Dear Matt: Why do employers administer pre-employment tests and what role does it play in the final hiring decision? Is there any way to prepare for such tests and what do they look for in my answers?

Matt: Pre-employment testing is another step in the hiring process and another way for employers to evaluate candidates. Employers use pre-employment testing to assess a candidate's potential to do the job and fit in with the team and organization, said Karen Kodzik, founder of Twin Cities-based Cultivating Careers ( and a career management consultant who has worked with individuals in transition for almost 15 years.

Pre-employment testing can include tests that assess intelligence and aptitude, personality and skills.

As for the role it plays in getting hired - it's really hard to say said Kodzik. Each organization weighs pre-employment tests differently. They will likely look at a variety of factors that include work history, skills and experience related to the job, ability to fit in with the corporate culture, how you compare to other candidates, combined with your test results.

Some employers let you know you will need to take a test, others bring you in and have you take the test without warning. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all advice for how to prepare for the test. But the same rules that apply to interviewing apply to testing.

"The best way to prepare is to go into the tests well rested," said Kodzik. "Try to avoid undergoing the tests the same day as the interview because it can be too exhausting. Also, do not try to outsmart the test or guess what you think the employer wants to hear because too often that can backfire."

When completed, ask if you will be debriefed or receive a copy of the results so you know how you did or if there were any trouble spots that came up.

Consider it a good sign if you are at the point where you are taking a pre-employment test. It likely means you have interviewed or are interviewing, and the employer is interested in you.

"Pre-employment testing can be very expensive so if the company asks a candidate to go through it, know that they are interested in you and you are one step closer to a job offer," said Kodzik.

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