If you ask any HR Professional they’ll agree, recruitment and selection can be a time consuming process. Even if you are lucky enough to experience a flood of qualified candidates, you ultimately need to choose a single individual to best fill a role; a challenging task when you consider that studies suggest approximately 40% of leaders will fail within the first 18 months, at a substantial cost to productivity, moral, reputation – and the cost to do it all over again.
A recent article published by McQuaig Institute, compares the correlation between a number of common selection methods and hiring success. If we take a moment to consider the research, it is obvious that different selection methods successfully predict job performance to different degrees. The article, Candidate Selection Methods That Work, offers a quick statistics refresher that puts the research into perspective; a correlation of 0.0 would be the same as flipping a coin to randomly select a candidate and a correlation of 1.0 would be the same as having a crystal ball that allowed you to perfectly predict the right candidate. The article than goes on to discuss how, the most popular recruitment technique used by over 90% of employers, the unstructured interview, has a predictive power of 0.19, not much better than a coin flip in predicting hiring success. Similarly, reference checking comes in at 0.23. In contrast, structured behavioural interview techniques, like those used by professional recruitment firms, have a much stronger relationship with hiring success at 0.6. But how can you be sure you have the right interview questions?
Beyond experience and in-depth subject matter expertise, organizations are increasingly leveraging assessment tools to improve hiring success and the rigor of the interview and reference checking questions. The results show a personality assessment alone has a predictive correlation of 0.38 and historical studies have suggested that when combined with reference checking and structured interviews, the combination may yield a predictive ability of more than 0.8. With that in mind, we believe it’s time to take a closer look at how you assess your candidates and ensure your hiring decisions hit the mark. Here are a few of the reasons organizations include assessment as a part of their talent acquisition strategy:
Total Picture. Individual performance is influenced by values, outlook and traits, all of which are difficult to identify through traditional selection tools. Assessments evaluate a candidate’s approach above and beyond the examples found on a resume. By applying the right tools, assessments can provide objective third-party data to gain insights relevant to the specific role, as well as areas to explore further. Insight into an individual’s strengths and challenges can help guide questions to better understand how compatible their style will be with their team and what skills they have developed to overcome potential challenges.
Reduce Subjectivity. Often employers rely on “gut feel” to help make the final hiring decision. Do they feel this person would be a good fit? Do they feel this person has the necessary character traits to be successful as a leader? Feelings are subjective, dynamic, and often differ among Hiring Managers. One person may believe a prospective candidate has a thoughtful and calculated communication style, and another could perceive that same style to be cold and withdrawn. Assessment tools are designed to remove bias and uncover behavioral patterns that have been tested and validated. They can provide indispensable data to challenge feelings that may be rooted more in fiction than fact.
Onboarding and Career Development. Evidence suggests that the first 90 days in a new role are key to success. Which is why many organizations leverage assessment insights to improve their onboarding strategy and accelerate development. A reliable and valid assessment, aligned with the strategic priorities of the role and organization, can provide in-depth information about the individual’s readiness for a role, as well as development suggestions. Then, organizations are better able to support the successful candidate as they transition into the position, creating better alignment between the candidate, the employer, and the organization.
Role Evaluation. Personality traits, attitude, and ability to learn are often more important for success than the technical skills required to do the role. Assessment tools can also help inform the job description and identify the ideal candidate profile. For example, one assessment tool commonly pulled from our “toolbox” utilizes a job survey to describe the traits that are required to be successful in the role. This can be completed by the hiring manager, the outgoing employee, or even another teammate who is considered to be an “up-and-comer”, helping to refine what the ideal candidate looks like along all dimensions.
Full disclosure; the crystal ball does not exist. And while dozens of assessment tools are available in the market, they are not all created equally. Before investing in an assessment it is important to ensure that you are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the tool, and the appropriateness for your specific use. It’s critical that your tool be scientifically proven as a reliable predictor of job performance. Beyond this, assessments should be applied and interpreted with the support of a trained professional who can translate the insights into actionable decisions grounded in research and informed by experience.
Assessment can increase the accuracy of hiring decisions and ensure the right people are in the right roles. The benefits of the objective information produced through assessments go beyond selection. Assessment solutions can help your organization make better talent decisions, drive faster development and produce stronger results.
Article written by Ashley Leopold and Allyson England.
This article previously appeared in The Chronicle Herald, August 21, 2015.