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How Using Pre-Employment Microsoft Office Testing Will Help You Reduce Mis-Hires


Organizations can no longer afford to hire the wrong people in today’s competitive economy. Each year, businesses lose billions of dollars in lost productivity and missed opportunities due to a poor hiring process. It’s no exaggeration to say that the costs of recruiting, interviewing, training, and onboarding a new employee pile up quickly.

A “mis-hire” is someone who was employed or promoted from within the company but does not meet the company’s standards nor has the required abilities. When this occurs in a managerial role, it’s projected that the cost is at least five times the person’s annual salary, and sometimes even more.

Companies should be actively looking for ways to improve the hiring process. When it comes to reducing mis-hires, using pre-employment Microsoft Office testing to properly screen candidates and determine whether or not they are appropriate for the post can be extremely advantageous.

In this article, we discuss:

Employment Statistics for Clerical and Admin Workers

Zippia is a company that uses a database of 30 million profiles to analyze demographics and statistics for clerical workers in the United States. For accuracy, estimates are cross-checked against BLS, Census, and current job vacancies data. After an extensive investigation and analysis, Zippia’s data science team discovered that the demand for clerical workers has skyrocketed in the past decade.

This is not surprising because more people now work in offices, and the demand for clerical skills has grown. For anybody who works in an office, excellent clerical and admin skills are essential to performing the daily tasks. These skills are the abilities they use to keep an office running smoothly and efficiently. These are the administrative duties that need to be done hourly in office settings, such as meeting scheduling and record maintenance.

Regardless of the job title, most clerical and admin work will require the use of Microsoft Office applications, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, at some point. It would be very difficult to function without these programs because almost everyone is familiar with them. As a result, before recruiting a new clerical worker, it is critical to conduct intermediate computer skills testing. Selecting properly will reduce churn, turnover, and employment expenditures – as discussed in our previous article “Is There Still a Need for a Microsoft Office Skills Test?“.

The Costs of Losing Employees

Employee turnover is a significant corporate risk. It’s a cost that must be considered, even at the beginning of the hiring process. The goal is to attract excellent employees who will perform well and stay with the company for many years and employers must play an active role in keeping the employees engaged. Lack of engagement, no matter the reason, will increase turnover and all of the costs that go along with it.

The average yearly turnover rate across all industries is 19%, which includes both voluntary and involuntary turnover. The rate of turnover varies substantially depending on the industry. With a turnover rate of 20.9%, technology companies are in serious jeopardy, ranking fourth after retail, manufacturing, and consumer goods.

The cost of turnover is enormous. Losing an employee is estimated to cost 1.5-2 times the employee’s income. The financial burden varies depending on the individual’s level of seniority. It costs an average of $1,500 per employee for hourly workers. The cost of technical professions can rise to 100-150% of the wage. C-suite change can cost up to 213% of a person’s income.

Although there are a variety of reasons that contribute to employee turnover, some of which are voluntary while some are not, businesses should make a conscious effort to minimize hiring mistakes, especially when there are tools to help increase the likelihood of hiring success.

Having Self-Sufficient Employees for Remote Work

Employees that have been effectively trained tend to complete their tasks faster. The reasons for training staff are obvious and include reducing errors, improving work quality, providing better customer service, avoiding legal or regulatory liabilities, and more. Increased employee efficiency, on the other hand, is one of the most powerful motivators.

With more companies now allowing employees to work from home, either full-time or hybrid, the concept of training and onboarding is evolving. The value of self-sufficiency is becoming critical. Employees that are employed remotely and perform remote work must be able to learn on their own.

Employees who can solve their own problems are more likely to recall what they’ve learned, feel more secure in their talents, and free up time for their managers to focus on higher-level tasks. Independently checking if job applicants have the abilities that they claim is an important step toward identifying those most skilled applicants, before you hire them.

How Important It Is to Find Employees with Clerical Skills

Employees with outstanding clerical and admin abilities help a firm at its most basic work level, adding value, efficiency, and momentum to their work efforts. Small clerical errors (such as dropped commas or misplaced papers) might result in a loss of money or embarrassment for the firm, which is why even basic computer skills testing is essential.

There can be significant dangers associated if a new hire has solid industry knowledge, but weak clerical skills. They could, for example, incorrectly report and record financial or other crucial information. If this goes undetected, the company could lose money, energy, and momentum in the marketplace.

Even worse, employees tend to overestimate their knowledge. This is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect, and it applies to everyone, regardless of what skills are discussed.

With the knowledge of Microsoft Office skills being of such vital importance for clerical positions, pre-employment Microsoft Office testing should now be used to screen for the real work expertise before allowing an applicant to interview. 

Collaborative Work Skills are Essential for Administrative Work

As work is no longer a physical location where employees go to, and in-person interactions are rapidly becoming computerized, remote collaboration is essential in the workplace.  After all, we’re less likely to be sitting around a conference table any time in the next few years.

Even though there are certain challenges when it comes to collaboration it still helps workers thrive in an environment that is becoming increasingly scattered and computerized. Employees can cooperate more easily, prioritize their activities, and create better relationships, no matter where they are.

Virtualization and cloud computing have made it easier for employees to collaborate, especially with Microsoft Office programs like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Using shared papers and co-authoring, it is now possible to encourage transparency between departments.

Maintaining file organization and ensuring that all team members have the most recent versions for collaborative editing can help keep a project on track. Employees with limited knowledge of Microsoft Office programs cost firms more in today’s market, and that lack of knowledge can cause a drag on productivity.

How to Use the Tests as a Jumping Point for Selecting an Employee

While most people are comfortable with technology in a personal context, using Office programs in a work environment requires an upgraded skillset. It’s still necessary to screen new hires to make sure they have the skills or to at least know what level of additional training will be required. The less time spent on training, the more money the company will save.

New potential hires should be tested for computer knowledge of tasks that are frequently used at the hiring company. If an organization utilizes Microsoft Office, a thorough Microsoft Word assessment test will verify whether a new hire has the necessary skills. Hiring managers should ensure that candidates can type, edit, present, or input data quickly and accurately to the level required by the position.

Choosing the Test for Your Needs

Through the power of pre-employment tests, HR teams can test proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite. As multiple programs are a part of the Office package, a company might want to use a:

Microsoft Word Assessment Test

The Microsoft Word assessment test measures a candidate’s ability to open, save, protect, close, and print a document using the fundamental features of Word. It assesses their ability to use formatting and page layout tools, as well as the collaborative and solo editing software. It also assesses how well candidates can use tables, graphs, photos, objects, footnotes, and page numbers in a paper.

This test can help you find applicants who have great Microsoft Word skills and can work alone to plan out and format papers correctly, as well as cooperate with others to share information and enhance projects. These applicants understand how to use Word’s many capabilities efficiently and effectively to achieve the needed results.

Microsoft Excel Assessment Test

Adequate Microsoft Excel skills can be quite beneficial to a company. Microsoft Excel makes the storing and recording of basic data simple, from making reports to analyzing data, and from completing computations to creating graphs and infographics.

Candidates with strong Excel skills can quickly and accurately generate spreadsheets and program computations to discover solutions. They will use the software to organize data appropriately for use cases and to develop visual representations that make it easier for readers to assimilate data insights.

Microsoft Outlook Assessment Test

Candidates’ grasp of fundamental email functionalities and general email etiquette for proper conversations is assessed by the Microsoft Outlook test. It assesses candidates’ abilities to properly use Microsoft Outlook as well as their ability to manage their workflow and cooperate with others via online meetings and appointments.

This test will help you discover applicants who can compose appropriate emails for specific situations, the recipients, and the desired outcome in typical work scenarios. You’ll also discover applicants who can use Microsoft Outlook tools and capabilities to speed up email processing and adhere to best standards while communicating with others via email.

Microsoft PowerPoint Assessment Test

The Microsoft PowerPoint test assesses a candidate’s ability to create a compelling slide deck with the appropriate flow and structure to meet a goal, as well as their technical ability to effectively use PowerPoint’s advanced features and objects.

This screening test will assist in identifying potential hires who can make visually appealing and persuasive presentations targeted to specific objectives to improve results. These candidates should excel in promoting the message and objectives in a way that is important to a brand and resonates well with each audience.

How to Deal With the Candidates Who Don’t Score Well

Pre-employment tests are valuable because they assist recruiters sort through the candidate pool in an objective, non-biased way. But what about the candidates who don’t score well?

Pre-employment Microsoft Office testing and other pre-employment tests are an important part of a hiring decision, but they should not be the sole deciding factor.  Interviews (group, phone, virtual), industry experience, references, and education level should also contribute to the hiring decision.

It can happen that the perfect candidate does not have the required level of computer proficiency. Instead of rejecting the candidate, another option would be to plan for more intensive training for them, as part of the onboarding process.


Solid technology skills have become a critical requirement for workers over the past decade. It’s even more important now, with the possibility of more employees working remotely from home.  There won’t be co-workers in the next cubicle, ready to assist when a question comes up.

These skills are especially important when it comes to job roles that require collaboration between different teams.  Lack of skills, for just one person, can reduce the productivity of the entire team.

Microsoft Office programs are still the most widely used business applications and knowledge of each of the programs is a necessity for most job applicants. Pre-employment Microsoft Office testing of your job applicants will increase your odds of making a great hiring decision, with the net result being an employee that will be with you for years to come.

EmployTest specializes in developing pre-employment tests for public sector (government) companies and non-profits. Our pre-employment tests can assist in identifying top talent and screening candidates before the interview process – download a free sample of our Microsoft Office skills test to learn more about our process.