Trial lock

This Research is for Members Only

Not a member? Unlock a free sample of our research now!

Already a member?

Sign in now

Talent Acquisition icon

Design a Pre-Hire Test to Select the Best

Test competencies, not personality, to select quality candidates.

Unlock a Free Sample

View Storyboard

Solution Set Storyboard Thumbnail


  • McLean & Company conducted in-depth interviews with HR professionals, subject matter experts, employees, and managers to better understand how to design pre-hire tests to contribute to better candidate selection.

Your Challenge

  • Candidate pre-hire testing can seem daunting due to the possible legal implications, variety of choices in the marketplace, and the lack of time to carry out testing by HR and managers.
  • While personality tests were common in the past, they have come under increasing scrutiny and are often challenged under the law.
  • Competency-based pre-hire testing as a part of a comprehensive selection process, however, can be difficult to develop and implement.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • Competency-based pre-hire tests can improve the chances of hiring the best candidates by ensuring they possess the right set of competencies to serve in their role and be a good organizational fit.
  • Do not implement a pre-hire test as a solution to a broken talent acquisition program. First assess if you have the correct elements in place to make pre-hire testing useful.
  • Measure candidates’ competencies by either assessing their knowledge or demonstration of them before setting the exact type of test that will be used.

Impact and Result

  • Maximize the success of the pre-hire test by ensuring that critical elements of the talent acquisition process, such as hiring manager involvement and reference checks, are already in place.
  • Design a valid pre-hire test by tying the test to competencies that are critical to the job group or role being tested for, and having hiring managers and employees within the organization test it.
  • Implement the pre-hire test by outlining where and how the test fits into your talent acquisition process and communicating it throughout the process to candidates to build a more positive candidate experience.

Research & Tools

1. Make the case for pre-hire testing

Brainstorm how pre-hire testing can help reduce the negative impact of bad hires.

2. Take stock of current selection practices

Assess whether your current pre-hire test is optimizing or undermining the selection process.

3. Design the pre-hire test

Select the type of pre-hire test that will be designed.

4. Validate the pre-hire test

Set the plan for validating your pre-hire test.

5. Build the pre-hire testing implementation plan

Incorporate the selection process into your pre-hire test.

Guided Implementations

This guided implementation is a five call advisory process.

Guided Implementation #1 - Assess the environment to develop the pre-hire test

Call #1 - Discuss project rationale with one of our advisors
Call #2 - Work with an analyst to determine if pre-hire testing is a good fit for your talent acquisition program
Call #3 - Review the roles that will have a pre-hire test

Guided Implementation #2 - Develop and implement the pre-hire test

Call #1 - Get expert help with designing the test once you have determined you require a pre-hire test
Call #2 - Get expert help with implementing the pre-hire test

Onsite Workshop

Discuss This Workshop

Book Your Workshop

Onsite workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn't enough, we offer low-cost onsite delivery of our project workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a roadmap in place to complete your project successfully.

Module 1: Assess the Environment to Develop the Pre-Hire Test

The Purpose

  • Understand the rationale for developing a competency-based pre-hire test.
  • Learn what key elements of talent acquisition are required for a pre-hire test to be developed.
  • Set up a design team.
  • Identify competencies to be tested for.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Project buy-in and support from stakeholders.
  • Understanding of what elements are in place or missing for the pre-hire test to be successful.
  • An assembly of experts to develop the test.
  • Competencies to base the test design and development on.




Determine the impact of bad hires.

  • Cost of bad hires on the organization.

Brainstorm how pre-hire testing can help reduce the negative impact of bad hires.

  • Estimated cost reduction.

Identify barriers to success and start developing solutions.

  • Solutions for barriers to success.

Determine what basic elements you need.

  • Plan to address any missing elements to support the success of the pre-hire test.

Assess whether your current pre-hire test is optimizing or undermining.

  • Understanding of how well the current pre-hire test functions.

Finalize the stakeholders that will contribute pre-hire testing.

  • Pre-hire test design team.

Determine the purpose of pre-hire testing.

  • Purpose statement to guide development of the pre-hire test.

Select the competencies to be included in the pre-hire test.

  • List of competencies to be covered in the pre-hire test.

Plan for resources.

  • Pre-hire test budget.

Module 2: Develop and Implement the Pre-Hire Test

The Purpose

  • Design the pre-hire test.
  •  Validate the pre-hire test.
  • Build the plan to implement the test.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Content built for the pre-hire test.
  • Plan for how to ensure validity of the pre-hire test.
  • Well-integrated pre-hire test within the talent acquisition process.




Determine what components of competencies will be tested.

  • Specific components to be included in the pre-hire test.

Select the type of pre-hire test.

  • The type of pre-hire test that will be designed.

Decide to develop in-house or outsource and develop questions and activities.

  • Decision to develop the test in-house or to outsource.

Set the plan for validating your pre-hire test.

  • Plan for validating the test.

Incorporate the selection process into your pre-hire test.

  • Process map for where the pre-hire test fits into the talent acquisition process.

Plan for how to communicate testing to candidates for a positive experience.

  • Communication plan.

Search Code: 58072
Published: March 5, 2013
Last Revised: December 15, 2014