I frequently get asked whether pre-employment tests and background checks are legal. The short answer is yes. Companies can test applicants for employment. The longer answer is that the tests must be non-discriminatory and the tests must be properly administered.
Why Employers Use Employment Tests
Employers often use tests and other selection procedures to screen applicants for hire. The types of tests and selection procedures utilized include cognitive tests, personality tests, medical examinations, credit checks, and background checks.
Companies can legally use these tests, as long as they don't use to them to discriminate based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, disability, or age (40 or older). Employment tests must be validated for the jobs they are being used to hire for and for the purposes for which they are being used.
Online Pre-Employment Tests
Depending on the type of test, employment testing can be conducted online or in the employer's office. Online employment tests are often used for pre-employment testing and assessment. Utilizing online testing eliminates the need for the candidate to visit the company's office or for the company to have to administer the test.
Types of Employment Tests
Personality tests assess the degree to which a person has certain traits or dispositions or predict the likelihood that a person will engage in certain conduct.
Talent Assessment Tests
Talent assessments, also called pre-employment tests or career tests, are used to help an employer identify candidates that will be a good fit for jobs. Talent assessments help predict a new hire’s performance and retainability.
Pre-Employment Physical Exams
Employers may require a pre-employment physical examination to determine the suitability of an individual for a job.
There are several types of drugs tests that candidates for employment may be asked to take. The types of drug tests which show the presence of drugs or alcohol include urine drug tests, hair drug or alcohol testing, saliva drug screen, and sweat drug screen.
Cognitive tests measure a candidate's reasoning, memory, perceptual speed and accuracy, and skills in arithmetic and reading comprehension, as well as knowledge of a particular function or job.
Emotional Intelligence Testing
Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability of an individual to understand his or her own emotions and the emotions of others. Testing job applicants for their emotional intelligence (in the form of psychological-based tests) is a growing employment trend.
Physical Ability Tests
Physical ability tests measure the physical ability of an applicant to perform a particular task or the strength of specific muscle groups, as well as strength and stamina in general.
Sample Job Tasks
Sample job tasks, including performance tests, simulations, work samples, and realistic job previews, assess a candidate's performance and aptitude on particular tasks.
Background and Credit Checks
Criminal background checks provide information on arrest and conviction history. Credit checks provide information on credit and financial history.
English Proficiency Tests
English proficiency tests determine the candidate's English fluency.
Lie Detector Tests
The Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) prohibits most private employers from using lie detector tests, either for pre-employment screening or during the course of employment.
The private web sites, and the information linked to both on and from this site, are opinion and information. While I have made every effort to link accurate and complete information, I cannot guarantee it is correct. Please seek legal assistance, or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct. This information is not legal advice and is for guidance only.