5 stages of job tests: how to hire the perfect candidate

Last updated:
July 21, 2021
October 17, 2022
min read
Brendan McConnell
Table of contents

It goes without saying that when you’re looking to hire a new team member, you want someone who is going to be a perfect fit for the job. They should have the skills and experience necessary to thrive, while also being the right cultural fit for your team. The best way to ensure that you hire the right candidate is to come up with the right job test.

What is a job test?

Job tests, or pre-employment tests, are objective and reliable methods of assessing how successful a candidate will be at a certain role. They can take the form of a hard skills test, soft skills test, a personality test, an on-the-job simulation or a combination of all four. The goal is to get a holistic overview of your candidate’s abilities and personality, meaning you need to take some time to plan the best methods of assessing these attributes.

Job tests vary from talent assessments, which is a more comprehensive assessment to judge the overall fit and potential of a candidate outside of a single role.

5 steps to run job tests

Stage 1: Planning your skills tests for each job

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that different roles have different requirements. And, like job roles, candidates are not all the same either. As a result, a one size fits all approach to pre-employment testing won’t cut it. You’ll need to take time to find the right skills test for the job.

If you’re serious about finding the perfect candidate, then you should get a handle on what that person looks like. You can then tailor your hiring process to test for those attributes.

Once you’ve planned your job tests, you can deploy them in the field.

Stage 2: Job testing before the interview

The traditional method of choosing candidates based on their CV and cover letter gives you a one-dimensional view of your candidates, outlined on a few sheets of paper.

To get a better idea of the real person behind the CV, you should build out a more complete profile of your candidates before the interview, which can include a pre-employment test

Use video answers

A cover letter is intended to showcase your candidate’s personality. But unless they have Hemingway-caliber writing abilities, a letter simply will not give you a full picture of who they are as a person.

Instead, ask your candidates to submit a video answer to a questionnaire set. This will allow them to showcase their personality and communications skills more effectively. To help the candidate feel comfortable doing this, you can give them a list of questions to answer – both serious and casual.

For example, you could ask them to give you a 30-second elevator pitch for why they’re the ideal candidate. Pair that with questions like “What’s your favorite thing to do in your free time?” or “If there’s one person you could have lunch with, who would it be?” This gives you great insight into the candidate’s personality and helps you put a face to their CV. Recruitee’s video answers feature is the perfect tool for collecting video responses.

Ask them to complete a short questionnaire

Create a list of job-specific questions that tackle the more mundane information that you need to know about their qualifications for the job. This will allow you to focus on getting to know the candidate during the interview. Allow the candidates to submit their answers in writing, video or audio to ensure that they’re able to express themselves in the way that works best for them.

Stage 3: Job testing during the interview

Now that you’ve done a thorough pre-screening of your candidates, you can use the interview to really dig into their personality and test how well they would integrate into your team.

Competency-based interview questions

A great way to run a skills test for the job and find out how a candidate will perform is to ask competency-based questions.

Come up with a list of scenarios that the candidate would be expected to handle. Ask them if they’ve experienced that before, and how they dealt with it. Or, if they haven’t experienced it, how they would handle it. This type of pre-employment testing is a great way to determine how your candidate would handle specific workplace situations.

In-interview challenges

You can also give them a challenge to complete during the interview that mimics a scenario they’re likely to face on the job, such as a writing test or a sales pitch.

Be sure to make this job test fair and achievable. Also, note that not all candidates will perform at their best in a high-pressure interview. Use your judgment and the results of your other job tests to make your hiring decision.

Stage 4: Job testing after the interview

You should now have a small group of candidates to choose from. This is where the fun begins! Now you can start to loop in your other team members to test the candidates’ abilities.

Give them a real-world project to complete

The best way to truly test how well a candidate will perform their daily tasks is to ask them to complete a project that relates to their role. Think of a project that they’d be expected to lead, and ask them to complete it for you. Depending on the role, this could be:

  • A presentation
  • A written project
  • A coding or programming project
  • A business, marketing or sales plan
  • Or any other project that relates to this position.

Or, if one big project doesn’t make sense, you can ask your team to come up with a series of mini-projects that mimic how the candidate would interact with each of their colleagues.

Once the project is completed, you can collaborate with your team using Recruitee to determine which candidate performed the best.

Bring them in for a day to work with their future team

Finally, if your colleagues are up for it, you can bring them into the office to work with your team. This is known as a trial day or job test. Ask your candidate to come in for a day or two to work on real-life projects with their future colleagues. This will give your candidate a clear picture of what it will be like to work at your company, and show you how well they integrate into your team.

Stage 5: Hire your ideal candidate!

Once you’ve gone through your pre-employment testing process, you should have a clear idea of who the ideal candidate is. Now it’s just a matter of sending them a job offer!

No one skills testing technique should be used in isolation. Instead, you should be looking at the aggregate results of all your pre-employment tests, in addition to the personality and experiences of each individual.

Use your instincts, as well as your job tests, to hire your perfect candidate.

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