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  • Writer's pictureRobert A. Dougan, M.A.


“Acquiring the right talent is the most important ingredient to growth. Hiring was—and still is—the most important thing we do.”

Marc Bennioff, CEO of Salesforce

Certainly, none would disagree with Marc Bennioff in his quote above. Many of us have made mistakes in hiring the wrong people, and often, these mistakes have been quite costly. The good news is that a lot of the time these mistakes can be avoided entirely. It all starts with addressing the selection phase in the hiring cycle, which many ignore entirely.

Selection or pre-employment test technology can be very helpful to better understand the quality of a potential candidate in the hiring process and decrease missed-high caliber hires. Typically, these tests are intended to help recruiters and hiring professionals select particularly strong candidates.

Unfortunately, many companies use candidate assessments either too early or too late in their hiring process, and as such, cannot truly take full advantage of the benefits of them. This is often because, especially for high-volume front-line roles, talent acquisition leaders view longer selection assessments as not candidate friendly and too costly—many range from $50 to $100 an assessment. Nevertheless, the cost of turnover in some of these roles is close to $15,000 per hire, so in actuality, these tests are an investment in your organization.

Let’s explore an example where one company used a comprehensive selection assessment as a part of their process for a front-line role. The total cost of the assessment for the year in the recruitment process was $50,000. However, at the end of the year, the company saw an improvement of 30% in short-term attrition rates, and when calculated, their savings totaled $496,000. This sounds like a very good investment the executives and shareholders alike would be happy about.


When choosing a selection assessment, you want to ensure the face validity is low, meaning it is harder for the candidate to determine what we are measuring, so they answer honestly and accurately. Gamified assessments, contrastingly, tend to have higher face validity, meaning it is easier for candidates to interpret and skew the test results.

In addition to ensuring the assessment has low face validity, make sure your assessment of choice has the ability to predict employee retention and on-the-job performance potential, particularly those specific to the role and environment you’re hiring for.

The selection phase is meant to be a thorough investigation to evaluate risk and predict performance and retention. When going through this phase, hiring professionals should not be aiming to eliminate candidates, but rather, selecting the right person or people for the role. In order to do so yourself, you’ll need psychometric depth, which means the questionnaire will be longer and more robust. If candidates really want the job, then they will invest their time in completing the assessment—it’s as simple as that. And if the candidates are willing because they truly want and think they are right for the job, why would you want to cut corners and risk costing the company thousands—if not millions of dollars—on a wrong hiring decision?


As previously mentioned, ensuring your pre-hire assessment has the ability to assess candidates for their on-the-job potential is crucial for overall success and retention. One of the ways an assessment can do so is through benchmarking.

Many strong pre-hire assessment providers will have a large database filled with data from previously completed assessments that can then be used to benchmark other candidates based on their potential in specific roles and environments. However, not all benchmarking is made and used equally; make sure you understand where this data came from and how the providers benchmark a candidate’s potential. A reliable provider will likely have a technical manual that will show the validity of the assessment. Using these in the pre-benchmark assessments is a great starting point to helping better predict strong candidates in the process.

However, if you are hiring often and have a large enough pool of existing hires for a specific role, then we would recommend carrying out a benchmark study. In this benchmark study, you would assess a group of your top and bottom performers to establish a benchmark based on the key scales that differentiate these two groups. This is the optimal way to create a benchmark, since this is specific to the top performers, whose work and potential you can replicate.

One of the biggest takeaways in this benchmarking exercise should be the difference between your top and bottom performers. Nevertheless, in some cases, top performers and bottom performers may have similar characteristics, so keep this in mind when carrying out your own benchmarking with your pre-hire assessment.


Above all, the quality of the candidate and their likelihood of staying long-term at an organization should be what is ingrained in the mind of a top quality recruiter/talent acquisition professional. Always remember that when hiring for long-term success and retention, the quality will always be more important to focus on than the quantity of candidates screened. It might be a tough hiring landscape out there, but it is never worth sacrificing the quality over the quantity of applicants screened.

If you are interested in learning more or purchasing pre-hire assessments for your business then please visit our website and contact us.

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