Pre-Employment Testing Guidelines

1440528_79415108Employers often try to screen out applicants by using pre-employment tests to evaluate skills, aptitude, personality and honesty as well as medical and drug tests.

Although certain testing is allowed, you should impose numerous restrictions on what is permissible.  Here’s a look at what you can and cannot do.

Testing People with Disabilities

Employers must avoid discriminating against applicants who are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act.  All tests must accurately measure people’s skills, not their disabilities.  Hence, tests that reflect impaired mental, sensory, manual or speaking skills, unless job-related, are to be avoided.  Tests should be disability neutral.

Skills Tests

These tests range from simple typing tests to architectural drafting tests. S kills tests are generally legal, provided you are testing a skill necessary for the performance of a job.

Aptitude, Psychological and Personality Tests

Written tests to gain insight into applicant’s general abilities, personality and/or psyche are rarely appropriate, and their use leaves the employer vulnerable to lawsuits.  Personality tests can be even riskier as they may invade the applicant’s privacy by inquiring into topics that are personal in nature, such as religious beliefs or sexual practices.

Lie Detector and Honesty Tests

The federal Employee Polygraph Protection Act generally prohibits employers from requiring applicants to take a lie detector test or from asking applicants about previous lie detector tests.  The law allows for a narrow list of exceptions for businesses that provide protection services or handle pharmaceuticals.

Medical Tests

Applicants should not be asked their medical history or subjected to a medical exam before you make a job offer.  Once the applicant is offered a job, the passing of a medical exam can be made a precondition to acceptance.

Drug Tests

The laws on drug testing vary widely from state to state.  Some states allow them only for jobs involving public safety or for drivers, some permit them for any occupation and others prohibit them altogether.


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