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Law360 Quotes Carrie Urrutia On The Value And Pitfalls Of Pre-Hire Skills Tests


building blocks with skill written on them, hand with penPre-hire skills tests are used by employers for locating employees.  A Society for Human Resource Management survey released in August 2022 showed that 79% of employers that used pre-hire skills tests viewed them as being “just as or more important than traditional hiring criteria.”  Over 50% of those surveyed currently use pre-hire skills tests and respondents indicated their usage is likely to grow.

Carrie L. Urrutia, a member of Eastman & Smith’s Labor & Employment Practice Group, discussed the value of pre-hire skills tests while cautioning employers about pitfalls to avoid in the Law360 article, “What Employers Need To Know About Pre-Hire Skills Tests.” (A Law360 subscription is required to access.) "It's really important to make sure that if an employer is using a test, it is really tailored to the specific job tasks," she said. "And if it's not, the employer should ask itself, 'Is there a better way, a more focused way that we can conduct the same inquiry but not disparately impact individuals because of certain protected characteristics?’“

Ms. Urrutia also shared the importance of ensuring that physical tests are relevant to the specific requirements of the job and that accommodations are made for individuals with disabilities.

“Ultimately, the inquiry that the employer has to make is to ask themselves, 'Is the selection process that I’m using job-related and consistent with business necessity?'" stated Ms. Urrutia. "Those are the buzzwords that the EEOC evaluates when looking at a discrimination claim based upon someone who wasn't offered a position based upon a test.”

Ms. Urrutia offered a word of caution about working interviews as they may get employers in trouble if a potential employee provides something of value to the company without pay. She said that employers should keep this kind of test to a “short demonstration” rather than conducting a “working interview.”

A member of Eastman & Smith, Ms. Urrutia regularly defends employers in state and federal courts as well as administrative agencies throughout Ohio. Her practice includes counseling on employment policies and handbooks, training, representing employers in administrative proceedings, defending against discrimination claims and providing guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), drug testing, privacy, harassment, workers' compensation and a host of other employment law issues.  For questions concerning pre-hire skills tests and skills assessments, please contact Ms. Urrutia.