Pre-employment testing is a great way to speed up the recruitment process and compare equally qualified applicants side-by-side.

But the results of one test are not always the best indicator of a candidate’s true potential. Including a hiring test in your recruitment process can also be costly and time-consuming, since you have to develop, administer, and evaluate the tests yourself.

That is, unless you enlist the help of savvy employment testing software like Criteria. Instead of creating hiring tests from scratch, you’ll have access to five types of employment tests with dozens of different styles to perfectly suit your open positions.

Today, we’re going to share with you the key steps you can take with Criteria by your side, to create and implement the perfect hiring test.

5 Steps to Create a Hiring Test

Follow the step-by-step instructions below to create a hiring test:

  1. Identify your ideal candidate
  2. Determine which tests to use
  3. Create the hiring test
  4. Administer the test
  5. Analyze test results

The Easy Parts of Creating a Hiring Test

The great thing about using a hiring test within your recruitment process is it can replace conducting dozens of face-to-face interviews. It can also accelerate the hiring process for roles that have drawn a lot of interest, by narrowing down suitable candidates. These are major time-savers.

Tests are also more objective than other forms of assessment such as unstructured interviews, resume screenings, or phone interviews. If you’ve struggled with keeping bias out of your hiring process in the past, including a test is a great way to rein that in.

Finally, hiring tests are the same for all candidates. This means you can easily compare candidates’ skills and performance side-by-side.

Creating and administering hiring tests is made even easier with a savvy assessment tool like Criteria.

Criteria builds multidimensional assessments, backed by science and delivered through a user-friendly platform, to help you get the most out of your talent pool. You’ll have access to a database of hundreds of different tests such as cognitive aptitude, personality, emotional intelligence, risk, and skills.

Criteria assessment tool homepage.

You can combine as many tests as you like to create your own hiring test, and test as many candidates as you like at any stage in the hiring process with unlimited testing. To top it all off, Criteria integrates smoothly with some of the top recruiting software such as Breezy HR, Greenhouse, and Workable, so you can keep candidate data all in one place!

The Difficult Parts of Creating a Hiring Test

One of the more challenging things when devising hiring tests in your recruitment process is that these tests rarely give a complete picture of a candidate’s capabilities.

For example, job knowledge tests are great for assessing job-specific skills. But they don’t take into account a candidate’s willingness to learn or how quickly they could learn that skill given the opportunity. Personality tests, on the other hand, may show which applicants would mesh well with your current team but not judge whether those applicants have the right level of experience for the job.

Furthermore, you can expect candidates to occasionally stretch the truth of their answers in some tests such as integrity or work ethics tests. The candidate wants to paint themselves in the best possible light, we all do! So it’s important to keep this in mind when examining the results of these types of tests.

Finally, when creating hiring tests, you have to be careful not to break anti-discrimination laws. Using software like Criteria, which keeps tests within Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines is key to staying out of trouble here.

Step 1: Identify Your Ideal Candidate

In order to create a hiring test that will accurately capture the information you want to glean from candidates, you first need to identify what the ideal candidate looks like.

Create an Ideal Candidate Avatar

Just as you would create an ideal client avatar when starting your business, creating a candidate avatar will help you to dial in on what the ideal candidate actually looks like.

What kind of skills or experience does the candidate bring to the table? What kind of personality traits should they exhibit to ensure a smooth transition into the role? What have they done in their career so far? What are their goals? What sets them apart from typical candidates?

This exercise will not only help you to create a targeted hiring test but will also help to hone the entire recruitment process.

Define Skill Requirements

The ideal candidate will possess a specific skill set that will be made up of both hard and soft skills.

Hard skills include things like the number of years of experience within certain job roles, education requirements, and certifications or qualifications required to be eligible for the role.

Soft skills include things like interpersonal skills, communication skills, organizational skills, problem-solving abilities, and any personality traits required to successfully handle the role.

Criteria explore our skills assessments page.

Your ideal candidate avatar should mimic the advertised job description and vice versa. After all, you want to be attracting the ideal candidate from the start of the hiring process.

Step 2: Determine Which Tests to Use

Enlisting robust assessment software such as Criteria means you’ll have access to tons of different types of tests. But you’ll still have to decide which tests you want to use, how many tests you’ll include, and when you’ll have candidates complete them.

Choose the Right Style of Test

Determining which tests to use will ultimately depend on the role you’re recruiting for. But you need to take this a step further by choosing the right style for each test. Someone who is mathematically minded may not do well on a test that requires critical or philosophical thinking–even if they might be a fantastic candidate otherwise.

Criteria offer eight different styles of cognitive aptitude tests, for example, ranging from general testing to mechanical aptitude testing, and also tests cognitive ability in the form of games. This style variation is the same for all its test types, in case testing for cognitive ability isn’t a priority for you.

If you’re not sure which test to use, Criteria allows you to search for the best test by industry or job role to find the best fit for your business.

Decide How Many Tests to Administer

Collecting a well-rounded set of data without administering every test in the book is a fine line to walk.

Ideally, you want to combine multiple tests so that you can measure candidates across multiple dimensions. But including too many tests is a sure way to deter candidates from continuing with the application process.

As a rule of thumb, Criteria recommends limiting overall testing time to 40 minutes, with two to three different tests completed within the timeframe. This will allow you to collect a decent amount of data while limiting the number of candidates that drop out due to burdensome testing requirements.

Criteria cognitive aptitude view tests and other test options screen

If you feel further testing is required, you can wait until later in the hiring process to administer the second round of tests to the remaining candidates.

Determine When to Test in Your Hiring Process

Once again, determining when to include your hiring tests in the recruitment process will depend on multiple factors.

If it’s a role with limited applicants that require candidates to exhibit specific skill sets or critical thinking skills, including it after an initial interview would suffice. The test is simply to confirm skills already discussed in the interview.

However, if it’s a role that has gleaned tons of interest from similar candidates, including the hiring test after application submission but before interviews is a great way to quickly limit the interview field.

Step 3: Create the Hiring Test

Once you’ve established a clear understanding of what the ideal candidate looks like and which tests are appropriate for your business, it’s time to create the hiring test.

Create a Branded Assessment Experience

In Criteria, you will be creating a branded assessment experience for your candidates.

Criteria branded assessment experience for candidates page.

Take the time to add your logo and branding style to Criteria’s assessment platform to establish a cohesive, on-brand experience for your candidates from the get-go.

Establish Validity

Although Criteria has established its own validity for its own tests, it’s important to establish validity within your own organization. This will help you assess whether the candidate is a great fit for the role and how they compare to existing employees in similar roles.

You can do this by asking existing employees to complete the test. The results will provide you with a benchmark to determine your internal minimum and maximum cut-off scores, to filter out unqualified candidates.

Step 4: Administer The Test

This step will occur naturally when you start the hiring process. But there are still some key things to keep in mind when it comes time to disseminate the hiring tests.

Allow Time for Test Preparation

Ideally, your applicants will already be aware that pre-employment testing is part of your recruitment process. But that doesn’t mean that you should just spring it on them.

Many candidates appreciate the time to get familiar with the type of test, and even complete a few practice tests to increase their chances of doing well.

Instead of immediately sending the test to candidates and giving them short notice to complete it, send communication of when the test will be sent to candidates and what type of test it is, so they have reasonable time to prepare.

Set a Test Timeframe

Setting a timeframe for when candidates must complete the test is essential in maintaining the projected timeline of your recruitment process.

As a rule of thumb, you should allow candidates a minimum of 72 hours to complete the test once the test window has opened. You can extend this timeline as you see fit. For example, a more lenient timeframe would be in the region of one week.

Manage Candidate Pipeline

You’ll likely need to chase after a few candidates to complete their test within the allotted testing timeframe.

Criteria managing candidate pipeline features.

Within the Criteria platform, you’ll find a summary of each candidate’s progress in the candidate pipeline. This allows you to easily identify which candidates need to be reminded to complete their test. You can even send them email reminders straight from the Criteria dashboard.

Step 5: Analyze Test Results

When the testing window is closed, it’s time to analyze the test results and progress to the next stage of your hiring process.

Criteria allow you to monitor test results in real-time by choosing to get test reports straight into your inbox every time a candidate completes the test. If you prefer to wait until the testing window is closed, Criteria creates score reports that are easy to understand and full of actionable insights.

Compare Candidate Results

Compare your candidates side-by-side based on their scores in Criteria. You can even include a custom baseline using results from your current employees.

Criteria will conveniently determine which candidates are a match for your organization based on their scores and summarize the key information collected from each person, all in one place.

Criteria comparing candidates results feature.

Once you’ve determined the best candidates, you can dive into their detailed score reports to get to know your candidates better before progressing to the next round.

Download Data Into Recruitment Software

You can also download all the key data Criteria has collected for you, into existing software such as Breezy HR, Workable, and Greenhouse. This will allow you to refer to the test results in further communications with each candidate throughout the remainder of the recruitment process.