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Effects of Pre-Employment Attention to Detail Assessments in the Public Sector

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In recent years, government agencies (Department of Justice, ABA, Office of Special Council) have investigated corrupt activity in the public sector that was either caused by, or in some way related to, poor employment screening practices.

A wide variety of tactics and resources were recommended to help combat job application fraud for organizations, such as: designing a risk-based employment screening framework, assigning roles and duties for employment screening, enhancing the quality of employment screening checks, and screening non-permanent workers.

Unfortunately, resume falsification is both costly and widespread. Between 20% and 30% of job applications, on average, contain some type of misleading information, ranging from small omissions to outright lies.

Undetected employment application fraud might jeopardize merit-based hiring, resulting in a new hire who lacks the necessary integrity or experience for the job. This can have a number of negative consequences for an organization, including increased health and safety concerns, poorer public service delivery, and a loss of public trust and confidence.

Furthermore, after being given access to an agency’s assets, employees who commit resume falsification may be emboldened to commit further crimes of corruption. One of the ways to combat the issue is the introduction of pre-employment tests, which are being used by companies to determine the candidates’ abilities. This helps ensure that they are good hires for the company or the agency, which should result in reduced employee turnover.

In this article, we cover:

Pre-Employment Testing in the Public & Private Sector

Pre-employment tests serve the commercial sector, large organizations, and their HR departments in many ways, and the same holds true for the public sector. Although clerical work is common in government institutions, there are other skills that are desirable, beyond those basic skills. To streamline the hiring process, minimize unconscious bias and bad hires, and keep a lid on recruitment costs, hiring processes should be standardized across all job positions.

There are a variety of pre-employment tests available for public sector employers to choose from. Multiple tests may be required depending on the agency’s demands and job criteria, the type of candidate, and the open job role an agency is trying to fill. Personality tests, aptitude tests, integrity tests, skills tests, emotional intelligence tests, industry knowledge tests, cognitive ability tests, physical ability tests, and others are some of the tests offered. Some of these tests are pre-made and ready to be used on-demand, however, they can be customized to better meet the needs of a particular employer. This ensures that potential hires are properly tested before ever being employed.

Colin Madigan, talent acquisition manager at G2, was asked about the advantages of pre-employment testing. According to Madigan, assessments are one of the most powerful predictors of future performance, and they establish an objective element of the process. He also highlights that pre-employment testing is “incredibly useful for high applicant or true entry-level roles where an additional filter is necessary.”

When it comes to US-based companies, the statistics back up those claims. Pre-employment tests are being used in the hiring process in the US quite frequently:

  1. 80% of Fortune 500 companies use pre-employment tests.
  2. 87% of employers believe that job applicants make false claims on their resumes.
  3. 91% of hiring managers are certain that cognitive ability pre-employment tests forecast job success.

Pre-employment tests have a number of benefits, including saving money by eliminating recruiting errors and enhancing the productivity and efficiency of government employees. They’re also efficient because they don’t add time to the hiring process – a single test may take an applicant no more than 10 minutes to complete.

Why is Attention to Detail Important?

For most administrative and clerical jobs, being familiar with technology, such as the Microsoft Office Suite, is not enough. There is another crucial skill that should not be left out. Strong attention to detail is a professional skill that boosts efficiency and production while reducing errors. Detail orientation is essential for producing high-quality work, which is why it is a highly sought-after skill in the employment market, regardless of the sector.

Businesses and agencies know how important it is for their employees to be attentive to details, as their business, reputation, and daily operations depend on it. Attention to detail is just not general attentiveness when it comes to spelling and grammar. It simply refers to getting the small things right, especially when it’s taxpayers’ dollars on the line.

Attention to detail examples also include avoiding errors in names, titles and other basic information included in a proposal. It refers to being careful with calculations so there are no inaccurate prices in the balance sheets. Some employees may overlook these mistakes, but the truth is that such errors will make any work appear mediocre. If a co-worker notices repeated errors such as these, they may have less confidence in other work submitted.

Some mistakes caused by the lack of attention to detail have proven to be quite costly. The State of New Jersey filed for a grant known as the Race to the Top in 2010. Chris Christie, the state’s then-governor, made sure that a midlevel official had completed the application paperwork. However, incorrect data was collected and exchanged, resulting in the state submitting its 2010 school budgets rather than the required 2008 and 2009 budgets. The state was denied the grant, and the error cost the state $469 million.

This is just one of many instances where poor attention to detail led to disastrous consequences. All private and public sector employers should consider implementing pre-employment tests to ensure that their employees never run the risk of making such mistakes.

Attention to Detail in the Workplace

For tasks where the impacts of a mistake are very severe or difficult to correct, attention to detail is a critical need. Having this ability is what can separate a regular employee from a stellar employee. Employers actively seek candidates who are able to identify minute details so as to produce detailed and accurate work. It could mean successfully noticing a single erroneous spelling in an ocean of words.

Public sector employees deal with a large amount of data in the form of spreadsheets, data entry, emails, scheduling, and filing official forms and documents. Without attention to detail, mistakes would easily be overlooked. This emphasizes the need for screening and testing for the appropriate skill set for any job role that requires employees to remain attentive at all times.

Employees with exceptional attention to detail skills might take on more responsibilities such as project management, team leadership, and mentoring new employees. Certain jobs in the public sector are responsible for drafting legally enforceable contracts, with inaccuracies posing a major risk to all parties involved. In the public sector, testing for attention to detail abilities is critical, because those employees are the ones who must perform government mandates.

How Remote Work Culture is Changing the Workforce

Despite the fact that working from home used to be a luxury offered by just a select few employers, it has become a common occurence for many organizations. By 2025, approximately 70% of the working population will be working remotely at least five days a month, according to some estimates. While 2020 may be seen as the year of remote work, some analysts believe it is only the beginning, since the trend has continued in 2021.

According to a poll conducted by Enterprise Technology Research, the percentage of workers who work from home on a permanent basis has quadrupled in 2021. In an article by Forbes, Erik Bradley – ETR’s principal engagement strategist confirms that “the productivity statistic proves that remote work works.”

A recent survey for CFOs by Gartner reports that more than two-thirds of CFOs plan to permanently transfer staff to remote work. Large technology corporations are leading the way. Employees at San Francisco-based Twitter were notified in May that they may work from home forever. Square, a technology company managed by the founder of Twitter, has implemented a similar policy that allowed staff to work from their homes indefinitely, even after offices reopen.

However, even though remote work might have some benefits, it also comes with a few drawbacks. Employees will increasingly operate without direct supervision as they work remotely, emphasizing the significance of attention to detail as a critical skill. Consequently, there will be a bigger risk for making mistakes, which speaks volumes about the necessity of pre-employment tests in the hiring process.

Will the Hybrid Model Work Better for the Public Sector?

In the private sector, a hybrid approach is appealing not only to job seekers but may also help companies increase efficiency and lower expenses. According to a 2020 Statista study, more than half of businesses cited higher productivity as the primary benefit of remote employment. Furthermore, .according to Global Workplace Analytics, organizations that allow employees to work from home half of the time save an average of $11,000 per employee, thanks to enhanced productivity, fewer real estate expenses, lower absence rate, and attrition.

The situation is not too different in the public sector either. The Government Property Agency (GPA) recently polled 25,000 federal officials and discovered that hybrid working is a major preference for post-pandemic working patterns. It was discovered that the civil servants polled did not believe their productivity had diminished as a result of working remotely. A significant behavioral shift is taking place, with a growing need for more modern, flexible, and digitally native workforces. The wheels are already in motion for hybrid-working in the public sector, as the poll results show.

The ability of the public sector employees to adjust to the new (hybrid) style of employment will come with increased implementation of software solutions specifically made for the public sector. Digitalization, automation and interconnectedness of government agencies will pave the way and make the hybrid model a reality.

Such software solutions might be able to aid employees’ attention to detail abilities by utilizing advanced spell checks, numbers and data checks, and more. However, employers need to be aware that too much exposure to too much technology hinders the attention of employees, as reported in a BBC article.


For businesses and government bodies, resume falsification has become a major concern. Not only is it expensive, but it’s also quite common. On average, around one-fifth of all applications will contain some form of false information, making it difficult for hiring managers to determine a potential candidate’s true competence or skill level.

Because mistakes in the public sector (which is reliant on government funding) can be extremely costly and visible, there is an increasing demand for attention to detail pre-employment tests. These tests measure the skill set of all employees, particularly those who perform everyday administrative activities, including the education field.

Employees with excellent attention to detail skills consistently generate work that is highly accurate and error-free. Such employees are vital to any government organization since they help to ensure that the public sector runs smoothly and without costly errors. Making sure highly skilled personnel are in important positions is one of the ways to consistently improve the state of confidence in the public sector.

EmployTest specializes in creating pre-employment assessments to help organizations identify top talent in their hiring pool – download a free sample of our attention to detail test to learn more.