What Pre-Employment Tests Are Used in the US?

There are more than 3,000 different employment and pre-employment tests on the U.S. market. Tens of millions of applicants take such tests every year. The employment testing and screening is a $500 million-a-year industry with an annual growth rate over 10%.

Pre-employment tests differ by the testing areas. The types of pre-employment tests and procedures may include cognitive tests, physical ability tests, sample job tasks, medical inquiries and physical examination, personality and integrity tests, criminal background checks, credit checks, performance appraisals and other tests and screening techniques.

Under the law, all of those tests should be done in a non-discriminatory manner . In addition to this some tests have specific legal restriction. For instance, medical inquiries and physical examinations tests can be performed only in a way limited to the specific requirements of the future job.

The widely known lie detector or polygraph test is a precursor of many contemporary “honesty tests,” which use different sets of “yes” or “no” questions in order to compose a real moral portrait of an applicant. The problem, however, is that the polygraph test, as well as all other “honesty tests” did not prove to be accurate enough in evaluating the candidates.

As a legislative reaction to unreliable results and numerous complains about privacy violations Congress enacted the Employee Polygraph Act of 1998, which prohibited most private employers from using the polygraph test. However, other “honesty tests” remained on the market.

Pre-employment tests also differ by the way they are taken by applicants and administered by employers. Most tests are web-based. At the same time more traditional paper and pencil “honesty tests” are still widely used in the U.S.A.

Another popular personality assessment test is a handwriting analysis or “graphoanalysis.” If when applying for a job, you are asked to fill out some information in handwriting, it means that you are taking the handwriting analysis test, which is supposed to identify your moral strengths and weaknesses based on your writing manner. The problem with this test is that many “handwriting consultants” that interpret the results of the test don’t have any formal training in the area. Thus this kind of personality test is not more reliable than others.

One more test that employers widely use is the Psychological Stress Evaluator (PSE). This test analyzes tension in the applicant’s voice to identify when he or she is not telling the truth. So the next time when you pick up the phone and your potential employer starts asking you questions, watch out: you might be taking the PSE test.