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Create a Modern Hiring Assessment Test in 11 Steps

Elizabeth Thorn Elizabeth Thorn Last Updated:

In 2024, recruiters and HR teams will need modern, automated tools to meet business demands. That’s why 98% of Fortune 500 companies already use digital recruitment software alongside helpful tools like hiring assessment tests or pre-employment tests to source and screen top candidates quickly.

How can you stay ahead? Start by reading this guide, where we’ll share tips to help your team design pre-employment tests that support a modern approach to hiring to shift the heavy lifting to the technology you use rather than throw it all on your team’s shoulders.

TL;DR — Key Takeaways

  • A hiring assessment is a recruiting tool that helps HR teams automate their screening process, save time, and maintain candidate engagement with immediate feedback.

  • Pre-employment tests add value to all stages of the recruiting funnel, from screening and candidate assessment to shortlisting. They help talent acquisition teams uncover top job candidates fast and can level up your hiring process, from hiring at scale to maintaining the quality of hire.

  • To design winning pre-employment assessments, consider making your early-stage tests difficult to identify top talent quickly. Don’t try to test for all the skills in one test, though, and use ready-made test templates to speed up the time to hire.

  • Recruiting shouldn’t be a time-consuming, manual hassle, and pre-employment testing is one way to ensure it isn’t. Using a modern, automated skills-based hiring platform like Toggl Hire can make recruiting effortless, fair, and even…fun for candidates.

What is a hiring assessment?

A hiring assessment, sometimes referred to as a pre-employment assessment, is a screening tool used in the recruitment process, typically in the form of a job knowledge test or another type of skills or personality test.

Prospective candidates complete these pre-employment tests online, and the data collected from all applicants’ tests gets fed into an optimized digital screening process.

Top tips to enlarge those brains Top tip:

Not all hiring software offers pre-employment screening, and not all pre-employment screening processes include skills assessment tests. A hiring assessment is a broad term to describe any pre-employment screening tool used to assess candidates in a standardized, results-driven format. The assessments vary from skills and personality tests to homework assignments.

The traditional hiring process is more manual and time-consuming. Talent acquisition teams manually screen CVs to spot good candidates, then conduct interviews to sift out the top contenders, often based on their gut feeling about a candidate and the experience candidates claim on their CVs (which isn’t always accurate — 70% of workers lie on their resumes).

Modern pre-employment testing is different, thanks to the software available today. For example, skills-based hiring software uses job knowledge tests crafted by experts to:

Hiring managers use the results from pre-employment testing to assess and measure applicants’ soft skills and technical skills. Here are a few examples of skills a recruiter may assess during a hiring test:

SkillType of SkillTest Used
Problem-solvingSoft skillCognitive ability tests, situational judgment tests, or video intro
Critical thinkingSoft skillCritical thinking skills test or video intro
Active listeningSoft skillListening comprehension tests or asynchronous video interviews
CopywritingTechnical skillWriting test or homework assignment
CybersecurityTechnical skillSkills test or job knowledge test
MySQLTechnical skillOnline test or homework assignment

How to use pre-employment testing in the hiring process

Within the different hiring stages, specific pre-employment assessments can be used by HR teams to learn more about a candidate’s potential.

A combination of different types of pre-employment tests is often the best way to pinpoint the strongest candidates. For example, a cognitive ability test combined with an integrity test or personality test. Or a pre-employment assessment that uses skills assessments to test for hard skills related to the job role.

Regardless of how you use pre-employment assessments, here are a couple of ways they fit into most hiring processes.

Selection and screening

After interested applicants have applied for your open roles, you can use pre-employment tests, such as skills assessment tests, video interviews, or personality tests, to automate the initial screening and selection process.

How do you choose the right test type? Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Skills assessments

Skills tests assess a candidate’s job knowledge or ability to actually do the job, with questions designed to test everything from basic knowledge and general mental ability to advanced practical capabilities.

Skills tests are great for initial candidate screening, as many tools capture basic candidate information and can be configured to automatically decline candidates who plagiarize or don’t make the grade, such as setting an 80% pass threshold. As a result, you can save time, prevent cheating, and increase the quality of your hires.

Asynchronous video tests

Asynchronous video tests use a pre-recorded video introduction to get the process started and then follow a typical question-and-answer format.

This type of pre-employment assessment allows recruiters to multiply their time by only recording their introduction once while giving candidates the flexibility to reply whenever it suits them.

They’re also great at assessing critical on-the-job skills, such as communication style and language proficiency, as well as giving recruiters an early insight into a candidate’s cultural fit.

Asynchronous video tests offer several benefits for both recruiters and candidates." />
Asynchronous video tests offer several benefits for both recruiters and candidates.

Personality tests

Personality tests give recruiters an insight into a candidate’s emotional intelligence, as well as their personal values, strengths, and weaknesses. These test results provide a balanced view when assessing candidates and are great for understanding motivations, career aspirations, and cultural fit.

Personality questionnaires and emotional intelligence tests alone aren’t that reliable (at least not to test candidates in a professional setting), so it’s recommended you assess personality traits alongside other tests, like cognitive aptitude tests and hard skills tests, to make fair hiring decisions.

Candidate shortlisting

Once your team has whittled down the applicant pool quickly with your choice of automated skills tests, you need to discover which applicants should continue down the recruiting funnel and be shortlisted for the job.

Homework assignment

A homework assignment allows recruiters to assess job performance within the context of the actual role and the organization hiring for it. Often completed later in the recruitment process, these tests may include creating a presentation, report, or design document related to the job role.

While these types of assignments require a significant time investment from the candidate, they also give them insight into the type of work they’d do in the role and help them determine if it’s a good fit. 

If you’re using a tool that shares their test results with them, they will also benefit from receiving feedback and insight into their job performance, which can help them improve as candidates.

Homework assignments can help you make a final decision between your top contenders." />
Homework assignments can help you make a final decision between your top contenders.

Job simulation

A job simulation is a realistic task given to an applicant that simulates the real-life working environment they’re hoping to join.

It could include completing a series of day-to-day tasks typical to the role. This is typically done during a paid test day, during which the candidate works with (potential) future colleagues on a real project.

This type of test can provide an accurate sense of whether the potential employee will be able to hit the ground running in the role.

11 tips for designing better hiring tests

If you’re considering introducing hiring tests into your recruitment process, then we can help you design a modern pre-employment test process that helps your team reach its targets fast. Simply follow these practical tips to get started.

1. Understand the position’s requirements

Remember that each hiring test should be unique to specific roles. Take the time to first understand the role and which skills, knowledge, and experience the ideal candidate will need. Consider both hard and soft skills.

If you’re a recruiter, collaborate with the hiring manager and team to build your ideal candidate profile. The better you know your job requirements, the better you can optimize your hiring tests to match the perfect candidate with their prospective employer.

2. Choose the right pre-employment assessments

Depending on the role, you’ll likely choose a blend of skills tests, job knowledge tests, physical ability tests, personality tests, or any other pre-employment tests to measure your candidate’s aptitude. Just remember to be selective — don’t overburden your candidates with too many!

For example, for a junior-level or graduate hire, you may prioritize personality traits over job knowledge, using emotional intelligence tests or integrity tests to test cognitive ability and cultural fit since they lack the skills and experience a senior software developer might have.

3. Consider where and when you’ll use pre-employment testing

Next, determine where to use each test in your hiring process.

The easiest way to figure out where that is in your hiring process is to remember that iring tests should be used where they have the most value. If you have trouble screening high volumes of candidates, use them there. If you need to quality-check your final shortlist, use them later.

Use pre-employment testing where it will have the most impact in the hiring process." />
Use pre-employment testing where it will have the most impact in the hiring process.

The best tests to use for initial candidate screening and candidate shortlisting typically include a short skills assessment. Testing candidates for basic skills allows you to weed out those who don’t meet the minimum requirements to succeed in the role.

Then, you can move on to a short, open-ended homework assignment that will allow candidates to offer unique solutions and insight into tasks they encounter on the job.

Top tips to enlarge those brains Top tip:

Remember that hiring tests go two ways. There’s a time investment for the candidate too. If you plan to run long and detailed tests, fit them in later in the process, as they may put candidates off when they initially apply.

4. Don’t make the test too easy

The goal of pre-employment testing is to test how knowledgeable and capable applicants are. Any good pre-employment assessment should filter out the candidates who really know their stuff. So if you make the pre-employment tests too easy, they’ll be pretty useless.

Consider using a mix of standard and difficult questions in the test to find the right balance that remains a challenge but doesn’t put candidates off.

How will you know if your tests are too difficult or too easy? Use a tool like Toggl Hire to gather candidate feedback. See what they have to say and take note of any trends.

If you’re sourcing a lot of “okay” candidates or are hiring seemingly great candidates only to find their performance isn’t up to par on the job, your pre-employment testing might be too easy or fail to test for the right skills.

5. Don’t test for every skill at once

With so many types of pre-employment tests to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which ones will guide your hiring decisions. If you try and test for too many skills in one test, the results could become murky.

You can simplify the process by first identifying the specific skills you need to test and then deciding which stage would be best to test them.

With hundreds of skills to test for, it's best to target the ones most relevant to each position." />
With hundreds of skills to test for, it’s best to target the ones most relevant to each position.

6. Define your hiring test questions

Now, it’s finally time for the fun part — creating your hiring tests. Again, depending on the job role, think about the question format that’ll work best. If you’re using Toggl Hire for pre-employment testing, options include: 

  • Free text

  • Single choice

  • Multiple choice

  • Picture choice

  • Async video interview

  • Numeric input

  • Code input

Types of questions to use in pre-employment screening
Use a mix of question types to make the assessment more dynamic.

Need something more specialized? Create a custom pre-employment test and design the hiring assessment that works for your business with a mix of bespoke questions and our library of 11,000 expert-created skill-based questions.

7. Review the questions

Before publishing your hiring assessment, take the time to peer review the questions with other members of your organization. During this process, you want to ensure: 

  • There are no grammatical errors

  • All the questions make sense and are easy to understand

  • The questions are relevant to the job role

  • The test takes the right length of time to complete

It’s helpful to peer review with individuals at different levels and from diverse backgrounds. This gives you a more well-rounded view of the test and helps you make any final tweaks before making it public to candidates.

With Toggl Hire, it's easy to send your job positing to colleagues for feedback before it goes live." />
With Toggl Hire, you can easily send your job posting to colleagues for feedback.

8. Decide on the pass parameters

With the peer review complete, the last, but perhaps most important, thing to do is determine what passing the pre-employment assessment looks like. Set an 80% pass threshold to clear your funnel quickly of candidates who don’t match the role requirements.

Setting your pass minimum requirements upfront (and high) helps you keep your quality high. Waiting to see the results and then picking “the best” of your test takers may leave you inadvertently selecting poor-quality candidates.

9. Use ready-made templates

Ready-made test templates can speed up the assessment process and remove a lot of the traditional hassle and stress for talent acquisition teams.

With Toggl Hire’s assessment tools, you can create hiring assessments from our range of over 200 pre-built test templates. However, we still recommend tailoring each template to the specific requirements of the job by adding one or two custom questions.

Use ready-made skills assessment templates to kickstart the process of creating a hiring assessment test." />
Use ready-made skills assessment templates to kickstart the process of creating a hiring assessment test.
Top tips to enlarge those brains Top tip:

Ask experts on your team or consult your professional network to create custom questions that test skills accurately. For example, if you’re hiring for a Senior Social Media Manager, ask your Head of Marketing what kinds of questions will help test competency best, or consult your LinkedIn network.

10. Use tags to categorize candidates

When you and the hiring team are knee-deep in the selection and screening process, you can help everyone out by adding tags to the candidate profiles, such as ‘maybe,’ ‘only remote work,’ or ‘good situational judgment,’ so that you can get a quick reminder of their particular strengths or limitations.

11. Iterate and learn

Once your hiring test is live, remember to continuously analyze and improve the process. Many hiring tests go on an iterative journey of improvement and optimization.

As part of this journey, remember to consider both sides of the experience. To understand how the experience looks for candidates, request candidate feedback so you know exactly what needs improving in the process.

Candidate feedback is built into Toggl Hire, and we suggest monitoring feedback closely in the first week after the test is launched to catch any potential issues early. Make adjustments accordingly while also monitoring responses to questions. If you see nearly every candidate has gotten a question wrong, check to ensure you’ve checked the correct answer or that it’s not too difficult.

3 real-world use cases for pre-employment testing

As you can see, there are many ways to implement pre-employment testing into your hiring process to improve recruiting metrics like candidate experience, time to fill, and hire quality.

The length, difficulty, and stage at which job knowledge tests and other types of pre-employment assessments vary depending on your industry, competition, hiring needs, and talent pool.

To help you understand what pre-employment screening looks like using hiring assessment tests, here are three examples of real Toggl Hire customers who are leveling up their recruitment process with skills assessment tests.

1. Hiring at scale at Producement 

Producement case study x Toggl Hire

Producement is a product engineering studio that helps early-stage startup founders build teams and deliver scalable MVPs super fast. Their challenge? Quickly and successfully source top-level, remote engineering talent that matches their company culture. 

With Toggl Hire skills tests, Producement has put the first few steps of the hiring process on autopilot, helping them to: 

  • Automatically filter out 97% of unsuitable candidates

  • Save over 400 hours of recruitment team effort

  • Hire 10+ remote-ready engineers at speed for their clients 

Best practice tips

Here are a few expert tips to help your team hire at scale like Producement:

  • Use standardized assessments to save time

  • Set a high pass threshold on your skills assessment tests

  • Add hard questions to your test to make the screening process more efficient

  • Utilize modern HR software with AI-enabled features for faster screening and AI-use detection

  • Use asynchronous video interviews to reduce delays in screening

  • Try out recruitment software that provides visibility into your whole hiring pipeline

2. Maintaining hire quality at Proxify

Proxify case study x Toggl Hire

Proxify prides itself on helping companies hire top-level remote developers in as little as one week. They work with clients in 17 different countries, running 24/7 recruitment operations on a global scale. But, when they started receiving 3,000 applications each week, the team was drowning. 

Using skills testing, they managed to revolutionize their hiring process. Here are the benefits they saw:

  • Predictive candidate confidence at the screening stage rose from 60% to 93%

  • Reduced time to hire by 1.5x — application to hire now takes just 12.5 days

  • They created a consistent and optimized process across three continents!

Best practice tips

To maintain the quality of hires while scaling up your recruiting like Proxify, consider these pointers:

  • Focus on quality rather than quantity (even when there are loads of roles to fill) because quality candidates make businesses thrive

  • Include a recruitment marketing metric to track and assess the quality of applicants

  • Use hiring software that includes anti-cheating measures to filter out any bad eggs

3. Less interviews = more time at Toggl Track 

Why recruiters love Toggl Track

Toggl Track is our time-tracker and productivity tool sibling used by millions across the globe, and being a fully remote team means their job openings attract talent the world over. With an average of 500 applications for each position, they needed a fast and efficient way to identify the best of the bunch. 

Using recruitment assessment tests, the Toggl Track has been able to: 

  • Ditch resumes and adopt skills tests by default

  • Conduct 72% fewer interviews, saving 22 valuable hours per job opening

  • Boost their candidate satisfaction to 91%, whether they passed or failed 

Best practice tips

Conduct fewer interviews and free up your recruitment team’s time for more skilled tasks by:

Get started with pre-employment tests that candidates love

If you’re still using traditional screening tools to attract candidates, you could be missing out on top talent due to the frustration these tools cause.

Whether you choose to use a skills test, async video interview, or other common pre-employment tests, there are many ways to modernize your screening process. It’s about finding what works for you and your business. 

Ready to start assessing your candidates in a more effective way? Start by browsing our skills assessment library to find a pre-made hiring assessment test you can use to kickstart the process.

Elizabeth Thorn

Elizabeth is an experienced entrepreneur and content marketer. She has nine years of experience helping grow businesses and has experienced first-hand the impact of skills-based hiring in today's global, digital world.

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