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Pre-Employment Tests, Interview Skills & Hiring

By Michael Mercer, Ph.D.
Mar 30, 2009, 13:38

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Managers often talk trash about hiring young people – Millennials (18-28YO) and Generation X (29-42YO).  However, pre-employment test research and other methods reveal the true message every manager needs to know. 


Fact:  Managers need to realize it does not make any difference how old or young a person is.  The one and only factor that counts is if the person you hire will be a productive, dependable, and honest employee.  Some Millennials and Gen Xers are very

>  productive, responsible, and valued employees

>  lazy, irresponsible, and lousy employees


Oops.  I almost forgot to tell you another handy management fact.  Some people older than Millennials and Gen X are extremely

>  productive, responsible, and valued employees

>  lazy, irresponsible, and lousy employees


Wow.  Isn’t that amazing? 


Colorful trash talk by managers and in news media makes exciting “news” and human interest stories.  But the fact remains:  Managers need to hire productive, dependable, honest employees, regardless of job applicants’ age.


With that said, let’s look at some helpful research plus tips to help you hire the best, regardless of the age of the job applicants.




Companies using pre-employment tests from my firm start by us quickly custom-tailoring the tests.   We conduct research called a “Benchmarking Study” or concurrent validity study.  In this research for custom-tailoring, we have employees in the company take our pre-employment tests on interpersonal skills, personality, motivations, and mental abilities.  Then, we discover typical or “benchmark” test scores of the very best employees in each job. 


The resulting pre-employment tests are taken by job applicants.  Then, the company can take the logical next steps:

*  prefer applicants whose test scores are similar to the very best employees

*  shy away from applicants whose test scores differ from the best employees


In pre-employment test benchmark customizing, I continually discover the very best employees get similar test scores – regardless of their age.  For instance, ultra--productive and dependable Gen Xers and Millennials get test scores essentially the same as older employees who also are ultra-productive and dependable. 


Also, when starting pre-employment test “Benchmarking Studies,” I have the company give me lists of employees they are testing.  Sometimes, I hear details about the employees listed.  Lo-&-behold, the very best employees span all age ranges.  That clearly shows age is not the key issue impacting productivity and dependability. 


Instead, it boils down to this fact, which I also emphasized in my third book, “Hire the Best – & Avoid the Rest(tm)”: 

The fastest, easiest and lowest cost way to have employees who are productive,    dependable and

honest is to hire people who are productive, dependable and honest human beings. 




Let me tell you true stories of two people who are in their twenties.  You could call them Millennials.  I met them through their parents who live near me. 


One of these Millennials loves to

-  sleep late

-  barely job-hunt

-  play on computer, e-mail and Twitter all day and night (after he awakens)

-  watch TV and DVDs while playing on computer, e-mailing, and Twittering


The second of these Millennials loves to

+  keep busy

+  show up at job one hour early each day

+  work overtime, whenever available

+  help family members who need assistance

+  work hard

+  earn top performance ratings, because it feels personally important


Questions:  As a manager, which of these two people – both Millennials – would you

-  hire?

-  feel comfortable perhaps putting on your payroll?

-  predict might be productive on-the-job?

-  think will show up at work (a) every day and (b) on-time?

-  leave unsupervised – yet feel confident work is getting done?

-  imagine will deserve your respect and trust?

-  suspect cares a lot about earning high performance appraisal ratings?


Another question for managers:  Haven’t you also met two people in every age group who exhibit similar good or bad qualities?  Of course, you met such people of all ages.




Pre-employment test research and work-style observations show some Millennials and Gen Xers are super-productive, dependable, and honest employees.  And some are the opposite.


In fact, every age group – young, old, and everywhere in between – has people who are productive employees.  Also, others are people you never should hire, because they are slackers who do minimal amounts and quality of work. 


So, age of job applicant does not matter.  What matters is a hiring manager’s skill at predicting which applicant is likely to be productive and top-notch, if hired. 


Remember, as I highlight in my “Hire the Best – & Avoid the Rest(tm)” book: 

The easiest, fastest and cheapest way to have productive, dependable and honest employees is to hire productive, dependable, and honest people. 


And pre-employment tests, which are readily custom-tailored for each company, plus work-style insights are two great methods to predict if a job applicant will be productive, dependable, and honest.


So, quit wasting your time fretting about a job applicant’s age.  Instead, invest your time into using prediction methods that forecast which job applicants – without regard to age – will be fantastic employees for your company.


Pre-employment tests plus investigating work history gives you big clues.  Look for these two key clues to hire the best:

1.  Applicant’s pre-employment test scores are same as scores of your best employees.

2.  Applicant’s work history reveals proven productive, conscientious work habits.





Dr. Michael Mercer, Ph.D., is nationally-known as an expert on (1) pre-employment testing and (2) hiring the best.  He created the 3 “Forecaster™ Tests” – pre-employment tests that companies use to hire people who will be successful on-the-job.  Dr. Mercer’s 5 books include “Hire the Best – & Avoid the Rest™” (in 13th printing).  He is business psychologist and president of Mercer Systems, Inc. in Barrington, IL.  When you subscribe at no-cost to Dr. Mercer’s monthly “Management Newsletter,” at, you instantly receive via e-mail his 14-page “How to Hire Winners” recommendations.   

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