Top companies understand the importance of finding just the right hire, and they realize the value of pre-employment tests in achieving this goal.

According to Talent Board’s most recent Candidate Experience Report, more than 65% of employers use some form of a pre-employment assessment during hiring. These tests include skill checks such as the Microsoft Office or Attention to Detail tests, which show basic strengths and weaknesses in common skills.

However, candidates who score well on skills tests might still prove not to be the right fit for the job or your team. To see how a candidate will adapt to the demands of the role, you should consider their judgment ability, which can be measured through behavioral testing, revealing information that cannot be extracted from a resume or a cover letter alone.

In this article, we’ll cover:

What is Behavioral Assessment?

Behavioral assessments are used to analyze behavioral traits of your job candidates, in order to see if they are well-equipped for the demands of the role.

Designed by industrial organizational psychologists, behavioral tests help hiring managers understand what candidates prefer, dislike, and how they would behave in potential workplace situations.

Two-thirds of employers today use pre-employment assessments.

Why are behavioral assessments essential to making informed hiring decisions? While a candidate’s “skills proficiency” points toward future job performance, skills can be learned and improved.

A person’s behavior, however, is a predisposition, and less likely to change.

For example, a person who scores low on “extroversion” might not be the perfect fit for roles requiring frequent interactions with customers.

Candidates that prefer memorizing information over making notes might not perform well under stressful situations characterized by influx of information. Some employees need firm deadlines to complete an assignment on time, while others are better able to work independently.

No mindset is worse than the other, but behavioral assessments can get you closer to the desired behaviors needed for the job. 

How Do Behavioral Tests Work?

Behavioral tests are tools that measure behavioral competencies of applicants in different work scenarios. When combined with skills tests, they can provide a well-rounded, detailed overview of applicants’ abilities.

There are no incorrect answers in behavioral assessments, as they are meant to measure personality traits, not knowledge or industry experience. Behavioral tests can be often used for measuring the candidates’ situational judgment, and the results will cover aspects of the candidate’s temperament and traits. 

Types of Behavior Assessments Questions

What are you looking for in your potential employee? If you have an idea of your optimal candidate, it will be easier to choose the right test for your needs.

Psychologists have approached this topic differently, which results in a variety of behavioral assessment and question types. The most common types of behavioral assessment questions are:

Multiple-choice questions

With multiple-choice questions, applicants choose from a number of statements to find the one that would best describe their behavior in a given situation. Tests with multiple-choice questions are simple to answer, while being less time-consuming to design and analyze the results.

Brief open-ended questions

Open-ended questions require a longer response than a simple “yes” or “no”, which is an approach that has its limitations.On one hand, they give the candidates the freedom to speak their mind, answering questions in their own words, which gives you additional information about your potential employees. 

On the other hand, overly detailed questions can be too long and require too much thought, making for an unpleasant candidate experience. 

Rating scale questions

With rating scale questions, candidates choose the number on the scale that most accurately represents their viewpoint. These tests are easy and quick to answer, and they measure the strength of response and priority of options.

Types of Behavior Assessment        

 Behavior assessment can be divided into four categories:

  • Universal tests
  • Position-related tests
  • Behavioral scale tests
  • Customized behavioral tests

Universal behavioral tests

Universal tests are well-known among hiring managers and can reveal whether your applicants have a bundle of traits required for a job. One of the most popular behavioral tests is the OCEAN test, which is also known as “The Big Five”.

The Big Five measures the candidate’s behavioral profile through five basic personality traits:

1)  Openness – How receptive and welcoming you are to new things?

2)  Conscientiousness – Are you organized and dependable?

3)  Extroversion – What is the comfortable level of interaction with people for you?

4)  Agreeableness – What kind of connection do you create with others?

5)  Neuroticism – How well can you deal with your emotions?

Position-related behavioral tests

Position-related tests are specific to the industry and job requirements. 

Customer service profiles, sales aptitude profiles, and healthcare service profile tests are all common position-related tests. A customer service representative and a medical worker might share some personality traits, but the requirements of their jobs will require them to develop some additional, different technical and soft skills.

Behavioral scale tests

Behavioral scale tests are psychometric tests and are valuable for measuring specific behavioral traits needed for a job, such as positive attitude, grit, energy, and flexibility. For example, if you want to hire an employee with a can-do, go-getter attitude, you can use these psychometrics assessments to develop a reliable picture of your applicants’ motivation and drive.

Customized behavioral testing

A job position’s responsibilities will vary from company to company, so a generalized test that attempts to cover all topics may not be helpful for your specific situation. Customized behavioral tests rely on more than one form of question to provide insight about job candidates. These pre-employment tests approach the candidate’s profile from more angles, and this blend of forms gives hiring managers unique, detailed data.

Customized testing allows you to accommodate behavioral tests according to your open position and your company culture. In the case of a customer service representative, measuring the candidate’s ability to deal with stress is essential. And while leadership skills might not be among the most important traits for customer service representatives, they are crucial for those applying for managerial positions.

You can choose between four different types of behavioral tests for your candidates.

Behavioral Assessment vs. Cognitive Tests

Because of the similar types of questions used in behavioral assessments and cognitive tests, it’s sometimes easy to confuse the two. 

Cognitive tests focus on your job candidates’ capacity to acquire new knowledge and skills. For example, if your company has a fast-paced work culture, pre-employment cognitive tests will show how quickly your candidates will be able to adapt to this environment.

Behavioral assessments do not measure the candidates’ knowledge or capacity for skills acquisition. Instead, these types of tests focus on the applicants’ behavioral traits, such as interpersonal skills, leadership, organizational abilities, and more.

While cognitive tests assess the candidate’s capacity for learning, behavioral assessments can measure their situational awareness and judgment, among other abilities. To have an accurate picture of an applicant’s aptitude, both the cognitive and behavioral test should be administered early on in the candidate screening process.

Do not confuse behavioral assessment with cognitive tests.

Behavioral Assessments for Hiring – Why They Matter

How many people apply to your jobs? To narrow down the applicant pool, you can administer behavioral tests early and advance only the applicants meeting your preferred behavioral profile. If two or more candidates rank almost equally in experience and skills, you can compare behavioral assessment scores to assess who’s the better fit.

Behavioral assessments allow you to make an informed decision based on scientific data. Following the results of these tests reduces the likelihood of bias.

Another benefit of using pre-hire behavioral tests is reducing employee attrition. Searching for the right hire is a time-consuming, expensive process. With behavioral assessment tools, you’ll know precisely who would thrive in the open role, and be a valuable team member in the long-term.  With behavioral tests results, managers can get a full picture of an employee’s abilities, and know what to focus on during the onboarding and training process.

In Conclusion

After reviewing resumes and cover letters, what do you really know about how your applicants will perform?

You can see their work history, achievements, and skills, but how they’ll adapt to the new position remains unknown.  Choosing the best candidate becomes much less challenging when you allow independent validated hiring assessments to guide the process, and behavioral tests are fundamental to that process.

EmployTest offers a wide selection of behavioral tests for job candidates, including the ability to customize a test specific to your open job position. To learn more about what we do, contact us and try a free sample behavioral test today!

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