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Assure Good Hires with Assessment Tools

Assure Good Hires with Assessment Tools

Louise Kursmark,

March 01, 2008

Good hiring correlates directly with organizational success. After all, people are the ones who devise and implement strategy, generate revenue, produce product, serve customers and manage the operation. Hiring the wrong person, one with the wrong skill set, personality, attitude or ethics, can have far-reaching implications. As an HR professional, recruiter or hiring manager, what can you do to improve your chances of hiring the right person?

Consider assessments; they come in as many flavors as ice cream and can be used to evaluate a wide array of traits, skills and performance factors. While these tools won’t give you instant answers, when administered and interpreted appropriately, they can provide critical information to support your findings, validate your choices and help you decide between comparable candidates.

Understand the Assessment Tool Landscape

Assessments expert Susan Guarneri works with HR professionals, career coaches, counselors and employment specialists to help them comprehend the many factors that go into selecting, administering and interpreting assessments. “The most important thing to understand is that assessments are not a magic bullet,” she says. “Before approaching a vendor, the employer must be informed.”

Guarneri’s firm, Career Assessment Goddess, works with employers using a multistep process that begins with a thorough needs assessment to pinpoint the precise objective of using an assessment. “Are they trying to improve employee performance?” she asks. “Speed the hiring process? Reduce problem employees?”

Beyond the assessment’s primary purpose, employers must also evaluate validity and reliability related to their specific circumstances. And to minimize legal risk, “assessments must be job-related, predictive of job performance and consistently administered,” says Guarneri.

The number of assessments available is staggering. As part of her “Master the Maze of Career Assessments” 15-module teleseminar, Guarneri provides a spreadsheet detailing more than 80 available assessments and guides students through the process of researching, evaluating and selecting the right tool. “Unfortunately, they are not tidily packaged for you to choose from,” she cautions. “You must do your homework.”

But the benefits of appropriately selected, administered and interpreted assessments can include cost reductions, streamlined hiring processes, talent identification for immediate and future needs, and the consistent ability to hire the right person to meet the organization’s needs and culture.

Talent Identification

At hotel management company Winegardner & Hammons, before meeting with company executives, all managerial and executive candidates undergo a customized leadership assessment administered by The Gallup Organization. Dave Gordon, Winegardner & Hammons’s VP of human resources, considers the assessment well-worth the hundreds of dollars it costs per candidate: “When we bring people in, we know they have what we are looking for,” he says.

Winegardner & Hammons worked with Gallup to customize the assessment to evaluate the precise leadership traits their successful managers most often possess. Thus, its findings are a strong predictor of future success in meeting expectations and fitting into the company culture.

Tests Need Not Be Expensive

While some assessments are extensive and relatively costly to administer, others are quick, simple and cheap. Helene Cotter of HirePower Associates often recommends a 20-minute integrity test for frontline people. In her experience consulting to healthcare organizations, Cotter finds the assessment, which can cost less than $20 per candidate, “helps them identify red flags” by assessing risk factors in the areas of integrity, substance abuse, reliability and work ethic. Known as the StepOneSurveyII, this assessment is one of many available through Profiles International.

Candidate’s Viewpoint

What do candidates think of assessment tools? When interviewing for the role of senior training manager for a $30 billion industrial manufacturer in Chicago, one candidate found the experience somewhat challenging but believes it will be worthwhile.

“The opportunity to learn something about yourself is always of value,” the candidate said. “I took the Gallup Leadership Assessment, and I’m looking forward to getting the results. I think it might give me some added insight that I can use both during my job search and then on the job.”

No Magic Bullet

Assessments are complex tools that can add substantial value to a company’s hiring process. Although they are neither a quick fix nor a one-size-fits-all solution, when expertly selected, administered and interpreted, they can provide valuable insights and more than return the investment in research, implementation and administration.

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