In grade school standardized tests were administered to aid teachers in the placement of students into appropriate classes. During high school many young adults start thinking about taking the SAT and/or ACT which is a requirement for most college admissions. It seems only natural that by the time we reach adulthood, pre-employment skills testing be essential.

As a staffing professional, the following situation probably occurs every day; your client calls needing an employee ASAP for a hard-to-fill position. Once you find a feasible candidate you interview, conduct reference checks, and after you have the candidate fill out the necessary paperwork, you send them to work. The new employee starts work, and then you find out they aren’t able to perform the job requirements. The result: one unhappy client.

Staffing agencies use skills testing and skill testing documentation to provide extra information about applicants that cannot be obtained from their resume or interview. Depending on the position, pre-employment skills testing can be very elaborate and can be administered based on knowledge, IQ, aptitude, behavior, personality, and even include a fit-for-duty test (not to be confused with medical checks). Although skills testing do take extra time in the hiring process, would you use them if they helped answer the following questions?

How trustworthy is the candidate?

How many times have you brought someone into an employment relationship only to find out later that they weren’t trustworthy or competent? Their resume wasn’t accurate and they weren’t truthful during the interview process. A candidate may tell you they have excellent clerical skills, but if you would have tested their skill level in word processing, data entry, or 10-key and they fail to meet standards, would you have still hired them?

Is this candidate going to become a workers’ compensation claim?

Workers’ compensation can not only cause expense, but also lost manpower and thus production. It is fundamental that each job order fits the worker and that each worker fits the job order. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 13% of all workplace injuries happen in less than 3 months. There is no arguing that genuine Workers’ Compensation claims do happen, regardless of what provisions are taken.

Will hiring this candidate only increase turnover?

Staffing professionals know, more than anyone, that individuals are on their best behavior in the interview; and typically it’s not until after an individual is hired that you find that the employee is unreliable, lacks proficiency, has a poor work ethic, etc. There is no denying that a staffing agency’s major selling point is that they reduce turnover. Most likely even explaining countless times that their hiring process includes drug testing, reference checks, background checks and even skills testing. Unless you test an applicant’s skills, you are taking a risk that they can perform.

Keep in mind; skills’ testing is only one part of the selection process. Not every skills test is necessary, or will result in the information you’re looking for. The individual who performs best on their skills test might still not be the most appropriate candidate for the job. However, every job order has some form of measurable, objective standard and a bad hiring decision can increase the likelihood that that employee won’t perform well. At that point the questions your client asks themselves are: “Why did we hire that employee? And Why did we work with that staffing company?”

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