HR Guide to the Internet:
Personnel Selection: Methods: Physical Abilities Tests

Physical Abilities Tests: Tests typically test applicants on some physical requirement such as lifting strength, rope climbing, or obstacle course completion.

  • can idendentify individuals who are physically unable to perform the essential functions of a job without risking injury to themselves or others
  • can result in decreased costs related to disability/medical claims, insurance, and workers compensation
  • decreased absenteeism
  • costly to administer
  • requirements must be shown to be job related through a thorough job analysis
  • may have age based disparate impact against older applicants


Fitness for the job Rejection of an applicant for failing a physical abilities test must be based on a determination of the individual's fitness for the job not on a general determination on the disabilities of the applicant.

Liability Although a physician may administer the physical abilities test, it is the employer who decides to hire or not, therefore the liability for violations of Title VII or ADA will rest with the employer.

Job Analysis Identify stresses that occur on the job.  

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