Employee Selection Tests: Types, Advantages & Disadvantages

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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Tammy Galloway

Tammy teaches business courses at the post-secondary and secondary level and has a master's of business administration in finance.

In this lesson, we'll define employee selection tests and look at different types of tests. You'll learn about nine different employee selection tests and their advantages and disadvantages.


In today's dynamic business environment, organizations use several methods to connect people's knowledge, skills, and competencies with the responsibilities and duties for a given job. A best practice in this area that is rapidly becoming an industry standard is to run an employee selection test, or an assessment that measures an individual's personality, aptitude, and/or abilities.

Jeff, the human resources (HR) director of GHI Corporation, hopes to integrate employee selection testing in the recruiting, training, and promotion processes at GHI. Today he's meeting with an HR consultant, Ronnie, to broaden his knowledge about employee selection tests.

Assessment Centers

Ronnie starts by telling Jeff about assessment centers. These aren't places employees go to take a test; rather, the phrase is used to describe a testing process that analyzes social, communication, and analytical skills. The tests consist of simulations and exercises to evaluate how an individual would perform in real-world situations. Assessment centers also use multiple trained raters to measure results.

The advantages of assessment centers include:

  • Reducing operational costs by finding the right candidate for the job
  • Allowing for informed decisions regarding training opportunities, and
  • Being less likely to differ by gender or race than other tests

The disadvantages of assessment centers include:

  • They may be costly to administer and rate
  • Manually assessing responses increases waiting time for results, and
  • Results may be subjective due to manual grading

Biographical Data

Biographical data instruments evaluate leadership, teamwork, and/or specific job-related skills, such as knowledge of certain software or accounting procedures. Ronnie tells Jeff that these tests gauge an individual's education, experience, and training as it relates to success in the job you're hiring for.

The advantages of biographical data are that:

  • It can be administered manually or electronically
  • It's cost effective for a large number of test takers, and
  • It effectively analyzes potential turnover and performance rates

The disadvantages of biographical data are that:

  • Individuals can easily manipulate the results by choosing favored answers
  • It provides minimal data for development and training, and
  • It may be expensive and time consuming to develop internally rather than using an off-the-shelf version

Cognitive Ability Tests

Cognitive tests measure an individual's logic, reasoning, reading comprehension, and mathematical abilities. Ronnie points out that these tests can provide organizations with valuable insight for high-skilled positions like engineering, accounting, and technology.

Some advantages of cognitive tests include:

  • Their ability to predict job performance for more complex positions
  • They are not easily manipulated by the test taker, and
  • They are cost effective for a large number of test takers

Some disadvantages of cognitive tests include:

  • Being more likely to differ by gender and race than other tests, and
  • They may be expensive and time consuming to develop internally rather than using an off-the-shelf version

Integrity Tests

Unethical decisions in today's dynamic global environment cost organizations millions and can result in a decrease in market share and increase in a company's churn rate (or non-renewing customers). Ronnie explains that integrity tests ask questions about an individual's past experiences relating to ethics and integrity, and/or provide scenarios in which they must choose the best ethical decision.

The advantages of integrity tests are that they:

  • Inform test takers of the importance of ethics within the organization
  • Can be administered manually or electronically, and
  • Are cost effective for a large number of test takers

The disadvantages of integrity tests include that:

  • The questions may be too direct or intrusive to some test takers, and
  • Individuals can easily manipulate the results by choosing favored answers


Jeff tells Ronnie that GHI recently revised their interview process by requiring their hiring manager to collaborate with a recruiter in order to develop interview questions with a rating scale for the job vacancy. Ronnie praises their efforts and explains that the new process will reduce non-merit-based evaluations and help focus the hiring process on analyzing an applicant's competencies required for the job.

Some advantages of interviews are that they:

  • Measure presentation and verbal skills
  • Candidates expect and are prepared for this type of employee selection tests, and
  • Can be cost effective, if time management strategies are used by the interviewer

Some disadvantages of interviews include:

  • Individuals can easily manipulate the results by answering questions favorably
  • They are time consuming for a large number of applicants, and
  • They're often subjective even if pre-determined questions are constructed with a rating system

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