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What is the Purpose of Pre-Employment Testing?

What is the Purpose of Pre-Employment Testing?

Updated June 14, 2021 Originally published December 22, 2020
Danny Sanchez, PT, CEAS

Pre-employment assessment testing

Pre-employment testing can tell you whether a hiring candidate is physically capable of performing the essential functions of the job. Many employers use various types of pre-employment tests to evaluate prospective new job candidates. Depending on the company and type of job, these tests might include:

• Cognitive testing
• Personality assessment
• Alcohol and/or drug testing
• A basic checkup or more detailed physical examination

Princeton University says traditional pre-employment physical exams are no longer useful. These exams were merely a “symptom checklist” used to identify the presence or absence of disease. There was no correlation between the exam and relevant job requirements. Instead, Princeton recommends that comprehensive post-offer screenings include:

• Accurate physical demands analysis
• Clearly defined criteria
• Standardized, unbiased test procedures
• Occupational and job-specific tests

Pre-employment testing that is conducted after a formal offer of employment (post-offer), or Post Offer Employment testing (POET), incorporates these components. It is job-specific.

You Must Make a Formal Job Offer First

Then you can require candidates to undergo POET testing. The candidate’s final acceptance depends on their successful completion of the assessment. Doing things in this order assures your company continues to meet ADA and EEOC guidelines.

Pre-Employment Testing Is Multi-Purpose
You can address three important company needs with POET:

1. Determine whether a candidate is physically able to perform essential tasks in a safe manner. POETs are a valid, reliable and consistent tool. You can compare an individual’s physical capabilities to the essential job tasks. If there’s a match, you can finalize the hiring process with confidence. But sometimes there is no match. That tells you this candidate is not a good choice for this position.

2. Create a baseline in case of future injury. Many workers have pre-existing conditions, and POETs helps uncover those issues. Fit-for-duty benchmarks also make it easier to track an injured worker’s recovery progress. You know when they are ready to return to work – or at least light duty.

3. Create more accurate job descriptions. This is crucial for successful, cost-effective hiring. Many new employees do not fully understand the physical demands of the job. This lack of awareness can increase their risk of injury. It also fuels job dissatisfaction that leads to high turnover rates. The job evaluation process that you use to create a POET can also help define the job description.

Post-offer testing protects potential employees as well as your company. Workers can avoid needless work-related injuries. And your company can avoid the costs associated with those injuries. That includes workers’ compensation claims costs and also potential work-related lawsuits. Consider all these benefits. You can:

• Avoid hiring mistakes. You don’t want to hire the wrong person for the job. Candidates don’t want a job they cannot do safely or well. Yet one in ten candidates is not physically able to perform the job. (PhysNet)
• Reduce workers’ comp injury rates – as much as 41% fewer injuries. (Anderson) POET reduces injury severity, too.
• Improve retention rates – as much as triple the retention rates of companies that don’t use POET. (Anderson)
• Reduce turnover, from 60.4% to 41.7%. (Gassoway)
• Save money on your hiring process and on workers’ comp claims. One study (Littleton) says you can save $18 per every dollar spent. Another study (Harbin) says you can save $14. Either way, the bottom-line value is significant.
• Limit legal exposure and liability. You can identify potential health or safety risks before they become problems.

Adopting pre-employment testing helps you achieve a safer, more productive working environment.

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