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Nov 04, 2021

Don’t hire the wrong person: 2 easy ways to reduce the risk

One of the things many managers dread about starting the recruitment process is making ‘the wrong decision’. For most organisations, the investment in a new hire is extensive in terms of time and money. Typically, it will be at least three months before that employee is fully productive and unhappy new recruits who don’t fit in with the company culture or struggle with the requirements of the role can be a drain on HR resources.

We recommend that pre-employment testing should be an essential part of your hiring process, even if you are a small business or not for profit. Employee turnover is a concern for most managers and one of the common comments we hear from clients is: ‘she turned up and we found out in the first week that she couldn’t do what she said she could’.


In this article, we look at some simple and clever tests that are useful for organisations of all sizes. You can use the same hiring tools as the big firms, without a corporate budget. 


Two things you can do to reduce hiring risk: skills and aptitude tests.


Skills tests are those that test an actual skill. For example, typing speed, level of expertise in Word or Excel or data entry accuracy. A candidate is asked to do a series of exercises and their speed and accuracy are tracked.


Aptitude tests are more about character and personality, so they give insights into things like a candidate’s patience, their determination, their ability to influence. There’s no right or wrong answer, but aptitude tests can be helpful in revealing a candidate’s strengths and suitability to certain roles. For example, a customer service officer on a helpline should score quite well in patience and commitment to resolving customer issues.


Whether a candidate actively applied for your role or was delivered by a recruitment agency, an assessment as early as possible in the process costs less than $100 and can pay dividends in terms of time to hire, longevity and team productivity.


Three reasons you should consider pre-employment testing


1. Testing helps you see which candidates have the strongest skills


With various studies revealing as many as 30% of candidates lie on their resumes, a skills test is a good indication of whether you are choosing a new recruit who will hit the ground running. From retail to administration roles, a candidate’s skill level on numeracy, grammar, data entry or typing speed can set them apart from the competition.  


We had a client recently who had two candidates present well at an interview for an order entry role. The interview panel weighed up the various pros and cons of each candidate but were at a stalemate as to who they should offer the role to. A $25 data entry test showed one candidate was twice as fast as the other, with higher accuracy too. Whilst both candidates could probably have done the job, one was a clear standout, enabling the hiring team to make a decision with confidence.


Aptitude tests also play a valuable role in helping you establish areas for your candidate to develop and how easy it might be for them to train them. Personality tests can also help you assess harmony within the team and highlight likely personality clashes.


Another client recently was looking for a new Sales Manager and when it came down to the last two candidates, succession planning was part of the consideration set. Which of the two had the best potential to move from a regional role into a national seat? A $95 management aptitude test gave them some insights into the leadership, adaptability and resilience of both candidates. This led to a further line of questioning in the third interview, which helped the team to make a decision with the future in mind.


2. Testing creates an objective element in the selection process


Recruiter bias, whether conscious or not, influences many hiring decisions. The use of pre-employment assessments helps you to review each candidate’s strengths on their individual merits and assess against the organisation’s need, without undue influence from anyone in HR or the management team.


Regardless of your diversity strategy, objective testing is a sensible risk mitigation strategy against claims of discrimination arising from an interview or recruitment process.   


3. Tests can help you reduce time-to-hire and turnover


We’ve all been there: the team is swamped and you just want someone in the seat now. But the real cost of putting the wrong person in a role can be decreased team productivity, errors and resentment from existing staff. If your new hire doesn’t have the aptitude necessary to respond to your style of training and quickly learn all the requirements of the role, their own morale will affect their performance.