Almost all organizations engage in employee testing of one type or another. What many organizations don’t understand is almost all of them open you up to some type of potential liability should you be challenged. Selected and administered well they can be valuable tools in your candidate assessment process, but handled poorly they can cause you a whole host of problems.
Few can argue that Pre-employment physicals or drug screens are a bad idea. Even with many states, including California, legalizing marijuana, you may still preclude its use while at work, the same way you can insist that your employees not come to work drunk or impaired by the use of prescription drugs. Just because a substance is legal, does not mean it is OK be under the influence while at work. Give prospective candidates notice that you will require them to take a pre-employment physical. Many will simply choose not to apply.
Background screening is another “test” that few will argue with other than those who feel they have some antiquated right to privacy. Background checks will check driving records, misdemeanor and felony convictions. How you use this information gets a little trickier. While you can turn down a candidate who will be driving a company vehicle if they have DUI convictions because you can show a direct correlation between the offense and the job requirement, what about the person who is a 2 time convicted child offender and you have offered him/her a position within an development department? Can you show a relationship between the offense and the job requirement?
Skills testing can fall into multiple categories. There are on the job skills tests that are easy to validate. If the job requires someone to install HVAC systems and you ask them to install an HVAC system, the relationship and applicability are clear. This type of testing can also include basic grammar and math skills. The reasoning is that those that can construct a basic sentence with proper grammar and understand basic math are going to be better at their jobs whether they are being hired as an AP Specialist or a Customer Service rep. These relationships to job proficiency are fairly easy to understand, but be prepared to defend your decision, even with validated tests.
Aptitude tests are a gray area and only a handful of companies are using them. Their theory is that if they hire only those that score exceptionally well on the aptitude tests that they will be able to train them faster, they will catch on more quickly, they will be more creative in terms of finding efficiencies within their jobs. If you use Aptitude testing, be sure it is only one aspect of your hiring decisions. It would be easy to come under fire for adverse impact if you established a cut off whereby you would not accept applicants.
Quite a few companies use personality tests and there are many different versions, Myers-Briggs, DISC, Predictive Index. Personality tests can be helpful especially when you choose one like Predictive Index where you can create the profile for the job and then compare the profiles of the candidates to the job profile. These can be especially helpful when you have a team of people to hire. You want variety on your team, but complimentary personalities. There is no right or waring, pass of fail with a personality test. Each personality has its own pros and cons.
Define your testing strategy up front and ensure that you understand what you are hoping to accomplish with each one and how you will use the results.