What’s A Skills Hire? Why Hiring Tests Are The Norm in 2022
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What’s A Skills Hire? Why Hiring Tests Are The Norm in 2022

James Elliott James Elliott Last Updated:

98% of the best companies use digital recruitment software to optimize their businesses. If you’re looking to follow suit, hiring tests are one of the most popular ways to take the pre-employment process to the next level!

In this article, we’ll dive deep into hiring tests, helping you understand what they are, the different types on offer, and examples of companies that use them. Once you’re sold on the concept, we’ll show you how easy it is to create your own hiring tests with our 7-step guide.

Let’s get into it! 

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What is a Hiring Assessment?

Let’s start with a simple definition:

Hiring assessments are the process of using tests, questionnaires, or case studies to assess a candidate’s suitability for a job role. You might see the terms hiring assessment, hiring test, and pre-employment tests used interchangeably – but they’re all referring to the same thing, hiring assessments.

No two hiring tests have the same objective, with many different types available. Here are just some examples of what a recruiter may assess during a hiring test:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Personality
  • Hard skills
  • Industry qualifications 

Hiring assessments are now a key part of the modern pre-employment process, giving recruiters an insight into what motivates a candidate while ensuring they actually have the skills required. 

How are Hiring Tests Used For Pre-Employment Recruitment?

As we’ve just mentioned, hiring tests look very different from company to company and even from vacancy to vacancy. Here are some of the different use cases for hiring tests across the recruitment process:

  • Skills Tests. Many organizations are moving away from CV’s in favor of skills tests. Skills tests assess a candidate’s ability to actually do the job, with questions designed to test everything from basic knowledge to advanced practical capabilities.

    Skills tests are great for initial candidate screening as well. Many tools also capture basic candidate information and can be configured to automatically decline candidates who don’t make the grade. All of this helps recruiters save time, prevent cheating, and increase the quality of your hires.
  • Async Video Interviews. Especially for customer-facing roles, hiring assessments need to assess a candidate’s soft skills. Asynchronous video interviews use a pre-recorded questions and answer format to get the conversation flowing and simulate a real-life interview.

    They’re also great at assessing critical on-the-job skills such as language proficiency, as well as giving recruiters an early insight into a candidate’s cultural fit. These sorts of video introductions allow recruiters to multiply their time by only recording their part once while giving candidates the flexibility to reply when it suits them.
  • Personality Tests. Whereas skills tests and async video interviews assess skills, personality tests give recruiters an insight into who a candidate really is. Candidates can’t practice for these tests, and while they aren’t typically classed as pass/fail assessments, they do influence the hiring process.

    Personality tests provide a balanced view when assessing candidates and are great for understanding motivations, career aspirations, and cultural fit.
  • Case Study. A case study exercise allows recruiters to assess how a candidate performs a day-to-day task. Often completed later in the recruitment process, these tests may include creating a presentation, report, or design document related to the job role itself.

    While it requires a significant time investment for the candidate, it also gives them an insight into the type of work they’d do in the role and understand if it’s right for them. 

Skills Tests vs. Personality Tests – Which is Better?

A question we see a lot online is recruiters asking what’s better, a skills test or a personality test

The truth is, it all depends on the situation. Neither test is ‘better’ than the other as they both assess different things, and oftentimes, using both together is actually the best solution all around.  

That’s because personality tests don’t assess candidates on the day-to-day skills required to do their job. If you rely on personality tests alone, sure, you’ll understand how a candidate thinks and feels in a certain situation, but you can’t tell how effective they are. 

Skills tests prove competence and give you the certainty that thoughts and feelings are aligned with value-adding outputs.

hiring tests

We’ve learned this from our customers at Toggl Hire and include a range of personality tests alongside our traditional skills tests.

This way, our customers can get the complete picture of all their candidates, assessing personality traits such as communication, leadership, and teamwork alongside traditional role-based competencies. 

You can test all of our personality skills tests in our app for free – check it out here

Which Companies Use Pre-Employment Hiring Tests?


Not sure if you’re the right sort of company to start using hiring tests? The good news is that all types of companies use testing to screen their candidates.

Here are three examples of Toggl Hire customers who use hiring assessments in their recruitment process: 

Producement – Hiring For Culture at Scale

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. 

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. 
hiring tests

Proxify – Turbocharged Hiring While Maintaining High Quality

Proxify prides themselves 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 began 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!
hiring tests

Toggl Track – Less Interviews = More Time

Toggl is a time-tracker and productivity tool used by millions across the globe. 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, efficient way to identify the best of the bunch. 

Through pre-employment hiring tests, Toggl Track went on 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. 
hiring tests

How to Create Hiring Tests – 7 Step Guide

If you’re ready to introduce hiring tests into your recruitment process, you’ve come to the right place. Follow these seven steps to get started and begin reaping the benefits of hiring assessments straight away. 

#1 – Understand Your Vacancy’s Requirements

First and foremost, remember that each hiring test is unique for its specific vacancy. Take the time to understand your vacancy and which skills, knowledge, and experience the ideal candidate will need. 

If you’re a recruiter, collaborate with the hiring manager to understand their needs and the team’s needs to build the profile of the perfect candidate. The better you know your requirements, the better you can optimize your hiring tests to find the perfect candidate.

#2 – Decide Which Tests to Use

Once you know your requirements, next, it’s time to review which type of hiring test is right for you. Depending on the role, you’ll likely go for a blend of skills tests, personality tests, and case study tests to fully assess your candidates. 

But remember that every role doesn’t need every single type of hiring test. For example, for a junior level/graduate hire, you may prioritize personality over skills. Whereas when hiring a senior software developer, you’ll want to focus on advanced skills in particular development languages.

hiring tests

#3 – Review How & Where You’ll Use Hiring Tests

Once you’ve decided which tests to use, you then need to determine where to use them in your hiring process. This is important for two reasons: 

  • Hiring tests should be used at the point where they have the most value for you. If you have trouble screening high volumes of candidates, use them there. If you need to quality-check your final shortlist, use them later instead.
  • 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, they may be better served later in the process as they may put candidates off when they initially reply.

#4 – Define Your Hiring Test Questions

Now for the fun part, building your hiring tests. Again depending on the job role, think about the question format you want to go for. Examples include: 

  • Free Text
  • Single Choice
  • Multiple Choice
  • Picture Choice
  • Async Video Interview
  • Numeric Input
  • Code Input

Be sure to think again about the time investment for the candidate and focus on what you really want to achieve from the test. Don’t overdo it, we recommend testing two primary skills and three secondary skills per hiring test to balance off getting the information you need without wearing your candidates out. 

At Toggl Hire, we’re here to help recruiters build the perfect skills tests. Our Smart Tests allow you to instantly create skills tests for over 200 different job roles, covering everything from sales to engineering to HR.

Need something more specialized? You can create your own custom tests too! Design the hiring assessment that’s perfect for you with a mix of bespoke questions and our library of 11,000 expert-created skill-based questions.

If you like the sound of that, take a look a look at how we do it below. 

#5 – Peer Review The Questions

Before putting your hiring assessment live, 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 for the job role
  • The test takes the right length of time to complete.

Make sure you peer review with individuals at different levels and those with diverse backgrounds and personalities. This gives you a more rounded view of the test and helps you make any final tweaks before letting it loose.

#6 – Decide on The Pass Parameters

With the peer review complete, the last, but perhaps most important, thing to do is determine what pass/fail looks like.

This is important for two key reasons: 

  • Firstly, setting your pass standard upfront helps you keep your quality high. Waiting to see the results and picking ‘the best’ may leave you inadvertently selecting poor quality candidates – essentially, it’s just the best of a bad bunch.
  • Many skills testing platforms allow you to set a pass threshold, automatically rejecting candidates that don’t meet the grade. Especially if you’re deploying hiring tests at the screening phase, this is what saves time and helps you become a super-recruiter!

#7 – Iterate and Learn 

Once your hiring test is live to candidates, remember to continuously analyze the process and learn how to make things better. 

Many hiring tests go on an iterative journey of improvement and optimization. Remember to see both sides of the experience. Understand how the experience looks for candidates while reviewing the quality of candidates you’re getting out the other end. 

Summary

Digital technology is revolutionizing the recruitment process, and hiring tests are one of the best ways to optimize your performance. 

Whether it’s a skills test, async video interview, or personality test, there are so many great ways to add hiring assessments into your end-to-end process. As always, it’s all about finding what works for you and your business, so experiment with all types of pre-employment tests until you find the perfect mix for your next vacancy. 

Don’t forget to check out how we do it at Toggl Hire! It’s never too late to join the thousands of customers already taking advantage of Smart Tests and Video Intros in their recruitment process.

James Elliott

James Elliott is a Strategy Manager and Writer from London, UK. When not working on the day job, James writes on a variety of business and project management topics with a focus on content that enables readers to take action and improve their ways of working. You can check out James’ work on his website or by connecting on LinkedIn.

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