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Interview process – To test or not to test

Interview process to test or not to testPre-employment testing is a method used widely by businesses to find out applicants’ suitability for a given role. Tests vary from technical to psychometric, ‘day in the life’ job previews and a whole variety in-between – depending on the type of role the business is recruiting for.

So, what’s the best approach? To test, or not to test? That is the question.

To test

Allows you to screen applicants and build a shortlist

First and foremost, tests allow you to screen and shortlist candidates in a structured way – particularly helpful if you have a large number of applicants. For example, if 100 candidates apply for a job, it isn’t feasible to interview everyone – the time and cost implication would be too great. However, having tests in place streamlines the recruitment process, leaving you with a shortlist of candidates who meet your criteria. Then you’re in a position to take it to the next stage. For example, our technical tests ensure the necessary IT skills are in place – vital for a role within the financial technology (FinTech) sector.

Everyone gets a fair chance

Giving the same test to all candidates means everyone starts on an equal footing. This means hirers avoid becoming subjective during the recruitment process (a trap which is easy to fall into if you’re not careful) and ensures businesses remain objective.

Forces you to set criteria

It’s easy to lose sight of your ideal candidate during the recruitment process, which could ultimately lead to employing the wrong person. That’s why pre-employment tests are effective. They force you to focus on the type of person you want to bring in to your business through a set of defined criteria, and the results provide you with an indication of whether they’ll be a good fit.

Reduces employee turnover

Pre-employment tests can provide a great deal of insight into candidates’ behaviours and thought processes. By gaining this understanding from the beginning, you’re more likely to find a candidate who matches the long-term vision of the business, which is important for employee retention. Without this insight, you might find yourself in a cycle of re-recruiting for the same role, which is counter-productive. We offer psychometric testing to gather this valuable insight.


Not to test

Candidates aren’t one size fits all

While tests have their place, they don’t necessarily take into consideration the whole person and their potential. You remember what it was like at school – some people thrive under test conditions, others crumble. That doesn’t automatically mean they aren’t as capable!

Tests aren’t always directly relevant

Similarly, tests aren’t always relevant to the applicant’s day-to-day role, and that could easily affect their test performance. Asking a candidate to do a task that they’re not used to doing is like speaking in a foreign language. It’ll take them by surprise, and they won’t perform well. Again, this doesn’t automatically mean they aren’t suitable for the role; it just means you’ve given them a task that doesn’t allow for a realistic reflection. The equivalent would be us asking all our candidates to sit the hundreds of IT technical tests just because they’re in the FinTech industry!

The cost implication

Naturally, tests cost money, so it’s important to ensure you’re using them to maximum effect. Are they helping you find the right candidate(s), or are they just part of the process? If your response is the latter, you might want to reconsider.

Can put applicants off

For some, the thought of undergoing tests might dissuade them from applying altogether, even though they might be ideal for the role. Perhaps they had a bad experience previously – whatever their reasoning, they don’t pursue the role and you potentially lose a good candidate.


There’s no question that tests can add value to the interview process when relevant to the role and designed with a clear purpose in mind (Chartered Institute of Personal Development). However, they should be viewed as part of the process rather than the defining method.

We often use technical and psychometric tests with clients as part of the recruitment process (let us know if you need our help with either of these), but we also combine this with our knowledge of the market, our extensive database of skilled candidates and primarily, listening to clients’ needs. This enables us to build the full picture and recruit the best candidate for the role. Our advice? Avoid tunnel vision and enlist the help of a recruitment company experienced in the full process (not that we’re biased, of course!).


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