Save Time Hiring: Test Candidates Early

Posted on June 17, 2020 by P.K. Maric

When is the best time to give job candidates to a skill test? Did you even know that there was a best time? Because there is. The order in which you screen and interview candidates is vital to selecting the best candidates. Plus, it can save time for both you and the candidates.

We’ve mentioned how to make a good screening test and write great questions, but you also need to know when to use hiring tests.


The Typical Hiring Process

For many companies, the hiring process looks something like this:

  • Resume review
  • Phone interview
  • In-person interview
  • Skill test

This is wrong. If a candidate says they have excellent accounting skills or experience with Java programming, you won’t be able to verify those skills until late in the process. If it turns out that they’re not as good as they claim to be, you’ve wasted your time and theirs.


Start with a Skill Test

That’s why you should start your hiring process with the skill test. The test doesn’t need to be long or complicated; you just need to see which applicants have the necessary skills for the job. The point is to filter out candidates that aren’t as good as they claim to be. If you need to make an in-depth comparison of candidates, you can always do a more extensive test of skills and knowledge later, as part of the interview.

You can send an initial skill test to candidates after they apply for the job, or even include a link to the test directly in the job ad. That way, candidates apply by taking the test.

Don’t waste time inviting candidates to a lengthy interview only to find out that they don’t quite meet the requirements for the job. Test their knowledge and skills first.


Which Job Screening Test Is Best?

Not all screening methods are created equal. We can see which methods work and which don’t by looking at their predictive validity. This is a measure of how well a screening method predicts work performance. A meta-analysis of thousands of studies has shown which methods are the most accurate, and which ones you should avoid. 

Unfortunately, many commonly used screening methods are terrible at predicting work performance. Even education has almost no correlation with work performance.

So which methods are actually worth using? Out of many screening methods, only 4 have a relatively high predictive validity and are effective:

  • Job knowledge tests – This method asks candidates to demonstrate specific knowledge required for the job. 
  • General mental ability (GMA) tests – Often referred to as reasoning tests. This method involves the candidate solving generic problems. It doesn’t guarantee that they have the required knowledge or skill for the job, but it’s still a good indicator that they could perform well, even if they need more training.
  • Structured interviews – This method involves the same interviewers asking all candidates the same questions, in the same order, writing down the answers, and scoring them. That way, candidates can be objectively compared using the same criteria.
  • Work-sample tests – A small sample of the actual work the job requires.

While these methods are all relatively effective, none of them are so good that they can be relied on alone. So you need to combine these methods to get the best results.


Include a Test Link the Job Description

Ideally, you should test candidates’ basic skills before you do anything else. You can put a test link right in the job description, and candidates can apply to the job by taking the test.

Initial tests like this one can quickly filter out applicants and help you find the best candidates from the start. Most companies do this by screening resumes, but this is a bad practice for several reasons. First, people may exaggerate or misrepresent their skills on a resume. Second, it’s difficult to objectively compare candidates using resumes alone.

A short test of core skills required for the job will accomplish the same thing while being far more accurate and requiring far less of your time. Later on, you can give candidates another test that evaluates their knowledge more thoroughly so that you can compare performance and see who the best candidate is.

But to get to that point, you need to filter out people who don’t meet the necessary criteria specified in your job ad. 

Many candidates apply for jobs they are barely qualified for. I don’t blame them for doing this. If someone is desperately looking for a job, they have nothing to lose by applying to every ad they can on the off chance they’ll slip through the cracks in your hiring process. Unfortunately, this creates a problem for you. Luckily, starting your hiring process with a skill test solves the problem.


How to Invite Candidates to a Test

There are two ways you can invite candidates to a TestDome screening test—via URL or email invite.


Invite via URL

Generate a URL to put in your online job application so candidates can apply to the job by taking the test. The test URL has no expiration date, but it will deactivate after the candidate limit is reached.

Invite via URL


Invite via email

If people have already applied to your job, and you’ve narrowed down the list of applicants you want to test, you can invite candidates to the test via email. Each candidate will receive a unique link that can only be activated once, which helps prevent cheating.

Invite via email



You should give job candidates a short skill test as soon as possible in your hiring process, ideally as the first step. This will help you filter out unsuitable candidates and narrow down your candidate list quickly so you can focus on the best possible candidates. This speeds up your hiring process significantly.

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