The Impact of Pre-employment Assessment on Wise Hiring and Employee Engagement

By Kent Noel

Employee engagement is generally defined as the emotional attachment an employee has to his or her organization and its goals.  The concept has been around for more than three decades, but currently a chief concern for businesses both big and small.  In a 2014 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends study, 78% of business leaders rated retention and engagement as either urgent or important.  Additionally, a 2013 Gallup survey found that 87% of the global workforce is disengaged with their organizations.  These findings, in combination, beg the question, how does an organization meaningfully enhance engagement?  

The Case for Active Employee Engagement

Josh Bersin, is the Founder and Principal at Bersin by Deloitte, a leading provider of research based membership programs in the areas human resources, talent, and learning.  In 2014, he wrote in Forbes about the importance of improving employee engagement.  In part, he emphasized the need to move beyond reactionary and responsive approaches such as the traditional engagement survey.

More specifically, he noted that it is important to proactively build “…an organization that is exciting, fulfilling, meaningful, and fun by redesigning jobs, changing work environments, adding new benefits, continuously developing managers, and investing in people.”  He went on to comment that such organizations “…make sure people are screened for culture and job fit (the wrong person cannot be ‘engaged’ regardless of what HR does).”

Improving Employee Engagement Using Assessment Tools

So how does one select the right person engagement-wise?  One viable option is by utilizing pre-employment testing.  Over the past decade, assessment specialists have witnessed a growing trend in which employers not only want a reliable analysis of a candidate’s job fit, but accurate predictions of culture fit including shared values.

Effective leaders realize that having job proficient employees is often of little use if, over the long haul, they do not fit in and are highly detached from their work environment.  Assessment, done comprehensively and ethically, examines critical factors (and how these all come together to predict long-term satisfaction and engagement):

  • intellect
  • integrity
  • communication styles
  • core personality traits
  • problem solving abilities
  • emotional intelligence
  • temperament
  • values 

While comprehensive assessments can be effective, there are challenges with obtaining successful results.  Effective assessments typically entail hiring experts who are adept at pulling together information from multiple assessment measures as opposed to overly relying on one instrument, stretching it well beyond its intended purposes.  Another challenge comes from choosing assessments. To be effective, avoid glossy, well-packaged instruments that have good face validity, but lack desired psychometrics in terms of reliability and validity.  Make sure, too, that you have a real partnership with the assessment expert(s) with whom you are teaming and that they truly understand the complexities and nuances of your specific culture, not just your industry.       

Hiring Right

In the end, a company’s progressively doing all it feasibly can to maximize engagement will be for naught if the employee/prospective employee is not selected to embrace what is being offered.  Pre-employment assessment, conducted ethically and thoughtfully, often results in companies and organizations getting it right the first time, hiring-wise. This may ensure that those selected are a good culture fit and thus more likely to be fully engaged from the outset.  Hiring right beats fixing later every time.   



Bersin, J. (2014). It’s time to rethink the “employee engagement” issue. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2014/04/10/its-time-to-rethink-the-employee-engagement-issue/#3c8d643f1827


Crabtree, S. (2013). Worldwide, 13% of employees are engaged at work. Gallup. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/165269/worldwide-employees-engaged-work.aspx


Deloitte Consulting LLP (2014). Global human capital trends: engaging the 21st century workforce. Retrieved from https://dupress.deloitte.com/dup-us-en/focus/human-capital-trends/2014.html



Kent Noel, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, MCC has seventeen years of experience in the areas of industrial psychology and career counseling and is currently the Co-owner of Career Life Solutions, LLC in Lee’s Summit, MO.  In addition, he is a past-president of the Missouri Counseling Association and remains active within the organization.  He can be reached by phone at 913-579-8531 or email at kent.noel@careerlifesolutions.net             


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Janet Wall   on Monday 05/01/2017 at 07:49 PM

Pre-employment testing of what? and How? The bullet list is not very helpful. It don't know what to do with your suggestions. Use only valid and reliable assessment - of course. But?....

M. Boettger   on Monday 05/22/2017 at 04:05 PM

Pre-employment assessment is fraught with potential legal challenges if the company cannot prove content validity which is not mentioned here. Many employers moved away from this practice years ago as they were unable to prove in court that the assessments were proven to have content validity. This is an important issue to be researched prior to assessing candidates particularly in large organizations who have multiple cultures to consider (e.g. the culture of the company, division, function, department, etc.).

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the comments shown above are those of the individual comment authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of this organization.