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3 Tests to Hire the Best

by Michael Mercer, Ph.D.


Question:  What’s the easiest, cheapest and quickest way to have profitable, productive, and honest employees?


Answer:  Hire profitable, productive, honest people!

Unfortunately, managers often hire underachievers or losers.  Fortunately, pre-employment tests give managers a simple-to-use, quick, customizable way to hire the best.


Only 1 Reason to Screen Applicants

The sole reason to assess applicants is to predict – or forecast – how an applicant will behave on-the-job BEFORE you hire the person.  It proves crucial to prediction this before hiring an applicant, rather than finding out the expensive way after you put the person on your payroll.

The main methods used to predict if an applicant will succeed on-the-job are

·          Interviews

·          Reference Checks

·          Pre-employment Tests


Alarming Research

Large-scale research discovered most interviewers and reference checks make lousy predictions of actual on-the-job performance.  Interviews and reference checks often are about as useful as flipping a coin!


On the bright side, pre-employment tests prove to be the best forecasters of actual on-the-job performance.  Reason:  Tests are developed with scientific research techniques so they objectively predict how an applicant will act on-the-job.  In contrast, interviews and reference checks typically offer only subjective “guesstimates” of an applicant’s work potential.


3 Types of Tests

Traits required for job success boil down to A + B + C:

A = Abilities – mental abilities or brainpower to do the job

B = Behavior – interpersonal skills, personality and motivations needed to succeed

C = Character – work ethic, trustworthiness, and no substance abuse

As such, A + B + C = Success on-the-job.  Importantly, you can use tests to predict an applicant’s Abilities, Behavior, and Character.


A = Abilities Tests

Did you ever hire someone and, later, horrifyingly discover the person had the IQ of tire pressure?  That person did not have brainpower to (a) learn the job or (b) solve problems on-the-job.  Abilities tests help you avoid hiring people who lack brainpower to learn and do the job.  Five abilities tests tell you how well the applicant handles


1.  Problem-Solving

2.  Vocabulary

3.  Arithmetic

4.  Grammar, Spelling, & Word Use

5.  Small Details


B = Behavior Tests

Each job requires crucial behaviors.  For example, my research shows superstar sales reps often are money motivated, optimistic, and assertive.  Many jobs require teamwork, friendliness, and customer service.  To help you, behavior tests forecast applicants’


1.  Interpersonal Skills

2.  Personality

3.  Motivations


For instance, a behavior test predicts three interpersonal skills:  (a) friendliness, (b) assertiveness, and (c) teamwork.  Five personality traits assessed include (a) energy level (b) optimism, (c) objectivity, (d) procedure-following, and (e) desire to focus on feelings or facts.  Motivations uncover if an applicant strives to do a good job to (a) make lots of money, (b) provide customer service, (c) do creative work, (d) exert power or control, or (e) increase knowledge.


C = Character Tests

Did you ever hire someone who had a lousy work ethicStole from your company?  Abused alcohol or drugs?  That cost you loads of money and time!  Character tests help managers avoid hiring problem employees.  Such tests predict an applicant’s attitudes on work-related character:


1.  Work Ethic

2.  Trustworthiness

3.  Substance Abuse


When you hire a “good apple” -- and avoid hiring a “bad apple” – you make a big difference in productivity and profits.


Customize Tests You Use

It is highly recommended you customize abilities and behavior tests for each job in your company.  Do this by conducting a benchmarking study.

Example:  Let’s say you want to hire profitable, productive sales reps.  Start by testing some of your current sales reps.  Statistically pinpoint your superstar sales reps’ typical test scores.  Then, when you test applicants, you quickly will see if the applicant scores similar to – or different than – your superstar sales reps.

You, of course, would prefer to hire applicants (1) whose test scores are similar to your superstars’ test scores – plus also (2) impress you in interviews and other assessments.  However, you would avoid hiring an applicant whose test scores are much different than your superstars’ test scores.


6 Steps to Hire the Best

You can hire the best using pre-employment tests by following these steps:


Step 1:  Find a skilled testing expert with strong professional credentials and expertise.  Just as you only want a skilled surgeon to perform surgery on you, you only want a skilled testing professional to help you, usually someone with a Ph.D. in testing.

Step 2:  List jobs for which your company will profit if you hire highly productive employees.

Step 3:  With your testing expert’s help, find tests that are (a) job-related, (b) valid, (c) reliable, and (d) customizable for jobs listed in Step 2.

Step 4:  Customize the tests with your testing expert’s guidance.  Statistically uncover test scores of your superstar employees in each job listed in Step 2.

Step 5:  Test applicants – and show preference for hiring applicants who score similar to your company’s most profitable, productive, superstar employees.

Step 6:  Benefit from increasing profits and productivity when you hire the best.




© Copyright 2005 Michael Mercer, Ph.D.

Michael Mercer, Ph.D., is America’s Hire the Best Expert™.  Many companies use pre-employment tests he created -- “Abilities & Behavior Forecaster™” Tests – and his 7-Step Hire the Best “System”™ you can view at   Dr. Mercer authored 5 books, including “Hire the Best -- & Avoid the Rest™” and also “Turning Your Human Resources Department into a Profit Center™.  You can (a) get a free subscription to his e-Newsletter at or (b) call him at (847) 382-0690