How to Study for Pre-Employment Tests

Finding solution cutout.png


Kathy Lavinder
Owner and Executive Director of Security & Investigative Placement Consultants

If you’re looking for a new opportunity in fraud prevention, detection or investigation, you should be aware that it’s a competitive landscape. According to, the average number of applicants applying for a job these days is 250. As specialized recruiters for investigative roles, we regularly receive 500 or more applicants for jobs we post.

Human resource staff and hiring managers are looking for ways to reduce the time and cost of finding the perfect candidate. Pre-employment tests are used to gather information on a candidates’ knowledge, skills, ability, personality and other characteristics.

As a candidate these tests may seem time consuming or even invasive. Take a more positive view because they can provide an opportunity to demonstrate your superior candidacy. Consider taking these tests on your own to assess your abilities. Further understanding your strengths, weaknesses and ideal culture will only make you a better candidate.

Hiring managers seek to identify tests that measure aspects related to the requirements of their role but it’s important for employers to ensure the tests are valid, reliable and non-discriminatory. The “Mental Measurements Yearbook,” a source for objective, professional-quality reviews of commercially available tests, is respected and widely cited in the field of psychological assessment. If chosen and administered correctly, pre-employment tests can inform hiring decisions.

Tests that are growing in popularity include:

  1. Knowledge tests – These measure the information needed to perform a job. Many employers are using online applicant tracking systems and recruiters to pose standardized questions and then rely on additional detailed in-person interviews for knowledge assessments. 
  2. Skill assessments – These are learned behaviors needed to successfully perform a job. Skills are best determined by having candidates perform them. Current examples include computer literacy or coding tests, typing tests, data checking tests, presentations or writing assignments. These tests can be time consuming and are typically only used in the advanced stage of the recruiting process when the candidate pool has been narrowed.
  3. Ability tests – Abilities are observable behaviors needed to perform the mental and physical requirements of a role such as the standard IQ test. The General Aptitude Test measures logical, verbal and numerical reasoning. Free practice tests can be found online. Employers may also require a physical ability test. Hiring managers should ensure the type and timing of those tests are legal under the American Disabilities Act and are not biased based on gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation.  
  4. Personality tests – These can help assess whether a candidate will be a good cultural fit. The most popular test is the Myers Briggs, but the Big Five Model is also popular. The limitations to these tests are that many candidates answer based on what they think employers desire in a candidate.
  5. Integrity tests – These are designed to measure applicants’ propensity toward undesirable behaviors such as lying or stealing. Clearly, fraud fighters should have no problem acing these!
  6. Substance abuse tests – Most employers now only use these when a contingent offer has been made.

While pre-employment tests should not be the only factor driving hiring decisions, use of tests is on the rise. Hiring managers should take advantage of the valuable insights some standardized tests provide, but also be aware of the limitations. Candidates need to be informed about what is being tested and answer honestly to give a full picture of your candidacy.