Interviewing and Testing Prospective Employees

Testing applicants has proven to be the most accurate predictor of actual job performance. If you are considering testing, the tests administered should adhere to legal guidelines.

  • Tests must assess skills pertaining to the particular job
  • Tests must not pose a barrier to persons with handicaps or disabilities
  • Tests must be justified for the position
  • Tests must not pose a barrier for equality in employment – for example, using dialectal language.

Tests must not be biased. There are individuals who are proficient at administering tests commercially; these vendors should have proper credentials and be reputable. The wise business owner will get legal advice before adopting any form of test, but often you are able to purchase standard tests which you can administer on your own.

There are different types of tests used in screening applicants.

  1. Proficiency tests – typing, word processing, short hand.
  2. Aptitude tests – measure capability of learning a job and acquiring job-related skills
  3. Personality and psychological tests – tests for mental disabilities and personality defects such as the Rorschach Inkblot Test, Minnesota Multiphasic Inventory (MMPI) and others to be interpreted by a qualified psychologist. These test types leave an employer open to litigation.
  4. Physical tests – measure health and physical conditioning. The criteria for asking for such testing must directly relate to the job. It is illegal, under federal law, to ask for a pre-employment physical.
  5. Drug Screening – determines illegal substance abuse. Some jobs are required by law to have drug screening, i.e., pilots; and tests must be confidential.
  6. Polygraphs – Lie detectors to measure stress induced changes in the body, like blood pressure. The Polygraph Protection Act (1988) severely restricts private employers use of polygraph tests. You can’t ask a prospective employee to submit to a polygraph.

Effective Interviewing

Effective job interviewing requires time, effort, concentration and preparation in advance. Studies show that structured interviews resulting in overall positive ratings for the candidate correlate with successful job performance. The interview and interviewer should have the following characteristics:

  1. The interviewer is thoroughly acquainted with the job requirements
  2. The interviewer is thoroughly acquainted with the information provided by the applicant (cover letters, resumes and applications)
  3. Prioritized areas of focus – what, in the applicant’s background, deserves the most attention?
  4. Well-thought-out written questions
  5. Comfortable surroundings which are free of interruptions
  6. Workable schedule – allows you to research what you need to know, allows the interviewer and applicant to be on time
  7. All questions and answers are important in eliciting information about the applicant
  8. The interviewer must be a good listener
  9. The interviewer should be at ease in asking for more information – open-ended questions are great, but closed ended questions are useful, and hypothetical questions related to the job illuminate.
  10. The applicant should be treated respectfully and given every opportunity to answer questions
  11. Get the information needed from the applicant, evaluation and judgement follows after terminating the interview
  12. The interview should be adept at taking notes
  13. As in the application, the interviewer should not ask questions that can be of a discriminatory nature
  14. Close the interview by summarizing what has been learned of the applicant and indicate what the applicant can expect next in the process of filling the vacancy

Another guide is a book named “Quality Interviewing”.

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