect of successful technical hiring. The longer the recruitment process, the less likely a company is to retain the best candidates all the way through the pipeline. Implementing a process that uses pre employment tests can provide hiring managers with all kinds of information they would have otherwise not known. Which in turn, can contribute towards them making a quicker final decision.

According to the DevSkiller IT skills report 2021/22– “The average wait time between a candidate receiving a coding test invitation and taking the test is 2 days and 16 hours.” This shows that in most cases candidates are very responsive when it comes to pre employment coding tests.

The average wait in hours, based on the day of the week the invite was sent:

Occasionally, candidates can be reluctant to take pre employment assessments if the task is too long or arduous. It is important to make pre employment tasks as relevant to the role as possible. If necessary, mention how long the recruitment process will take overall and that the pre employment test helps to speed up the final decision.

 The right candidate, the one who will be the best fit for your company and wants the job the most, usually won’t mind having to give up some of their time if it means they have a chance to demonstrate their skills.

Check out : The 15 best recruitment methods for effective IT hiring

The strengths of DevSkiller pre employment assessments

There are several features that set DevSkiller coding tests apart from many other pre-employment assessment tests. The first is speed. DevSkiller TalentScore comes with default, pre-defined developer tests that are ready to send out. This means that all a recruiter needs is an email address, and they can start sending out pre employment assessments to their candidates.

Here’s how you can make pre employment assessments part of your recruitment process while giving stellar candidate experience.

Realistic programming tasks & ease of use

During a DevSkiller programming task, the candidate is asked to modify the source code of an existing project. The tasks implement RealLifeTesting™ to make the challenges as close to real-life as possible.

Candidates then have the option to use DevSkiller’s own in-browser IDE. This makes the whole process simpler as there are no components to download. Candidates use DevSkiller’s browser-based code editor and can build the project inside the browser.

Customized pre employment assessments

DevSkiller TalentScore allows for customized questions that are specifically tailored to your company’s work processes. Customized developer testing that is suited exactly to your needs, including the content of the questions and the duration of the tests. Furthermore, DevSkiller tests are very easy to set up and to send out.

Candidate performance score

DevSkiller TalentScore provides recruiters with a candidate performance score based on the success of their coding test. These detailed, shareable reports are generated automatically once the candidate completes their test. The reports offer an invaluable means for recruiters to be able to compare,  like-for-like, the candidates in their pipeline. This allows recruiters to single out which candidate is the best and most suited to the role.

Final thoughts

Pre employment assessments are vital in modern technical hiring. They take the emphasis off the recruiter’s subjective judgment, and focus instead on objective results.

Pre employment assessment tests also help to quicken up the recruitment process for the recruiter. This is particularly the case with DevSkiller tests, which are automatically assessed. Therefore, quickening the recruitment process for the candidate in the long run.

This article has also shown that there are several different types of pre employment assessment test. Moreover, although most offer a more thorough way of assessing candidates than traditional CVs, some types are more suited to modern technical hiring than others.

Want to try a DevSkiller pre employment assessment? – Request a demo

Photo by Christopher Gower on Unsplash

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