Pre-Employment Tests: What You Need To Know

Pre-employment tests are now coming to the fore when vetting potential employees.  They’ve been around for a long time, in one form or another, but finding the most suitable person for a position has become more challenging as employers attempt to tune their work force.


They generally come in two forms: 1) an aptitude test to determine if you possess the skills (or at least the potential for learning the skills) for the position, and 2) a personality test to see how well you’ll integrate with the existing staff members.  For the sake of efficiency these are often combined into a single test.

These tests can actually streamline and extend past the benefits of the interview process.  Exam questions often address issues that the interviewer would normally raise in the course of discussions.  Employers find pre-employment tests advantageous because they don’t just show what an employee chooses to reveal; they illustrate what sometimes cannot be indicated through the spoken word.

Do I need to study?

Preparation as a form of studying is extremely beneficial.  Of course, there are many who take their chances and “wing it”, but when there is a plethora of information at your fingertips, it simply isn’t necessary (or advised) to enter into your pre-employment exam completely cold.  There are plenty of websites available that can help you prepare, and even have a practice run at a few sample questions.  Some simple internet research can assist you in locating the most applicable information for your test.

What can I expect?

Although aptitude questions may vary depending upon your vocation, here are just a few basic themes you can expect to encounter:

  • Abstract reasoning:  These questions assess your ability to swiftly recognize patterns, trends and relationships within groups of data; such as sales history or market research models.  This information alerts employers of your analytical and processing aptitude, as well as your ability to learn new skills.
  • Numerical skills:  This exam is not necessarily designed to measure your mathematical abilities, but your proficiency in utilizing numerical data to solve problems and form logical decisions.  Findings assist employers in ascertaining your adeptness in properly gauging progress and performance figures, as well as results of financial and analysis reports.
  • Verbal reasoning:  This is one of the more common portions, and you may encounter different types: 1) the easier version which includes analogies and basic completion of sentence structures, 2) the more difficult and complex version is usually presented to evaluate business professionals and graduates; it measures your written word and verbal comprehension, your ability to form accurate and logical conclusions, produce clear and organized written documents and reports, and your capacity to articulate simply and clearly in a business environment.

Why is there a personality test?

Through the personality test, your employer is capable of organizing your responses into categories which will assist them in predicting which candidates are the best fits for various jobs.  Employers can glean information from a personality test that they may not be able to gather during a job interview, which may be more focused on work experience and skill sets.

While many job-seekers approach the personality portion of a pre-employment test with a certain amount of trepidation, they should know that it is actually possible to prepare for this part of the exam. What you can expect to encounter are statement-based, forced choice, and open-ended questions.  A personality test basically measures both the ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ characteristics which would affect an employee’s ability to perform his or her job.  For instance, a question regarding your preference to engage in a team-oriented sport can indicate whether you would be best suited to working on your own or in a group setting.

It is important to remember that personality tests are not based on ‘right or wrong’ answers, rather they are to give your employer a glimpse of who you are as an employee and what role you will assume within the organization.

The Takeaway

In actuality, pre-employment tests are nothing to be anxious about; they simply allow thepre-employment-test-book-and-scantron-sheet-with-pencil employer to gain an understanding on just who they are hiring, and where that individual will fit within their organization.  Conversely, they also give the applicant a chance to answer questions in a written form where they have less pressure and the ability to organize and tune their answers.  Ultimately, pre-employment exams are beneficial to both the employer, as well as the employee.

By Fred Coon, CEO


Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200