Staffing agencies need to verify and qualify an individual’s skills beyond just checking their employment record in order to meet the demands of businesses today. Businesses expect more from staffing agencies now than ever before. Testing applicants before referring them to an employer or for a particular position allows the staffing agency to assure that they are providing businesses with high quality candidates. If a staffing agency isn’t able to send a company the very best candidate for the job, then there’s really no point in a company employing a staffing agency. Without testing applicants, staffing agencies would cease to be useful and go out of business. A good staffing agency utilizes a variety of tests to get a true sense of the applicant’s abilities and how well they would fit into a particular job. There are many types of pre-employment testing: drug tests, integrity tests, health tests, I. Q. tests, personality tests and aptitude tests, such as math or typing tests, software skill tests, and a wide variety of skill tests. Some of these tests are extremely valuable for a staffing agency to use, and some of these tests need to be avoided entirely.
The first aspect a staffing agency must consider before utilizing a test is the test’s validity. If a test isn’t reliable, then it is of little value to potential employers and clients of the staffing agency. Tests must be validated to assure that they are measuring what they claim to be testing. For instance, if a typing test consisted of the applicant typing potential marketing strategies that they believe the company could use, it isn’t solely testing how fast or accurately that person can type. Also, a test must be validated that is fairly, accurately and consistently measuring what it is intended to by the staffing agency. Validation usually occurs through multiple trials before the test is implanted by the staffing agency. If the agency is obtaining tests from a third party, then they should require that company to provide information on how the test was validated as well as how it is scored in order to be confident that the test is reliable. If the staffing agency is developing their own pre-employment tests, then they need to assure that the test doesn’t ask for information that could be considered personal and private, and that no part of the test could be construed as offensive to any segment of society.
Taking steps to guarantee a test doesn’t ask for private information and is inoffensive is just a part of assuring that all tests conform to all pertinent Equal Employment Opportunity laws. This consists of laws at the federal level, the state level and the local level. If tests aren’t rigorously examined to verify that they do not violate any Equal Employment Opportunity laws, then the employer could find themselves the subject of a lawsuit brought by candidates from the staffing agency, and the staffing agency itself could face legal trouble if they use any tests that aren’t aligned with all levels of Equal Employment Opportunity laws. All of the questions on a staffing agency test should directly relate to the position the candidate is seeking. A staffing agency should be cautious about using an I. Q. test for determining if the candidate has the minimum I. Q. required for the position, since I. Q. tests are often not developed professionally and may not be a reliable way of determining a person’s I. Q. A staffing agency needs to be leery of making a minimum I. Q. a requirement for any position, and it’s the staffing agency’s duty to dissuade a client from using I. Q. as a requirement for a particular position. Any company will have a difficult time proving in court why an applicant with an I. Q. of 112 is qualified, but an applicant with a 111 I. Q. is not qualified for the same position.
All aptitude tests must also be entirely relevant to the particular position. Integrity tests do not violate any Equal Employment Opportunity laws, but they should still be viewed with skepticism. No test is going to be a perfect predictor of the integrity of the employee. Health tests must be carefully considered before a staffing agency decides to require them. The test would need to be relevant to specific requirements of the specific position, and not an indication of overall health. Personality tests are of limited value to a potential employer, as they can’t be used as an accurate predictor of behavior either. Some employers want a staffing agency to perform drug testing. Drug tests must be professionally administered and how the results are used must meet all privacy laws. Any company should consider how important drug test results are to any position. Obviously any position that involves driving or operating heavy machinery is one that can benefit from drug testing. As more states legalize marijuana for medical use or recreational use, even though marijuana remains illegal at the national level, the staffing agency needs to carefully evaluate how they use drug tests in a rapidly changing environment. In order to do this, the staffing agency needs to be informed about any new laws and any court cases that could set a precedent involving employer drug testing. This issue will remain an evolving one for the foreseeable future.
Just as an employer cannot legally drug test only certain individuals and not others that hold the same position, staffing agencies need to rigorously examine the value of all tests and then ensure that they are administered fairly, with no bias, to everyone who applies for a particular position. If any test is administered inconsistently, the staffing agency could face legal issues. Perhaps most importantly, the staffing agency should not solely rely on tests to recommend applicants to employers. Tests are only one component of evaluating a candidate and must be used in conjunction with interviews, review and verification of the candidate’s work experience, and background checks where applicable. Tests are not a substitution for a thorough evaluation of a candidate, only one component of it.