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Pre-Hire Assessments: How Long is Too Long?

Pre-hire assessments come with an apparent trade-off:

  • If a pre-hire assessment is too short, you might not get enough information to make the best hiring decisions.
  • If a pre-hire assessment is too long, you might end up losing applicants because of it.

But is that really how it works?

How long is too long for a pre-hire assessment?

New research provides us with a surprising answer.

A recent large-scale analysis—including more than 200,000 job-seekers—compared applicant reactions to a wide variety of assessments (there were 69 different selection systems included in their analysis).

The main result: no such thing as too long

As the researchers put it, “selection system length did not predict rates of applicant attrition.”

In other words, applicants were just as likely to complete the longer assessments as they were to complete the shorter ones.

Why doesn’t pre-hire assessment length matter?

When applicants abandon an assessment, they tend to quit toward the beginning.

  • The majority of applicants that don’t finish will give up within the first 20 minutes.
  • The applicants that stick around at least 20 minutes usually finish, regardless of how long it takes.

And one more useful result: honesty pays off.

Some of the longest pre-hire assessments actually had the highest completion rates.  

What did they do differently? They provided more realistic time estimates up front.

If you have a long pre-hire assessment, and it takes a long time to complete, just be honest about it. Your completion rates will probably increase more than you think.