What You Should Know About Employment Assessments

That's not a valid work email account. Please enter your work email (e.g. you@yourcompany.com)
Please enter your work email
(e.g. you@yourcompany.com)


Background checks, personality trait inventories, work histories, skills tests: You name it, there’s a checklist for it. You do everything possible to make sure your candidates (and new hires) are the right fit for your team. But how can you be sure they’ll be successful in the position before you hire them?

Historically, recruiters have used assessments in virtually every stage of the hiring process. However, as boolean search, semantic search, and matching algorithms have grown in popularity, many of today’s newest recruiters have lost touch with employment assessments.

To help recruiters (re)familiarize themselves with these vital recruitment tools, we should take a look at some common ways in which assessments can be useful:

Biographical Data

No, we’re not talking about birthdays and home towns. The biographical data we care about during employment assessments includes things like leadership experience, interpersonal skills, and teamwork abilities.

Typically, these evaluations comprise questions regarding education, training, interests, and the like. This basic and fundamental assessment can help determine a candidate’s interest in the position and how they might fit into the role.

Cognitive Abilities

Does your candidate have the ability to learn and grow in the position? A new hire’s cognitive ability has an impact on their success at work.

According to Lisa Quast, founder of Career Woman, Inc., “Companies use [cognitive] testing to find the candidates most likely to succeed in the open positions and to screen out those who are unqualified.”


Hiring a candidate you can’t trust isn’t a good decision – but how do you know how trustworthy a candidate is if all you have to go on is the information on their resume or the things they said in an interview?

Many employers use questions like, “If you saw your coworker doing something dishonest, what would you do?” to determine how much integrity a candidate has. You’d be wise to include similar questions in your interviews.

Job Knowledge

SeagullsThe right assessments can help you ensure that you hire the candidate with the most industry and role-specific knowledge. This is especially important when hiring for highly technical roles that require specialized knowledge.

As Alice Waagen, president of Workforce Learning, explains : “Tests that are used to assess specific aptitudes, skills, or job knowledge, such as data entry or math skills, are expected and accepted by both employers and applicants.”


Clashing personalities can be disastrous for a team. That’s why nearly a quarter  of employers use personality tests during the hiring process. Extroverts, introverts, those who are easily engaged, those who have issues staying focused: you have to have the right combination of personalities  if you want your team to work effectively. Knowing your candidates’ personalities ahead of time can help you choose the best person for your team’s particular dynamic.

Physical Ability

Every job has some sort of physical component, even if it’s just lifting the occasional box of paper. For the more physically demanding jobs, though, it’s a good idea to ask candidates to complete physical tests. For example, people who want to be police officers or firefighters have to complete physical assessments as part of their applications.

Interviews and Work Samples

Traditional interviews are the most common of all assessments. Interacting directly with a candidate can help you gain a lot of valuable insight into who they are and how they might fit in at your company. If you combine your interviews with portfolios of work samples supplied by the candidates, that may be all you need in terms of assessment.

You’re not the only one looking for a better way to assess candidates outside of applications, resumes, and interviews. Luckily, there are plenty of pre-employment tests out there that you can use to help you make the best hires. It’s important to evaluate potential hires in a number of relevant ways, so make sure you choose the right assessments for your hiring process.

Ryan Mead is the CEO and founder of Vitru.

By Ryan Mead