Employment testing refers to the process of administering an examination before an employee is hired for a position. Employment testing can help employers weed out candidates who may not be qualified for a given position. Under the United States anti-discrimination and civil rights laws, however, employment testing must not be discriminatory.
There are several types of testing that may be administered pre-employment. One type of testing is psychological testing. Another type involves assessing a prospective employee's actual skills and abilities necessary for the job.
Psychological testing may involve the applicant answering a series of multiple choice questions to determine if he has the appropriate personality for the job or if there are disqualifying factors, such as a tendency to defy authority or a susceptibility to succumb to negative peer pressures. There are several different types of psychological tests that have been created specifically for use as employment screening tools. Many large employers use these, and most of the time the testing is automated and done with the aid of computers.
Testing of actual skills and abilities is generally done by companies where a person must have a specific set of skills. This is not done very often on the executive level in jobs where certification is required by states. For example, a lawyer or doctor is not generally going to have to submit to employment testing from his firm or the hospital that is considering hiring him. His professional license is usually considered sufficient qualification.
This skills testing is, instead, done for other types of skills where there are no government mandated licensing. For example, a person applying for a job as a secretary may have to pass a typing test and a test showing his or her proficiency using various office programs. This test can become necessary because there is no other conclusive way for a company to tell if the person legitimately can do what he is claiming on his resume to be able to do.
No matter what type of employment testing is administered, however, in the United States, it must not produce results that differ on the basis of age, race, gender, national original, religion, or any other protected status under US civil rights legislation. For example, if a psychological test given by an employer disproportionately results in Asian people failing it and thus being disqualified from employment, the test may be in violation of the law in the United States. The only exception that allows for a discriminatory test is if there is a legitimate or bona fide occupational reason for that particular test to be administered.