Does the idea of doing Pre-Hire Tests for employers leave you howling at the moon? Stop howling and read our top 5 practical suggestions.

[fa icon="calendar'] Oct 11, 2018 9:08:06 AM / by Erin Norton

Providing pre-hire Physical Ability Testing (PAT) helps both employees and employers, while generating cash-based revenue for your clinic.  But developing and implementing these tests can be a bit daunting unless you have the right tools and training.   

Wondering where to start?  Let’s look at the top five questions clinicians ask when considering PAT for employers.

  1. What sort of training do I need?
  2. Is there software available that makes testing easier?
  3. What kind of equipment do I need?
  4. How much space should I allot?
  5. How much do I charge?

Training   The two key components in developing any pre-hire PAT are:

  • an accurate job description
  • an objective, defensible testing protocol.

To create a test that accurately reflects the requirements of the job, you need to perform an objective job analysis.  Employers may have job descriptions on file, but they’re often outdated, inaccurate, or lack the detail you need to develop a legally defensible pre-hire test.  And remember this: if you attempt a job analysis without a structured process and the proper training, the result is usually very fragmented and subjective – and possibly inaccurate. Job analysis training can change all that.

In addition to formal training in job analysis, developing a robust PAT requires a testing protocol that utilizes a legally defensible scoring system.  And before choosing a vendor, make sure to review the research supporting each methodology you consider.  Ask yourself: does every aspect of the protocol have reliability and validity research standing behind it?  Has each individual test item been validated?  Has the research been published in peer-reviewed journals?  Have the studies been replicated by independent evaluators?  The answer should be a clearly demonstrable “Yes” to each of these questions.

Software Tools Are Essential.  Administering a pre-hire testing program without software designed for just this purpose will have everyone involved – job applicants, employers and clinicians - howling at the moon.  Custom-designed and web-based software – like WebPAT from ErgoScience - helps clinicians conduct the test and create the reports quickly and efficiently.  Employers can request appointments and retrieve test results directly from the software, avoiding time consuming emailing and faxing.  Job applicants can complete their consent and medical history forms prior to the appointment, saving valuable clinic time for actual testing.  Built-in workflow software easily moves the therapist through the evaluation process, eliminating the need for paperwork. As soon as the test is complete, the test results can be automatically sent to the employer.  Employers really like that kind of rapid turn-around. And when you or your client want to run aggregate pass-fail reports, software-based testing makes that easy too.  

Equipment Needs. Equipment will vary according to the testing protocol you use and the jobs for which you are testing. Some protocols require clinics to buy or lease expensive equipment; others don’t. And just because it’s expensive doesn’t mean it’s better: research shows this type of equipment does not increase the accuracy or legal defensibility of the test.  Other approaches rely on “isokinetic” methods, requiring static, or strength-based testing. But let the buyer beware: poor correlation of isometric testing with actual job requirements makes legal defensibility an issue.  More than a few lawsuits have followed.  So, what does work? 

ErgoScience recommends using a “work sample” approach: you create test items that are as close to real-world job requirements as possible and require only generic functional testing equipment.  Since you’re duplicating real-world tasks using readily available equipment you probably already have in your clinic, the test’s accuracy does not depend on the gear, it depends on the scoring process. When it comes to equipment our advice is to keep it simple – don’t purchase any equipment until you design your first test.

Clinic Space Requirements.     Setting up a dedicated a 20’x20’ space just for pre-hire testing is fantastic!  But, most clinics don’t have an extra 400 square feet of vacant floor space.  Instead, they incorporate the testing area into their existing treatment space.  While space required will vary with the job(s) being tested, it’s safe to say that if you’re testing dynamic pushing/pulling task it’s optimal to have a 20’ straightaway. Some smaller clinics do this in a hallway or use a shorter straightaway with additional repetitions, if needed.  If you’re testing stair climbing, access to a stairwell or clinic steps is helpful. Again, wait until you are ready to do your first test to address the space issue.  Chances are, you’re in good shape already.

Payment for Services. The good news is that job analysis and pre-hire testing are injury prevention services and, as such, payment comes directly from the employers!   No billing insurance and hoping to get paid!  Be sure to charge for your job analysis and test development as well as for each test you do.  You can expect to spend 1-4 hours onsite per job, videotaping and/or observing.  The time required for onsite analysis depends on how repetitive the job is.  Jobs with more variability take longer.  And then you’ll spend time off site preparing your report and developing the test.  Your per-test charge will vary based on your market and on the individual test.  Generally, the more lengthy the test, the more you charge.  However, most employers will expect the average PAT to last no more than 30-40 minutes.

Analyze the hourly rate that you collect (not what you bill – as we all know those are two different things) when you are treating patients.  Your goal is to charge an hourly rate that is at least equal to what you would collect from treatment.  Do a little market research.  Are there other clinics in your geographic area who are doing pre-hire testing?  If so, what do they charge?


Howling 2ErgoScience can help.  If you’re interested in a great new source of cash-based - and recurring - revenue, stop howling and start testing.  With more than 20 years experience, 1,800 clinic partners and hundreds of thousands of tests under our belt, we’re here when you need us.

Training, Tools and Support:

  1. University-developed and real-world tested protocols
  2. Software that makes job analysis and testing easy.
  3. Low start-up fees. No expensive equipment rent or buy.
  4. No dedicated clinic space or set-up required.

Want to do testing, but don’t have time or bandwidth for job analysis or PAT development? No problem!  ErgoScience can partner with you to develop win-win testing for employers in your area: our skilled analysts can collect the data and create the tests. You administer the program and reap the rewards. 

For more information or to get started today, contact us.

Read these case studies that show how pre-hire testing saves employers money and creates a positive return on investment.

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Topics: Clinicians

Erin Norton

Written by Erin Norton

Erin help clinics find the best solution to fit their needs from functional capacity evaluations, to job analysis, pre-employment screens or impairment ratings.