What is Pre-Employment Testing? Definition, Types & Benefits | Toggl Blog
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Answering Your Questions – What is Pre-Employment Skills Testing?

James Elliott James Elliott Last Updated:

No matter which side of the recruitment process you find yourself on, pre-employment testing is going to be on your radar. Gone are the days of simply handing in a resume as modern-day candidates have to prove they have the skills needed to do the job! 

In this article, we’ll help candidates and recruiters understand exactly what pre-employment testing is. We’ll start off with a definition before looking at the benefits pre-employment testing brings to organizations and what candidates can expect when facing up to some testing.  

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What is Pre-Employment Testing?

Organizations use pre-employment testing to assess candidates on their aptitude, knowledge, and skills relative to the role they’re applying for. 

While in the past, organizations have relied on resumes, references, and interviews to assess a candidate’s viability for a position, with the rise of digital technology there are now many ways to truly put a candidate’s abilities to the test.  

And when you think about it, objective pre-employment testing just makes sense. After all,  just because someone writes a good resume, doesn’t make them a great account manager. And let’s be honest, it’s not hard to get a glowing reference from a former colleague that’s also a good friend.

With that in mind, pre-employment testing provides an effective and reliable way to ensure your candidates have the capabilities, personality, and attitude needed for the job. 

The Types of Pre-Employment Tests

When it comes to the types of pre-employment tests, they primarily break down into four key categories: 

  • Aptitude Tests
  • Personality Tests
  • Skills Tests
  • Integrity Tests

Let’s take a look at each in turn. 

Aptitude Tests

Perhaps the most common pre-employment test is an aptitude test. They are used to test the candidate’s general intelligence in areas such as critical thinking, problem-solving, situational awareness, verbal reasoning, and time management.  

Especially for technical or managerial roles, problem-solving or critical thinking skills are an absolute must, so it makes sense to test a candidate on these upfront. 

There are many places online you can find aptitude tests to practice, but as a general rule, you can’t directly revise/practice for an aptitude test. Typically, the aptitude required for a role is something a candidate does or doesn’t have!

Personality Tests

Organizations use personality tests to get an insight into what makes a candidate tick and how they like to work. While a candidate needs technical skills, they also need to fit into the organizational culture and team dynamic. 

Depending on the model chosen by an organization, the exact traits which are tested can vary. But in general, organizations want to know how extroverted or introverted candidates are, understand what motivates them, and assess how they would deal with high-pressure situations. 

Unlike other job assessments, there aren’t right or wrong answers when it comes to personality tests. This can be unnerving for candidates, with evidence showing candidates’ edge towards inputting what they think the recruiter wants to hear rather than submitting genuine answers. 

Skills Tests

Pre-employment testing has boomed in the past five years with the rise of skills testing. 

Skills tests assess the candidate on their ability to do the job they are applying for. Whereas aptitude tests focus on general ability, skills tests focus on the technical knowledge, expertise, and aptitude needed for a particular role. 

For example, skills tests may test a software engineer’s knowledge of a particular coding language or test a digital marketer on the latest SEO best practices. Skills tests are great for testing soft skills, too, allowing you to practically test a candidate’s communication, creativity, and leadership. 

At Toggl Hire, skills testing is our bread and butter. If you want to know why we think it makes the recruitment process fairer, more effective, and far more enjoyable for the candidate, read our manifesto here

Integrity Tests

Last but by no means least, the final type of pre-employment test is the integrity test. Where the other tests we have covered focus on a candidate’s ability, integrity tests are used by organizations to ensure they only hire candidates who align with their company rules. 

Candidates get asked about their attitude to drugs/alcohol, anger/violence in the workplace, strong political views, and their honesty regarding employment. 

These tests may also include a physical drugs test, medical exam, or security vetting, depending on the country, organization, and job role. 

Again, these aren’t tests you can revise for. The questions faced in these tests shouldn’t come as a surprise and will ultimately align with the employer’s code of conduct. 

What is pre-employment testing?

For the Recruiter – Why Use Pre-Employment Testing? 

If you’re a recruiter reading this article, this next section is for you. Now that you know what pre-employment testing is and the types of testing available, here are three reasons why your organization should be implementing testing. 

  • You’ll Only Progress The Best Candidates. As a recruiter, your time is precious. Inserting pre-employment testing into the beginning of your recruitment process means you only take forward legitimate candidates.

    This also means much of your job assessment is completed upfront, and you can optimize precious interview time on areas such as case studies, personal terms, and cultural alignment.
  • It Removes Bias. One of the key benefits of using digital pre-employment testing is that it helps eliminate bias. As human beings, we subconsciously favor certain individuals over others.

    By using consistent questioning on a platform that levels the playing field, pre-employment testing offers every candidate the same opportunity to showcase their skills. This means that no matter the candidates’ race, gender, ethnicity, or religion, you’ll receive nothing but detailed information on their performance.
  • It Mitigates Risk. The ultimate goal of the recruitment process is to find a new rockstar employee for your organization. While hiring managers will assist in the process, if the hire goes wrong, it’s the recruitment team that takes the blame.

    Pre-employment testing gives you a consistent, measurable, and evidence-based job assessment for all of your candidates. This helps you make data-driven decisions on who to hire. If all the right questions are in place, this maximizes your chances of finding a candidate that can not only do the job, but fits straight into the company culture and your ways of working. 

For the Candidate – 3 Tips For Nailing Pre-Employment Tests

And a swift one to finish. If you’re a candidate preparing to face some pre-employment testing, here are three quick-fire tips to help you put your best foot forward. 

Tip #1 – Get Practicing

If you Google any of the pre-employment testing types we’ve covered in this article, you’ll find hundreds of examples out there to practice on. Remember to focus your efforts on what you can control, though, so swat up on your aptitude and skills tests in particular. 

Tip #2 – Be Yourself

Remember to be yourself through the testing process by answering the questions honestly. If instead, you try to answer as you think the recruiter wants you to, you’ll risk getting caught out later on in the process. This is especially true for personality tests where there are no right or wrong answers.

Tip #3 – Don’t Forget to Research

Many candidates focus so much on themselves that they forget to do any other prep for their pre-employment tests. Make sure you put some effort into learning about the organization you’re applying to, as you may be tested on that knowledge here too! 


Candidates and recruiters alike often find themselves asking, ‘what is pre-employment testing?’

In 2021, it’s so easy to apply for a role, so organizations need the ability to pre-test their applicants to know who to take forward into the recruitment process. 

Whether it’s aptitude, skills, or personality testing, organizations use pre-employment tests to get to know their candidates and only take the best ones forward. As a candidate, you have to be prepared for this and do your prep to showcase your abilities. 

If you’re an organization looking to enhance your pre-employment testing, why not finish up by taking a look at how we do skills testing at Toggl Hire. Not only does it make the recruitment process fairer, it creates a far more enjoyable experience for candidates too! 

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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