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Healthcare needs passionate employees, like, yesterday. But in the middle of a serious talent shortage, it can be hard to be selective about candidates. Sometimes you need new workers immediately, and hiring and onboarding as quickly as possible is the most important thing. It is possible, however, to maintain your hiring speed while also ensuring you’re finding the best people for the job. Candidate testing can elevate your selection process while actually making hiring move faster.

Candidate testing is a method of verifying an applicant’s expertise before sending an offer. It’s popular in industries that require specialized skill sets, like healthcare. Common types of pre-employment testing include everything from practical skills tests to pre-screening assessment surveys, in the form of written questionnaires. 

How Does Candidate Testing Fit Into Your Hiring Process? 

Given the demands placed on healthcare hiring managers, the most efficient way to manage candidate testing is often by making it a part of the application. In other words, focus on pre-screening questions that the applicant can quickly complete along with their other application materials. When done well, this kind of candidate testing gives you more insight without disrupting the screening process. It can help you not only make great hires but also place them in the correct locations.

There’s more to candidate testing than just figuring out which applicants bring the most experience. By digging deeper into a candidate’s aptitude, strengths, and interests, you can identify potential future leaders and get a head start on talent management. With this information, you’ll also have a better idea of areas where you can support new team members, whether that’s by offering specific mentorship opportunities or utilizing their niche skills. 

If you’re hiring for multiple locations, candidate testing also gives you the chance to learn a little bit more about your applicants and offer them positions in facilities where they will be a good fit. Even within a single healthcare organization, business culture can vary greatly from workplace to workplace. Place your employees correctly the first time to reduce turnover and avoid the costs associated with a bad hiring decision

How to Start Candidate Testing 

In an industry like healthcare, managers are often competing to hire for high-volume roles while also fighting routinely high rates of turnover. It goes without saying that it’s wise to pursue any strategies to increase retention, job satisfaction, and employee effectiveness. Here’s how to introduce candidate testing early in your recruitment process so you can waste less time and make better hiring decisions.

Decide What Questions You’re Trying to Answer

Before you get started with candidate testing, make sure you have a clear purpose. What technical skills, experiences, or traits do you need to assess before you can make a great hire? 

According to experts, some forms of pre-screening are much more effective than others. Tests of personality traits are extremely subjective, and job candidates often misrepresent themselves, intentionally or otherwise. More cut-and-dry candidate testing, like simple pre-screening surveys, can give you data that’s much easier to assess.

It’s also worth remembering that some healthcare positions, like CNA roles, are great for new healthcare workers specifically because they have fewer barriers to entry. Think about this while you’re trying to decide how to focus your candidate testing. Do you really need to ask extensive questions about healthcare experience, or would it be more helpful to get a sense of the candidate’s interests, goals, and attitude? Focus on the information you really need to find your best candidates while avoiding redundant or unnecessary testing. This approach is particularly great if you offer in-house training programs, since you don’t want to discourage applicants by implying they need more experience than they actually do.

Develop Your Pre-Screening Questions

If you’re using pre-screening surveys in your candidate testing, you’ll need to decide what kind of questions to ask. To make the most of pre-screening, these surveys should be role-specific, targeted, non-discriminatory, and pertinent. Candidate testing is a helpful tool, but it introduces one more step in the recruitment process. Brief, integrated pre-screening questions will get you the answers you need without scaring applicants off.

Your pre-screening questions can focus on basic requirements like licensing and age, assess background and goals, or pose a hypothetical scenario while asking them to respond.

Scenario Questions

Scenario questions are especially helpful for getting more insight into how a candidate works. You might ask, for instance, how a candidate would respond if a patient was getting upset or making unreasonable demands. By introducing a situation they’re likely to encounter, you’ll get an idea of how they might actually respond to the daily challenges of the role. You’ll be able to get some insight into whether your applicant is competent, confident, and collected without asking explicitly. Soft skills are often easier to see in scenario questions, since applicants’ responses can indicate communication and interpersonal skills. In addition, you can check for signs of self-doubt and prepare to support your new hires in whatever way they need. 

Background and Goals

You might pair a scenario question with one or two more pointed questions about their experience and professional goals. This is your chance to feel out their enthusiasm and how they’ll fit into your business culture. Questions like “What, to you, makes a job fun?” can help you understand if a candidate will do well in your organization.

Pick Your Technology

You could manually add pre-screening questions to your job post and ask that candidates reply manually, but that’s pretty time-consuming, both for you and for the applicants. In general, you’re better off using a digital platform to pre-screen, especially if you’re hiring a large number of positions. With the right software, you’ll be able to automatically sort through candidates and collect pre-screening responses for quick review. 

You shouldn’t need to pick a whole new platform just to access candidate testing tools. A good hiring and applicant tracking system should already allow you to customize job posts to include pre-screening questions. Services like Apploi let you pre-screen and sort candidates while simultaneously completing background checks and collecting important documents, like vaccination records, to get a head start on onboarding. Learn more about how to pick applicant tracking and hiring software with our ATS cheat sheet

Understand the Limits of Candidate Testing

We’re big believers in the power of pre-screening questions, but that’s certainly not the only way to conduct candidate testing. According to SHRM, 22% of companies use personality tests in their recruiting—but this is one of the least effective candidate assessment tools. Candidates tend to respond with the answers they think employers want to hear, skewing the data. Even if the results are miraculously accurate, this kind of testing can be invasive.

Personality assessments, physical aptitude tests, and cognitive ability tests can all pose issues for equal opportunity employers. In one case, a West Virginia woman filed an EEOC complaint after she failed a recruitment assessment, arguing that her poor results were due to her hearing and speech impairments. Stay on track with your healthcare diversity and inclusion policy by keeping your questions limited. Focused pre-screening surveys are often the most effective, quickest, and least invasive methods of a thorough candidate assessment.

Hire the Right People With Apploi

Apploi is on a mission to help healthcare hire and manage talent more successfully. We give employers stronger oversight into their staffing by integrating pre-screening, recruitment tools, digital credential management, and onboarding technology within a single platform. We’re here to help you find great candidates and succeed as a business.

Interested in learning more about how you can recruit, hire, and onboard healthcare staff quickly? Contact us today for a free demo of our end-to-end talent management solution.

Melanie Boroosan

Melanie Boroosan

Over her six years in healthcare administration, Melanie has managed human resources, legal, compliance, payroll, and recruitment efforts at a corporate level. This oversight granted her a deep appreciation for the unique needs of healthcare managers, and for the direct ways that business operations affect the wellbeing of each employee. As Apploi’s Director of Healthcare Innovation, Melanie draws from her experience in healthcare HR and ancillary long-term care to pursue a vision of holistic healthcare staffing. Her work is rooted in the knowledge that great care begins with improving quality of life for all healthcare workers.