Pre-Employment Testing – Is HR Aware?

DOL Cracking Down on Use of Hiring Tests

On a daily basis, HR Professionals are shockingly discovering that managers are using pre-employment testing without their permission or knowledge.

Most often, managers find tests off the internet and administer them without letting HR  know. When investigated, the hiring manager was not aware of or had ever heard of the Uniform Guidelines Employee Selection Procedurees which employers covreed by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Federal Contractors must follow (  The violations were numerous:

  • not collecting race/gender data
  • not saving test results
  • not calculating pass rates by race/gender 

Additionally, it has been discovered that passing rates were arbitrarily set at 70% (“...because that was what the passing grade was in High School…)

One attorney, Alissa Horvits, with Roffman Horvitz in McLean, VA joked : “That is why HR professionals keep antacids in their desk drawers”.

Cases have been uncovered by the OFCCP that discrimanatory tests were  being used that adversley affected minorities applying for entry level positions in  Richmond, VA. Further, the test was not even job-related nor did it meet the Uniform Guidelines. The company agreed to pay $175,000 in back pay and interest to the applicants and to revise it’s hiring/record keeping practices to remain in compliance with EO 11246.

Executive Order 11246 mandates that employers who administer pre-employment tests collect certain data, requres certain calculations be performed and prove the test to be non-discriminatory AND job-related.

Many types of pre-employment tests exist:

  • Job Sample Tests
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Cognitive Ability Tests
  • Cognative Skills Tests
  • Physical Ability Tests
  • Physical Agility Tests
  • Personality Tests
  • …and many more

Any of these can go awry if not administered correctly and are not in compliance.

Employers should consider alternative methods to pre-employment testing. If you are purchasing “canned” products to use in pre-employment testing, be sure to ask the vendor if it has been validated.  

Do not take the vendor’s word that is validated. Ask for the technical manual and validation. It would be wise to have it reviewed by an independent Industrial/Occupational psycholohgist prior to administration.

Source: Allen Smith, J.D. Workplace Law Management, SHRM





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