Pre-Employment Testing

Written by Eric Petersen, CIC

Employees represent the largest exposure to every tree care company. From creating liability by damaging property or injuring others, to injuring themselves, to filing lawsuits against the company or other employees, having the right employees should be of utmost concern for every business owner. And of course having the right employees can only happen if you hire the right employees. 

Unfortunately, many tree care companies hire based on an immediate need and do not take enough time to thoroughly vet the prospective employee. When this happens, all too often, the employee that is hired is not a great fit for the job or the company and ends up creating more headaches or potential liability than they should have. For more on Hiring Best Practices, check out our article here.

One way tree services can minimize the chances of making a bad hire is to use pre-employment testing during the interview process. There are many different types of pre-employment tests that can be utilized, from personality tests, to cognitive ability tests, physical ability tests, aptitude tests, however, we are going to focus on a few that you could start doing tomorrow within your tree care company. 

But before we get into a few common tests, I want to make sure to point out that no matter what you are testing for, you need to make sure the tests are related to the job the prospective employee is applying for. You also need to be clear that your offer of employment to this individual is conditional upon the successful passing of the pre-employment test(s). 


So what are some common types of pre-employment tests for the tree care industry? 

  • Driving Test – We all think we are great drivers, but reality shows us that most of us are not. Establish a driving test to assess the skill level of the prospective employee before you allow them to drive for your company. We have an entire article devoted to this topic to help you set this up within your company. 
  • Knot Tying Test – Arborists love to brag about their experience and many times someone’s resume doesn’t match their actual skill or knowledge level. Create a simple knot tying test using the 5 most common knots that your production team uses to ensure the prospective employee can showcase their knowledge with the knots. This doesn’t have to be a disqualifier if the prospective employee fails, but it is definitely a way to peer into the skills and knowledge that they have, verifying what they told you about their experience on their resume or employment application. 
  • Tree ID Test – Like the knot tying test, a simple tree ID test is a good way to understand the knowledge level of the prospective employee. Because tree species vary drastically depending on the region you work in, you may have to temper your expectations with this, but it definitely can help you assess the potential employee’s tree knowledge. 
  • Personality Profile – There are many different personality profiles that you can choose from and they all basically work the same way. Once you have decided on a specific test, have everyone on your current team take the test to set a baseline of what is desired within your company for the various positions you have. Then each prospective employee takes the test and can be compared against the company’s benchmark to determine how well they will fit within that position at your company. 
  • Physical or Ergonomic Assessment – This one is imperative to preventing from hiring a work comp claim! Work with your local Occupational Health Clinic and have them develop an assessment based on the physical skills that an individual needs for each position within your company. This gives you a chance to ensure that the prospective employee can physically do the job they will be hired for and will highlight any unresolved physical injuries that the individual may have. 

I encourage you to begin to implement one or more of these during your next hiring phase. I guarantee that over time you will hire more employees that fit long term with your company than those who fizzle out after a short period of time. 

If you would like help or guidance in creating these pre-employment test for your company, reach out to an ArboRisk team member today to enroll in our Hiring & Recruiting Thrive Package.