When And How To Use Assessments In The Hiring Process

You May Ask Yourself…………..How do I partner with my client in choosing the right candidate and selecting the right assessment parameters? 1) Responsibility for selecting the tool & the outcomes. Ultimately it is the Hiring Manager’s responsibility to determine what right looks like in that department and what minimal acceptable performance is – a recruiter can not do this, nor can the internal HR department. It is the Hiring Manager, their boss, and the key stake holders who are accountable for the performance and the bottom line and it is their job to document this in the job specification, then it is the recruiters’ job to go find the right fit. If the benchmark or specs change for one, it must change for all – or you could be liable for discrimination.

2) Benchmarking Existing Performers. Between *9-11peak performers (*as rated by actual measurable results, not by how the manager ‘feels’) in a specific role are assessed and a benchmark is built. In some companies where the department is rather large they also benchmark another group, they take 9-11 below average performers and assess them and then 9-11 middle of the road performers and assess them. Once the assessments are scored and ranked in a grid like manner a validated benchmark is built. When a company needs to hire peak they use the peak benchmark, when they are hiring average (for what ever reason) then they use the average benchmark.

3) Comprehensive Position Requirements Benchmark. This initial process of building a validated hiring benchmark and is often used when a company has had bad experiences hiring, or when a firm is hiring for a newly created position, or when a company is undergoing a corporate transformation, or under new leadership. Typically, an outside facilitator, preferably you, leads this conversation. It is best when this is done with 3 key decision makers or stake holders that are directly impacted by the success or failure of this hire. Once the benchmark is created (key specific measurable accountabilities, core functions, competencies, behaviors, traits, values, etc.) and the selection criteria is ranked & prioritized in advance, each stake holder then takes a job report assessment and creates their vision of ideal candidate via an assessment. The best assessment I have seen for this ranks 23 competencies, core motivational values, work behaviors, and personal trainability/coach-ability. The convergence of these three reports creates the validated measurable benchmark which all candidates are ranked and compared against.

4) Existing Incumbent Benchmark. A look at the successful incumbent – their performance reviews, their behaviors, competencies and strengths on the job as compared to the results they produced –if they have everything you want, use their assessment as a model for an ideal hire. Make sure the areas you are comparing are relevant to the job; i.e. good systems judgment is critical for a process engineer role. Influencing ability might not matter in a controller role. Also a word of warning – IF the incumbent was in this role for a long, long time 6 years or more, they very well may have modified themselves to fit the role, unless you have 6 years to wait for performance…watch out for this.

5) For Sales Roles – the Success Insights is an excellent tool that measures motivations – while motivates alone are NOT enough of an indicator of total success; when an existing benchmark is available with over 9 sales champions you will certainly see the motivational similarities. Keen has assessed well over 100 people in sales/recruiting (hunter) roles and 88% score a combination of 107 or more in being motivated by Utility (ROI) & Independence (Power) combined. The other 12% score higher than 100 in those combined traits. Additionally we have assessed highly successful Farmers in the same field and 90% have a combined score of 107 in Utilitarian and Social – the love for money and the love to help people; of course with money being higher. This is a good indicator yet it is not to be used alone. It is one piece of the pie. This assessment tells you how and why a person is motivated to sell and it won’t tell you if they can do the job or how fast they can pick up new things or if they will actually do the work.

6) Matching & Submittals. Candidates are matched & compared to the validated benchmark before submittal to the hiring manager. If a candidate scores out of the range for acceptable performance for the role for areas previously deemed as deal breakers – their propensity for success might be hindered or limited. It is then the hiring manager’s choice if they want to and can work with this person on their development. Of course, the candidate must be in on this plan. If a candidate is hired for a role that they may struggle in due to their lack of basic foundational competencies and behaviors required for optimal performance they need to know.

Certain traits are not wise to develop in other adult human beings; areas that are not recommended to coach are a person’s fundamental personal behaviors & values; for examples: work ethic, initiative, motivation for money, etc. Most people will tell you – they are who they are and the only person who can change them, is them self. Another area to look out for is mental acuity. If you have a department of peak performers and after assessing them you determine they all possess high mental acuity and as you further evaluate the role, you determine the ramp up time is nil and anyone joining the team needs to come out of the gate solid or they’ll struggle, it is actually inappropriate to hire a person for the role UNLESS you are prepared to make job modifications. On the other hand, if everyone in the department is very bright, yet the job does not require a person be that bright, it would not be appropriate to screen someone out based on that basis.

Be Aware of Red Flags

Assessments that are not validated

Assessments only given to certain candidates (like a protected class)

Assessments that are sporadically given, or given at different stages of the hiring process

Assessments that do not pass the 4/5th rule

Assessments that do not have a distortion scoring system (where candidates can answer with fluff and inconsistency)

Assessments that are not relevant to the role; i.e. DISC for hiring or giving a file clerk the Trimetrix

As the economy gets tighter, as it gets tougher for companies to stay profitable & competitive and as companies brace for the impending shortage of leadership talent, more and more companies are exercising their right to assess and choose wisely. Our job as Managers, Executives, HR Professionals and Recruiters is to partner with each other in making the hiring process a system for identifying the right people for the right term. Patching a leak with a flimsy cover is only a temporary fix – our job is to put the right people in the right job, the 1st time and to build the succession plan one person at a time.