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3 prescreening and assessment mistakes to avoid


Optimizing your candidate screening and selection process can minimize turnover, reduce risk of noncompliance and improve overall productivity.

Optimizing your candidate screening and selection process can minimize turnover, reduce risk of noncompliance and improve overall productivity.

Vetting candidates is a critical aspect of human resources – one that can influence everything from retention to productivity. So making sure the process is handled correctly and efficiently should be a top concern for all employers.

The problem is that too often, modern companies assume that relying on outdated and conventional methods of prescreening and assessment is sufficient.

Implementing the correct approach to pre-employment tests and assessments can be tricky: On one hand, you want to make sure you are thorough and strategic in your evaluations, consider the right factors and inquire about the appropriate matters. On the other, you don’t want to be overly critical, as doing so can lead to you passing on top talent based on things that shouldn’t hold as much weight in the decision-making process as you may have previously been led to believe.

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest mistakes employers and hiring managers make with prescreening and assessments, as well as simple ways to avoid them.

Mistake 1: Only considering hard skills
There are a handful of assessments to use that evaluate the skills and competencies of a candidate in key areas, such as an online computer skills tests and Microsoft Office testing. Then there are those that take it a step further to vet candidates applying for positions that use other specific types of software and programs.

Without a doubt, hard skills are important to consider. But it’s also helpful to look beyond these qualifications to consider other proficiencies and characteristics of applicants – such as soft skills and personality traits – to get a better sense of how that candidate might work with other team members, fit in with the corporate culture and show initiative to learn and grow.

Mistake 2: Being too broad or vague with reference checks
As Business 2 Community recently pointed out, although the majority (96 percent) of employers conduct reference checks, not many do so effectively. While this may be treated and perceived as a formality in the screening and hiring process, when approached correctly, it can also be leveraged as an opportunity for hiring managers to learn more about a candidate than they otherwise would – and use that information to make better, more informed hiring decisions.

For example, instead of simply confirming the applicant previously worked with the company and inquiring whether they were a good staff member, hiring managers should ask more specific questions about the candidate’s competencies and skills as they pertain to the role they are applying for.

Additionally, it may also be helpful to ask whether there are other managers or employees at the organization who worked often and directly with said candidate who may be able to offer even more insight.

This strategy can also help ensure that the applicant is not exaggerating his or her skills, experience or abilities – an issue Live Mint recently explained that more companies are using employee verification to fix.

Mistake 3: Failing to eliminate unconscious biases
As we have discussed in a previous blog post, biases in the hiring process – even when subconscious – can greatly harm talent acquisition success for organizations. Studies have found that diverse organizations tend to outperform others – and since people often tend to hire other people who look like them – failing to acknowledge and eliminate any and all possible instances of subconscious biases in the hiring process can hurt companies.

This is why businesses should take a blind approach to recruitment and hiring – something pre-employment tests can be particularly helpful with. By incorporating a variety of pre-screening and employment assessment tests into the process, employers make it more likely that they are hiring candidates based on their skills and competencies, not eliminating them based on unfair biases or assumptions.