How to Ensure Your Pre-placement Tests are Fair
Good practices to adopt if pre-placement tests are used.
It is common for companies to incorporate pre-placement tests (e.g. cognitive ability tests, job-related medical examinations, etc.) in their recruitment and selection process to find candidates with the right fit for the job.
Companies may conduct pre-placement tests to ensure a good fit but be mindful that the tests are calibrated fairly and do not discriminate against some groups of candidates.
In this article, we will share some good practices to adopt if tests are administered as illustrated in the scenario below:
"A company required all candidates applying for the role of Technician to undergo a pre-placement audiometry test. This is one of the job requirements as Technicians will be exposed to excessive noise in the workplace. Existing Technicians undergo the same test annually for early detection of hearing loss so that immediate action can be taken to prevent further deterioration.
They reject candidates who fail the audiometry test. Is this discriminatory?"
All Singapore-based companies are expected to recruit and select employees based on merit, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, marital status and family responsibilities, or disability in adherence to the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair and Progressive Employment Practices.
If tests are to be used for selection purposes, companies have to ensure that they are:
- Related to the job requirements.
- Reviewed regularly to ensure that they remain relevant and free from bias in content or scoring.
In the above scenario, an audiometry test is required for the role of Technicians as it involves exposure to excessive noise. Under the Workplace Safety and Health (Medical Examinations) Regulations, companies are responsible for ensuring that persons employed in any hazardous occupation (e.g. involving exposure to excessive noise) are to undergo pre-placement medical examinations by a designated workplace doctor and be certified fit to work in such occupations. These medical examinations include an audiometric examination and should be done before or within three months of commencement of work. Therefore, it is not discriminatory if candidates fail the test and are certified to be unfit as a result and are not offered the job in this scenario. However, if an offer has been made before the pre-placement test, companies should consider finding an alternative position that is suitable for the candidate.
In addition, as a good practice in communications regarding pre-placement tests, companies should:
- Inform candidates beforehand if pre-placement tests will be administered and explain the rationale for conducting the test(s). For instance, to safeguard the health and safety of potential candidates who will be working with health hazards so as to prevent the development of occupational diseases. Notifying candidates in advance also enable them to make informed decisions about the job.
- Communicate the outcome of the job application within a reasonable timeframe and explain the reason(s) for not selecting a candidate in a clear and sensitive manner.
- Avoid using jargon and acronyms as candidates may not be familiar with the tests required/terminology used.
As progressive employers, companies should also consider if reasonable accommodation or adjustments could be made to the testing process for potential candidates (e.g. persons with disabilities who are able to do the job) to enable them to take the test. This ensures a level playing field for all candidates and allows companies to hire the best talent with the required skill sets.
For more resources on fair recruitment and selection, visit tafep.sg.