Using the right assessment tools to make sound hiring decisions

MIAMI LAKES – Everyone knows a carpenter uses a hammer to pound in a nail–it’s clearly the right tool. Unfortunately, selecting the right assessment tools for your hiring needs isn’t always as obvious. This article will help. It provides an overview of which types of assessment tools to use at each stage of the hiring process, as well as some advantages and disadvantages for each.

Part Two: Choosing the Right Tools for the Job

Before choosing any combination of assessment tools, you must first consider factors unique to your company and specific hiring situation, such as:

1. Hiring timeline–Do you need someone tomorrow or next month? The more time you have, the more in-depth your use of assessment tools can be.

2. Hiring budget–How much money is allocated for your hiring project? Remember that sophisticated assessment tools are generally more expensive to administer.

3. Level of employee needed–Are you hiring a VP of Sales and Marketing or a widget maker? Finding the right person to head-up sales will undoubtedly necessitate more detailed testing than finding a reliable line worker.

Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and choose the right “tools” from your hiring toolbox. While these assessments are reviewed in stages, you may re-arrange the order in which you use them to fit your hiring needs (specifically stages 2 and 3).

Stage 1: Screening out candidates Use these tools to make your first cut.

* Qualification screens–Use to ensure candidates meet minimum job requirements.

* Biodata inventories–Gather biographical information and obtain clues to job performance and turnover (past behavior is a good indicator of future behavior).

Advantages: Inexpensive to administer; can be done online; great for screening out large numbers of candidates.

Disadvantages: On their own they don’t provide enough information about a candidate to accurately predict job success; candidates may be dishonest to appear more qualified.

Stage 2: Learning more about candidates Once you’ve screened-out unqualified applicants, screen-in those who make the first cut.

* Structured Interview–Use to systematically evaluate candidates based upon responses to questions relating to job competencies. Administer in conjunction with other assessments to yield the best results.

Advantages: Can be done by phone, online, or in person; tend to be valid; no other assessment gives you a qualitative “feel” for a candidate like an in-person interview.

Disadvantages: The skill of the interviewer (ability to clarify and probe) affects the quality of the results.

Stage 3: In-depth skill evaluations For some entry-level positions, the information gathered in stages one and two will be enough to make a sound hiring decision. For skilled or professional positions, the following tools can provide a more accurate analysis of critical job specific skills.

* General abilities tests–Use to measure general mental abilities (e.g., reasoning, verbal, quantitative, and spatial) for entry-level jobs using reading, computing, and communicating.

* Specific abilities tests–For positions where a general assessment is not enough, use specific mental or physical tests to measure job-related skills (e.g., reaction time, written comprehension, mechanical ability, physical endurance).

* Job simulations/work sample tests–Obtain a realistic preview of key job competencies and performance. Use with care: can be expensive and difficult to create, but provide invaluable insight into how a candidate will handle real work situations. If a true job simulation is too costly or time-consuming for your needs, consider using abilities tests.

* Knowledge and skills inventories–Use for higher level positions to acquire a valid assessment of what a candidate knows about sophisticated tasks and responsibilities.

Advantages: Highly effective for assessing candidate competencies across a wide range of jobs; useful and valid for predicting job success; viewed as “fair” assessments by candidates.

Disadvantages: Work sample tests and job simulations can be labor intensive to create and expensive to administer; non-automated tests require extensive training to be used effectively.

Stage 4: Determining the right fit A candidate is more than job skills and experience. Each day, the whole person shows up for work. Once you know a candidate can do the job, these assessments will help you determine if he has the right values, motivations, and personality to succeed in your organization.

* Integrity testing–Use to help predict whether an applicant will engage in theft in positions where shrinkage is a consideration. Note: many personality tests also include disguised integrity questions, making a separate integrity test unnecessary.

* Culture-fit–Use this assessment to predict tenure and organizational commitment, and screen-in candidates who will fit well into your corporate culture.

Personality testing–Use to measure a candidate’s natural personal tendencies–motivations, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses–and see if they’re in line with the needs of the position.

Advantages: Accurately predict job success; integrity and personality tests are easy and inexpensive to administer.

Disadvantages: Candidates sometimes lie or provide socially desirable answers.

Stage 5: Entrance examinations The needs of the position may necessitate extending an offer contingent upon satisfactory background checks, drug screens, and medical exams. These tools are useful in avoiding catastrophic hires. However, the screens should be administered with great care to ensure compliance with state and federal regulations, specifically those regarding privacy and the ADA.

Use the tools to your advantage.

Used properly, the assessment tools in your hiring toolbox can provide a clear picture of a candidate’s ability to perform a job, avoid catastrophic losses due to poor hiring decisions, and help your company make hiring decisions that improve productivity and profits.

Your Hiring Toolbox brought to you by: Employment Resources Inc.

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