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What To Look For In A Pre-Employment Test

What To Look For In A Pre-Employment Test

Updated June 9, 2021 Originally published January 06, 2016
Danny Sanchez, PT, CEAS


As a workers’ comp pro, you’re smart to recommend that your company implement post-offer employment testing (POET). But every pre-employment test is not created equal. When you know what to look for, you can help your company create the most valuable POET program.  

Above all else, your pre-employment test must comply with ADA and EEOC regulations:

  • You cannot administer the test until after you have made a formal job offer
  • Everyone in the same job category has to take the same test
  • You cannot use test results to violate ADA regulations
  • Personal medical histories must be separated from other employment records

You can meet these legal requirements and call it “good.” But why not create an assessment that’s truly great? Doing the bare minimum doesn’t fully support your company’s hiring efforts. And it doesn’t fully support your workers’ compensation program either. In today’s tough business environment, you need every advantage.

Look for These Elements in a Pre-Employment Test

Your test should be:

  • Job-related. The test must relate directly to the specific job. Otherwise, it will be irrelevant. Results may be accurate, but they won’t be valid or meaningful to the position.
  • Based on a task-specific job evaluation also known as a Job Demands Analysis. You want your physical demands analysis to be accurate. Therefore, you should conduct the analysis under real jobsite working conditions.
  • Standardized, unbiased test procedures. Everyone takes the same test, in the same way.

Your test should enable you to:

  • Confirm the person you want to hire is able to perform all physical demands and essential tasks in a safe manner.
  • Avoid hiring mistakes. One in ten candidates is not able to perform the work safely. Hiring the wrong person wastes everyone’s time. It also costs you money. It increases risk of future injuries and turnover, and it reduces worker productivity. Imagine improving each of these areas by 10%!
  • Create a “physical baseline” for each new employee. If they become injured later on, their doctor and physical therapist will have real measurements for comparison. They will also know if the employee had a pre-existing physical limitation that could affect their recovery.
  • Develop accurate, realistic job descriptions. Candidates who clearly understand what a specific job entails are more likely to stick around. Doctors and physical therapists can also see exactly what the injured worker must be able to do. They can develop a more effective plan of care with realistic return-to-work goals.

Each of these bullet points represents an opportunity for your company. To make the most of each opportunity, you need to think strategically about your POET program. Job demands analysis conducted on-site identifies the exact physical and positional demands of the job

  • That job-specific analysis allows you to create an ADA-compliant employment test
  • Your assessment will include a combination of standardized physical tests as well as tests that emphasize job replication tasks

Too often, ergonomic assessments and job site analyses are based on general risk factors associated with a particular employee. Also, post offer tests are based on simulation of work tasks and do not replicate real-life work environments. Furthermore, baseline testing may be missing altogether. That further reduces the future value of the pre-employment test.

What Might Your Company Gain from a Top-Notch POET Program?

One On-Site Physio client conducted their own internal one-year pilot program. Here’s what they found:

  • Participating locations reduced workers’ comp claims by 30%. And they reduced incurred costs by 64%.
  • Non-participating locations had 8% more workers’ comp claims. And they incurred a 55% increase in costs.

Every company is different. But incorporating the right elements ensures your pre-employment test will be most effective. And it will be most cost-effective down the road.

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