One of the things I was most surprised by when I got into the jobs business over a decade ago was the prevalence and practice of age discrimination in hiring right here in the USA. Oh, sure... we're not like some overseas markets where job ads explicitly demand youth, or a particular gender, or beauty(!), in the applicant, but there it is...
Pre-hire screening tests are not new. They’re a common presence in big-box stores, where job applicants sit at a little booth near the front door for a quick test to determine if they’re suitable even to apply.
The technique is not typically associated with $100K+ jobs — but that is changing, said analysts and vendors who make the software behind the tests.
Employers are beginning to mandate applicants take an online pre-hire assessment test as they submit their resume, and it can determine whether your resume even makes it to Step One of the application process, said Lisa Rowan, program director of HR, Learning and Talent Strategies for the analyst firm IDC.
Pre-hire assessment tests examine your skill level and whether or not you would fit into the cultural and ethical environment of the employer. It measures your answers against what the employer has defined as the profile of an ideal employee in that position. The test is psychometric, testing personality and style as opposed to skills. It’s also subjective, Rowan said; for a sales position it may reflec t a particular sales style a given employer might prefer and assess how a candidate thinks and behaves to determine if he would be a good fit.
Rapid (and expensive) employee turnover rates motivated retailers’ embrace of pre-hire assessment tests, but its use has percolated upward into companies searching to fill higher-level sales positions, Rowan said.
Shrinking human-resources departments and the surge in applicants have fueled demand for an early screening process, said Chris Forman, chief development officer and president of AIRS, a recruitment process outsourcing company owned by The Right Thing. “They have fewer HR managers in place -- they get let go in this kind of economy,” he said.
Kronos, a workforce management technology vendor, is one such technology, whose makers say it is now in high demand. In 2006 Kronos acquired Unicru, a pre-hire assessment software maker, and used the technology to build a pre-configured profile of sales associates. Most companies are still hiring revenue-driving sales positions, and the drain on human resources can take its toll.
Passing the test
There are no right or wrong answers on psychometric tests. For skills tests, job seekers can self-test using tools on Monster, for example. Otherwise, make sure you answer pre-screening questions accurately if you want your resume to make it into an employer’s ATS.
“ The game starts and stops with the screening questions," Forman says. "If you answer those questions on the Web site wrong, or answer them right and you're not what they're looking for, your resume will get knocked out."
“There’s this belief that the resume is what will put you at the top of the list," he said. "That’s the case in a number of companies, but more and more today, it’s those knockout questions that will tag you as qualified or unqualified.”