Chapter 6 – What to look for? (Key Selection Factors/Features)

In the previous chapters we covered the basics of pre-employment assessments and their value to sales organizations. In the following installment, we delve into the features which comprise a great test, especially for sales candidates.

Correlation studies

The most important question every test must answer is “Do these test scores correlate with real-world performance?” Otherwise, there is little point to assess. Worse, without proven and scientific correlation studies, tests can expose employers to potential liabilities from discrimination lawsuits and fines from government regulators.

Look for “color-blind” assessments which pass the “adverse impact” criteria (no more than 20 percent discrepancy between majority and minority group). Adverse impact refers to employment practices that appear neutral but have a discriminatory effect, even if unintentional, on a protected group. It can occur in recruitment, promotion, training, firing, etc.

Tests such as the APQ not only meet the EEOC employment practice guidelines, they also have been proven time and time again to predict higher performance on the job. Correlation studies prove that high scores on the APQ mean salespeople make or exceed quotas and earn higher commissions than low scorers.

Used for both hiring and development/coaching

The next feature to look for is the ability to use the test reports for not only candidate selection, but also for improving their skills.

This requires in depth reports for each personality trait and the compatibility scores for several jobs. You should also see personalized tips for each test taker. Tips can cover anything from how to best stretch the personality traits which are out of range for a particular job role, including suggestions for selling to different buyer types.

Of course, reports should also be very user friendly. Some assessments spit out endless sheets of complex analysis which require special training to decipher. These are of limited use to sales managers and HR personnel who simply want to have a candidate coached as quickly and easily as possible. The APQ, while in-depth, is easily understood as reports are written in plain English and charts are color-coded for instant interpretation.


Test takers have a tendency to choose answers to make them look good. Understandably, they are trying to get hired and want to make the best impression possible. However, this throws off the accuracy of test results and the best assessments incorporate measures to prevent this “gaming.”

For example, the APQ has an algorithm, updated periodically, which detects when candidates attempt to game a test by identifying inconsistencies in answers. This preserves the integrity of the test for all.

Just how prevalent is cheating? According to one source, e-cheating in some form can reach as high as 40% of college students and this habit can extend to the working years, with a range of 7 to 50 % of older test takers cheating on online administered tests. Anti-gaming measures are a must.

Helps develop higher levels of EQ

The best pre-employment assessments increase emotional intelligence. First, they increase self-awareness of personality strengths and weaknesses, and how these traits might be affecting their relationships with others. This includes buyers, employers, co-workers, as well as friends and family. By gaining this awareness, one can embark on a journey to self-improvement, refining weak spots.

Second, tools such as the APQ’s Sales Builder Report provide insights to help each individual salesperson recognize and adapt to a customer’s unique buying style and recommendations to communicate in ways which build better rapport. These are customized to the specific character of each test taker and buyer type.

At the highest levels of emotional intelligence, salespeople will be able to effortlessly match/mirror their buyers. The best pre-employment assessments provide the knowledge needed to get there.

Affordability and ease of use

Finally, cost is a consideration, as is the ease with which testing can be administered.

Regarding the former, as we recommend every viable candidate on the “short list” be tested (as well as current employees), look for a testing provider that offers volume discounts.

While delivering assessments in formal testing centers is an option, it is far easier to allow test takers to simply sign up online and take pre-employment tests from any internet connected computer. This could be at your office or from the test taker’s home. Results are generally available instantly for the sales manager or HR manager to evaluate the applicant.

The APQ meets all the criteria above and is the pre-employment assessment we recommend and have used for tens of thousands of salespeople. It can be taken anywhere, takes 25 minutes, and produces very easy to understand reports with many of actionable tips.

In the next chapter, we will cover some best practices on how to implement pre-employment assessments into your existing recruitment line.


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