How to Assess Job Candidates: Pre-Employment Interviewing and Testing

Jan 20, 2015

How to Assess Job Candidates

Human resource professionals and hiring managers need to look past the resume and beyond the criminal and background checks when looking at a candidate for hire. A single document or two simply does not provide enough information to make an informed decision. Hiring best practices include criminal and background checks, a formalized behavioral interviewing process, objective behavioral testing, and extensive reference checks. Last week, we examined the importance of criminal and background checks. Now let's explore candidate selection a little deeper and see if we can learn about the person behind the interview façade.

There are so many topics and questions that are illegal to ask during an interview. How can we identify adverse behavior patterns without stepping on legal toes? Often, behavioral-based questioning can lead a candidate into discussing important aspects of his or her thinking and decision-making style that could affect job performance in a new position.

Legal, insightful behavioral interview questions include:

  • Tell me about some of the times you have had to work under pressure or had to meet difficult deadlines.
  • Discuss a time in the past when you have failed to meet an objective or goal. Why did that happen?
  • In your previous jobs, have you ever been confronted by management because of an error you made? How did you handle the situation?
  • Has there ever been a time when you were asked to do something that challenged your integrity? What was your response?
  • Would you describe yourself as someone who enjoys taking risks? Tell me about a situation in the past in which you had to take a risk.

However, even these questions can be answered untruthfully. Pre-employment assessments can confirm the information you uncover from the candidate. Behavioral testing offers a number of advantages:

  • Tests are impartial, asking the same questions of everyone.
  • Tests typically require less time than traditional interviews, so they are more efficient in obtaining job-related information.
  • Appropriate tests have been carefully screened to be fair, unbiased and legal.
  • Tests allow the individual's answers to be compared with hundreds or thousands of other candidates' answers to the same question under the same standard condition.
  • The decisions made from test results are based on research studies that prove their accuracy and effectiveness.

These tests give interviewers another perspective on the job candidate, allowing them to assess personal aspects of the individual, such as interpersonal skills, initiative and self-regulation. By adding these assessments to the hiring process, interviewers can answer the questions that eluded them previously. They can determine how the candidate would work within the corporate culture, eliminate candidates whose profiles indicate they would not work well with the leadership style of the manager, and gain some insight into the individual's work ethic. Additionally, pre-employment testing provides an opportunity to conduct benchmark studies on successful performers in a given job. By conducting this type of study using behavioral assessment tests, a company can develop a job analysis of the critical skills necessary for success. These profiles of success can be compared with job candidate profiles and will greatly enhance the probability of hiring the right person the first time.

Results of pre-employment behavioral interviewing and pre-employment testing should never be the sole deciding factors in hiring a new employee. These elements should be used as part of the entire hiring process, along with background checks and extensive reference checks. Selecting the candidate who is the best fit for the position can easily be determined through looking beyond the resume. Establishing and implementing hiring best practices can help your company avoid the negative repercussions of hasty, ill-informed hiring decisions. ZERORISK HR can assist you in the process. We can produce a customized interview strategy and legally reviewed behavioral interview guide for each candidate to assist in maximizing each interview. Learn more about the ZERORISK Hiring System.

ZERORISK helps organizations build great cultures by identifying, developing, and retaining top talent. The ZERORISK Hiring System blends a revolutionary behavioral science with state-of-the-art technology to reduce unwanted turnover and improve employee performance. For more information contact us at (800) 827-5991.

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