TestGorilla LogoTestGorilla Logo

The top 6 mistakes to avoid while using pre-screening tests

Written by Rhiân Davies

Whether you’re already using pre-screening tests or just getting started, you’re likely using them to get valuable information that you just can’t find in an applicant’s resume. In short, you’re using them to help you make better hiring decisions

For example, though a candidate might write in their resume that they can create detailed reports and data visualizations using Microsoft Excel, without a pre-screening assessment, you can’t know for sure the extent of their skills until you hire them.

Since pre-screening tests are objective, you can also use these tests as a significant first step in avoiding hiring bias. Plus, these results offer complementary contextual information when considered along with interviews and work experience. This way, you’ll get a more comprehensive insight into your candidates. 

The benefits of using pre-screening tests are evident. However, there are a few common mistakes that many organizations make when using pre-screening assessments that can render them useless. Here, we go through the six most common pre-screening mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Assigning the wrong pre-screening tests to applicants

When it comes to assigning pre-screening tests to applicants, it may seem obvious which tests you should ask them to complete. 

For example, if you’re hiring a data analyst, it seems fair to assume that you might assign them a Power BI test or a test that assesses their ability to work with data. However, if you instead ask applicants to complete an email skills test, not only will you wind up with information that won’t help you make any solid hiring decisions, you may also run into legal compliance issues. 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) clearly states in its Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures that any tests used to make hiring decisions must be relevant to the job.

For the sake of ease, it may be tempting to assign all applicants the same tests, no matter the position. However, generic pre-screening tests provide little value when it comes to making a final hiring decision. For example, personality tests are great for getting a better idea about what makes your candidates tick but don’t rely on these tests to make your final hiring decision. 

Selecting the right pre-screening starts when you create the profile for each role for which you’re hiring. When writing the job description, think carefully about the skills needed for the position. Then choose the tests accordingly. 

2. Not considering soft skills or culture fit 

Although we mention above that personality tests shouldn’t be the only tests you rely on to make hiring decisions, soft skills are often an essential part of many roles across many industries. 

The ideal candidate for any role will have the right mixture of both hard and soft skills, which means pre-screening for both is a crucial part of your recruitment strategy

Plus, you likely already have an idea in mind of the type of person that should fill this role. However, many organizations are moving away from the concept of culture fit to culture add. A culture add mindset recognizes the benefit of hiring people who align with your organization’s standards and culture and brings something different to the table. 

Test Gorilla’s customizable culture add test provides an extra dimension to your hiring decisions by helping you identify applicants who not only share your organization’s core values but will help your organization thrive. Using this test and other soft skills tests in conjunction with hard skills tests will help you hire candidates that deliver value to your organization for years to come. 

3. Relying on pre-screening tests alone

Pre-screening tests help provide a clearer picture of who the top candidates are among your applicants; they’re also a straightforward and streamlined way to gather data on your applicants. 

Since pre-screening tests remove a lot of legwork in the applicant assessment process, it can be tempting to rely on pre-screening tests alone.

But while an applicant might score highly across the board, they may not be the kind of personality that suits your company or team, which sometimes you can only confirm during the interview process. 

Using a combination of hiring manager experience, pre-screening tests, and interviews is the best way to not only get the most out of pre-screening tests but to secure the best candidates.  

4. Neglecting the candidate experience 

Pre-screening tests are efficient and lay a lot of the necessary groundwork for making homerun hiring decisions—but organizations must use them wisely or face turning top candidates away. 

Testing can be burdensome for applicants who are job hunting. Many organizations have lengthy application processes in place, which can drain applicants of time. The pre-screening testing process can also make companies appear ‘faceless’ when they insist on tests before any face-to-face interaction. 

You’ll need to manage the pre-screening test process in a way that enhances the candidate experience instead of detracting from it. 

Before anything, your applicants’ first touchpoint with your company has to be a positive one, so make sure your application process is up to scratch. Secondly, evaluate the seniority of the role and adjust the number of tests and time it takes to complete them accordingly. You don’t want your applicants to lose interest before finishing the assessment. 

Thirdly, work with your HR and marketing teams to ensure that the messaging for applicants is encouraging, let them know why they’re completing a pre-screening test. 

If they are rejected based on their test results, consider sharing the results with them. That way, they know what they need to work on. 

5. Not using the right technology to support pre-screening test processes

The pre-screening test market has expanded exponentially in recent years to meet the demand for objective evaluation methods while hitting recruitment metric goals such as time-to-fill. With the wide variety of options, it can be challenging to know where to start when assessing the available software.

Here’s what you should look for in any pre-screening test software worth its salt: 

  • Scientifically validated tests: The tests the solutions offer should have a body of evidence behind them, including their ability to benchmark and compare applicants. Pre-screening software should also provide tests cultivated by reputable test psychologists and statisticians.

  • Available integrations with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS): There are multiple benefits of integrating pre-screening software with your ATS, such as adding efficiency to document and workflow completion, ensuring legal compliance, and reducing hiring bottlenecks. 

  • Offers a wide range of tests: No matter the industry, it’s crucial for organizations to have access to a varied range of testing types. As we’ve mentioned before, it’s best practice to use a combination of pre-screening tests to receive a well-rounded view of the applicant. 

  • High level of customization: Of course, many organizations want to create their own tests to evaluate applicants. A good pre-screening tool will help make test creation a simple, straightforward process while ensuring you get the most out of your customized tests. 

  • Ease of use: A pre-screening tool should help recruiting processes become smarter, not harder. Look for tools that can provide you with real-time assessment results, make inviting applicants for testing easy, and make it easy to compare applicants side-by-side. 

There are many pre-screening tools on the market today, but you need to choose one that’s suitable for your industry and business goals. The right tool helps you save time with hiring processes rather than lengthen them, and help you remain legally compliant. 

Test Gorilla offers all of the above and more. Our Test Library hosts more than 115 scientifically-validated tests, prevents applicant cheating, is mobile-friendly, and provides applicants with a positive testing experience.

6. Only using one type of test

TestGorilla recommends multi-measure assessments (assessments that include a mix of cognitive ability, personality, and other types of tests).

This approach has been shown to be the most effective way to predict how a candidate will perform on the job. Of all methods for testing and selecting job applicants, research has repeatedly demonstrated that when you align what you measure with what you’re trying to predict, you’ll have the most success with your hiring process (e.g., Hough & Oswald, 2023). Thus, using different tests and assessment methods that align to different parts of what it means to be successful on the job is an effective way to predict how a candidate will perform on the job.

With pre-employment skills testing platforms like TestGorilla, you can easily use multiple test types to identify the best candidate for every opening.

Evolve your applicant assessment processes with pre-screening tests

Used correctly, pre-screening tests can be an invaluable part of your organization’s hiring process. They provide information you can use to make better hiring decisions and streamline the entire screening process while avoiding unconscious bias.

But a final common mistake made when using pre-screening tools is not having realistic expectations of what pre-screening tests can help you achieve. Although the test results are valuable, they should not be considered a panacea to your hiring process.

Use these tests in combination with other HR best practices and, with the above mistakes in mind, you’ll be on your way to a more efficient and more effective hiring process.


Hire the best candidates with TestGorilla

Create pre-employment assessments in minutes to screen candidates, save time, and hire the best talent.

The best advice in pre-employment testing, in your inbox.

No spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

TestGorilla Logo

Hire the best. No bias. No stress.

Our screening tests identify the best candidates and make your hiring decisions faster, easier, and bias-free.

Free resources

Anti-cheating checklist

This checklist covers key features you should look for when choosing a skills testing platform

Onboarding checklist

This resource will help you develop an onboarding checklist for new hires.

How to find candidates with strong attention to detail

How to assess your candidates' attention to detail.

How to get HR certified

Learn how to get human resources certified through HRCI or SHRM.

Improve quality of hire

Learn how you can improve the level of talent at your company.

Case study
Case study: How CapitalT reduces hiring bias

Learn how CapitalT reduced hiring bias with online skills assessments.

Resume screening guide

Learn how to make the resume process more efficient and more effective.

Recruiting metrics
Important recruitment metrics

Improve your hiring strategy with these 7 critical recruitment metrics.

Case study
Case study: How Sukhi reduces shortlisting time

Learn how Sukhi decreased time spent reviewing resumes by 83%!

12 pre-employment testing hacks

Hire more efficiently with these hacks that 99% of recruiters aren't using.

The benefits of diversity

Make a business case for diversity and inclusion initiatives with this data.