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Selection vs. Development Assessments

Selection vs. Development Assessments

Dan McCarthy | Great Leadership

September 02, 2010

It’s been my experience that “we could get sued” doesn’t always stop a lot of maverick managers from taking risks. Well, good for you. So let me give you a more compelling reason: if you use an assessment that has not been “benchmarked” to the position you’re hiring for, you could end up making a stupid hiring decision.

That is, you really don’t know what the candidate’s assessment profile is telling you. You may end up favoring somebody because of personal preferences (or bias) – that have nothing to do with performing well in the job.

The concept of benchmarking is really pretty simple. It works better when you have a lot of incumbents already in the position you are hiring for. You just need to administer the assessment to the top 10 performers and the bottom 10 performers (without telling them that they are the 10 worst of course). Then, look for differences between the best and worst performers, and establish an ideal profile for the position. That way, you’ll identify the stuff that really matters for success in that specific job.

Make sure you have benchmark for each job, even if you’re using the same assessment. A success profile for an engineer looks very different than one for a sales role.

If a candidate falls above or below the ideal profile, it does not mean they couldn’t do the job – it just means it could be harder for them. If anything, it gives you an idea of what you need to poke at during the interview process.

Now, you could use the results of a selection assessment for development if you end up hiring the candidate. However, usually selection reports don’t include that kind of detailed information –you’ll need to purchase a development report for an additional cost.

BTW, for those of you that that are the extreme other end of the continuum – that is, that organizations should NEVER use personality assessments for selection – you’re wrong. Most organizations use them, and as long as they are benchmarked (validated), it’s perfectly OK. Except for the MBTI – which measures psychological type…, not personality. Like I said, just enough to be dangerous. (-:

Finally, a manager should never use the results of any one assessment – even one that’s properly benchmarked – to make a hiring decision. That’s just plain lazy and ineffective. Assessments should also be combined with good old-fashioned selection interviewing and reference checking.

I hope this helps demystify the difference between development and selection assessments. Yes, assessments are can be good tools for development and selection – just don’t get the two of them mixed up, or you won’t be doing yourself or your company any favors.

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