Digital Transformation
High Volume Recruitment

The Essential Guide To Pre-Hire Assessments

October 7, 2021
The Essential Guide To Pre-Hire Assessments

During an era where one-click job application systems have left hiring managers and HR teams to sift through hundreds, often thousands, of applications to find a diamond in the rough, pre-hire assessments have emerged as a light at the end of the tunnel.

Pre-hire assessments use digital technology driven by AI to help you quickly assess candidates—looking at hard skills like typing speed or math ability and soft skills like critical thinking, communication, and temperament. Significantly, pre-hire assessments help your team do this consistently, encouraging a more diverse and inclusive pool of candidates.

What's Inside

Rethinking How To Screen Candidates

Digital technologies have forever changed the hiring process and will continue to make an impact as "commoditized searching means candidates don't need to expend much effort on applications, and it's practically effortless to express interest in a position." Of course, expressed interest doesn't directly correspond to suitability, and while technology has made it easier to apply for a job, it has also created new challenges for HR teams. Managing the volume of applicants, assessing competency, determining fit, eliminating bias, fostering inclusion and diversity—today’s recruiters require innovative solutions like pre-hire assessments to help them keep pace with the heavy demands of their role.

The purpose of this guide is to provide you with need-to-know information about pre-hire assessments and shed some light on how they are changing the game when it comes to screening candidates and reducing your cost-per-hire and attrition rates. This guide will address some of the most significant issues and new best practices for today's managers, including:

  • Shifting landscapes and changing expectations in the job market
  • Hiring practices in the digital era
  • AI, modern recruitment, and the role of screening tests
  • The benefits of candidate testing
  • Empowering your HR department to make better hiring decisions

Candidate Expectations And The Shifting Landscape Of Recruiting And Hiring

As our daily lives become increasingly digitized and automated, it is understandable that the same standards of ease and convenience so prevalent in the marketplace would crossover into the world of recruitment—impacting candidate’s expectations of the ease in which they should be able to find a job, and the type of treatment they expect when they get one.

LearningBranch_frontline employees

What Today's Candidates Expect

In the past, putting out a job ad in the local newspaper was enough to bring qualified candidates to your doorstep.

But technology has changed how candidates search for new roles and allows them to apply to more positions than ever before, faster than before, and without being confined to one geographical location.

The modern job seeker casts a wide net and reserves their discernment for the type of treatment and perks they want to receive. Today's candidates know what they want from employers and won't hesitate to move on if they don't find what they’re looking for. As recruiters search for candidates with the right value fit for the role, candidates look for culture fit.

Additionally, consumer search habits have crossed over into the job market, and candidates shop around for the best work environment and benefits available to them. Some of the expectations today's job seekers are shopping around for include:

  • Remote or hybrid work options
  • Flexibility in their daily and weekly schedule
  • Mental health benefits
  • Diverse and inclusive work environments

These aren't simply perks to entice job seekers. They're important symbols of your company's values and culture that would-be candidates use to understand how your company treats employees. To attract top talent, it's essential to be transparent about what the job entails and what your company has to offer, even at the early stages of hiring. You want to create a two-way street where clear communication about the job requirements and company culture can help candidates understand what will be expected of them, so only the candidates most suited to the role will apply.

LearningBranch_frontline employees

The Recruitment Landscape Is Shifting

Just as technological gains made in the last century have changed how job seekers find new opportunities, technology has also changed how recruiters seek and assess new talent.

Today’s recruiters need to hire quickly, accurately, and in the most cost-effective way possible. Recruiters also need to assess and hire for evidence of skill with rapidly changing or new-to-market software used on the job. This means that hiring managers can’t look to experience alone, especially considering the speed at which many software skills become outdated. Instead, they must embrace new strategies like hiring for foundational skills and value fit and rely on training and upskilling to bridge the knowledge gap for emerging technologies.

Value fit looks beyond on-the-job experience and assesses the soft skills and personality traits that have the biggest influence on performance, including:

  • Attitude
  • Listening skills
  • Patience
  • Empathy

These traits are essential to positive work performance but are difficult for recruiters to assess using traditional hiring methods like resume screening and interviewing. To find the top talent, recruiters must turn to technology for new ways of quickly and efficiently evaluating candidates, such as pre-hire assessments.  


How Do Virtual Contract Recruiters Help Companies Hire Fast And Accurately?

Hiring Practices In The Digital Era

While digital technologies have made some aspects of the recruiting process more manageable, today's recruiters still face many challenges filling open roles. With the emergence of one-click applications, recruiters must sort through larger and larger candidate pools. The abundance of choice slows down the process, and over-reliance on traditional recruiting methods can lead to less-than-ideal hiring decisions, even in the face of so many options. Hiring the wrong person for the job can have huge implications on your recruiting budget, productivity, and company morale.

The Biggest Challenges Of Hiring Frontline Employees

Churn on the frontline is nothing new. For decades, attrition rates for frontline employees have been a primary concern for HR professionals and have been on the rise in recent years. While most HR departments spend countless resources trying to develop innovative retention programs, the biggest challenge lies in hiring the most suitable candidates in the first place. Some of the biggest challenges that employers face when hiring frontline employees include:

  1. Hiring employees who are unable to deliver quality service that meets or exceeds brand standards.
  2. Engaging employees with the brand values and company culture improves their productivity and sense of teamwork and reduces attrition.
  3. Finding candidates whose values and outlook are aligned with the business strategy and vision for customer service.
  4. Providing new hires and existing employees with easy access to important information and resources to help them improve their performance.

Emerging from the pandemic, frontline workers find themselves in high demand. Younger generations of workers are more willing to job-hop until they find a good fit—shopping around for a company that offers the right combination of work conditions, compensation and benefits, flexible work options, and company culture to suit their needs. For hiring managers, this makes radical transparency about the role requirements and pre-screening for competency and fit more important than ever.

Modern Methods For Remote Recruiting And Hiring

Savvy recruiters embrace new technologies, like AI-powered pre-hire assessments to help them make smart hiring decisions.

When you need to hire quickly and efficiently and cannot meet with candidates in person, online assessments are the most effective way to evaluate a candidate's communication skills. And the evidence suggests that there are some big benefits to going this route, including:

  • Collects actionable data to improve your process
  • Effectively test voice, chat, and email communication skills of new team members
  • Eliminates hiring bias
  • Improves quality of candidate pool
  • Lowers recruitment costs
  • Reduces time-to-hire
  • Standardizes and creates performance benchmarks for your organization


Source : GetApp Lab

In our blog post, “How To "Hire Top Talent Remotely?“ we cover the exact steps you need to take to maximize success in your remote hiring efforts, including:

  • Clarifying your needs
  • Streamlining performance ideals
  • Testing and examining candidates
  • Using technology to your advantage
  • Integrating training into your onboarding process

When you use technology to adopt a no-interview approach to hiring at your company, you’ll speed up and partially automate the hiring process, saving resources and positively impacting your bottom line by reducing attrition with informed hiring decisions.

How to hire top talent remotely

How To "Hire Top Talent Remotely?

How Do You Know If An Applicant is a Good Match?

After reviewing all the application materials in detail, even the most seasoned recruiters can struggle to say with certainty that an applicant is a perfect match for the role and the organization. Rather than simply relying on your intuition, we’ve found that the following can help you spot a good fit. Ask yourself if the candidate possesses the following attributes:


A passion for learning

Are they open to new experiences and eager to learn new things? Are they curious and asking the right questions?

LearningBranch_save time

To keep employees engaged

This includes both new hires, who may lack the training resources needed to improve, and established employees who feel they lack the opportunity for personal or professional development.


A sense of urgency and the ability to prioritize

Do they demonstrate a sense of urgency in their tasks, showing their ability to prioritize tasks? Do they have strong organizational or project management skills that would allow them to juggle the competing demands of the role?

LearningBranch_high quality output

Passion for their profession

Do they express enthusiasm for what they do? Are they motivated to keep improving and growing?

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Ownership and Initiative

Does the candidate take ownership of their duties and demonstrate initiative in solving problems and overcoming obstacles? Are they able to think critically and intelligently?

LearningBranch_recruitment bias

Company and culture fit

Do they possess the same core values that would make them a good fit within the company culture? Do they have the right attitude to work and collaborate effectively with the rest of the team?



Are they able to empathize with the customer to provide exceptional customer service consistently and effectively? Can they represent the company in a positive light and leave the customer feeling heard and satisfied?


Communication skills

Are their communication skills strong? Can they express themselves clearly? Can they understand and be understood by your customers?

These are essential traits that all top-performing frontline workers possess and are the soft skills that are in the highest demand in the modern workplace. These skills complement the hard skills that a candidate brings to the table. With the growing focus on automation and digitization, soft skills are more important than ever because they cannot be replicated by a computer and put a human face on your business. Pre-hire assessments offer you a reliable way to screen for soft skills to make sure that you’re only focusing on the applicants who are a good fit for the role and your organization.

AI, modern recruitment, and the role of pre-hire assessments

While a computer program cannot easily replicate soft skills, there are many other aspects of the recruitment process and jobs market that can be automated by AI, which has some people worried about the role that technology will play in the future.

How machine learning and Artificial Intelligence are elevating the recruitment process

The concern with AI and automation has always been that it will displace human workers, “but artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are elevating the recruiting and hiring landscape,” enabling people to do their best work rather than replacing them. Recruiters are turning to AI for its unparalleled ability to process large amounts of information quickly. When faced with thousands of applications for a single role, this ability is a boon rather than a threat.

The fact is that AI-driven pre-hire assessments represent the future of hiring. They can find, identify, and engage with talent with unprecedented efficiency. AI can sort through applications quickly, and use a candidate ranking system to flag only the applications worthy of human review.

Of course, candidate ranking systems raise concerns that the human biases so prevalent in traditional hiring models will carry over into the algorithms that power AI-driven hiring assessments. But as one SHRM article points out, “one of the principal goals of using AI-based hiring assessments should be to reduce the bias that exists when human recruiters screen candidates.” Industry-wide audits exist for precisely this purpose, to identify and remove hiring bias, improving the AI with every iteration. Harvard Business Review asserted that “it is impossible to correct human bias, but it is demonstrably possible to identify and correct bias in AI,” moving us ever closer to fair hiring practices with the aid of technology.

The shift away from standardized assessments

Pre-hire assessments are nothing new. Standardized tests have been common practice in a range of industries for years. Recently, even companies with deeply entrenched standardized test rules are shifting away from generic standardized tests and towards customizable pre-hire assessments.

Pre-hire assessments can be created to be role-specific, making them a more reliable gauge of the hard and soft skills required for the role. Standardized tests have historically focused on language skills, but many applicants who pass standardized tests still underperform on the job because they lack the other skills necessary to succeed.

Read more about the move away from standardized testing in our recent blog post, “Why Are Candidates Passing Your Standardized Language Test, But Still Underperforming?”

passing standardised tests but underperforming

Why Are Candidates Passing Your Standardized Language Test, But Still Underperforming?

How some companies are using pre-hire assessments to save resources and attract top talent?

The recruiting landscape has been permanently altered as AI-driven pre-hire assessments assert themselves as the future of the way we hire.

Modern recruitment practices incorporate pre-hire assessments to observe and assess various data that gives a clearer view of an applicant’s potential performance, testing candidates on the following criteria:

  • Is the applicant able to communicate clearly and effectively with your customers?
  • Is the applicant able to understand your customers without difficulty?
  • Is the applicant a good listener who pays attention to detail?
  • Does the applicant express empathy and use positive language when interacting with customers?
  • Does the applicant have skills gaps that could quickly be addressed with on-the-job training?  

Recruiting, screening, and hiring new employees takes time, and the wrong hiring decision can put a heavy strain on your resources. One source found that “more than 74% of employers say they’ve hired the wrong person for a position.” Losing new hires can significantly impact your entire team, resulting in lower productivity and morale and increased hiring costs. The same source stated that “companies lose an average of $15,000 on every bad hire. That number only increases as the salary of the worker goes up.” Considering the time investment required to advertise, recruit, screen, and onboard new employees, it is worthwhile to get it right.

The Benefits of Using Pre-Hire Candidate Assessment Testing

Pre-hire assessment testing has emerged as one of the most reliable means to measure the actual skills a candidate brings to the role. It eliminates the guesswork, human error, and possibility of dishonesty that comes with resumes and interviews. Pre-hire assessments have been shown to deliver the following benefits:

  • Improving the quality of hire
  • Reducing bias with standardized, validated measures
  • Increasing diversity by casting a wider net
  • Decreasing time to hire
  • Eliminating the barriers of scheduling and availability
  • Keeping candidates engaged
  • Increasing retention
  • Giving the candidate a preview of the job

Empowering your HR team to make better hiring decisions

Pre-hire assessments allow you to evaluate a candidate’s actual skills, not simply the activities they’ve listed on their resume. While we like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, the fact is that many applicants purposely embellish their resumes, exaggerating their abilities and accomplishments. This can lead to hiring an employee who is only superficially a good fit but lacks the skills required to perform well on the job.

Much like the margin for error present in resume screening, an in-person interview provides only a one-dimensional view of the candidate as a potential employee. Like resumes, candidates can oversell their skills during an interview to secure an offer. Interviews also leave room for bias and represent a considerable time investment for your HR team, especially in high-volume recruitment.

Using pre-hire assessments to carefully screen candidates based on a standardized set of skills benchmarked by your top-performing employees is one of the most effective ways to empower your hiring managers to make better hiring decisions. The use of AI-powered assessment and training technology saves time, so your HR team can focus on initiatives that drive employee wellness, productivity, and performance—helping you meet your KPIs and reach company-wide goals.

Want to learn more about pre-hire assessments and the future of recruiting? Contact us today, and let us help you find the best candidates.

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