Free Consultation: Receive expert recommendations. Schedule a Time Here or Call (800) 700-6507.

Employment Tests

One Change that Will Immediately Improve Your Hiring Process

Since accountability is a critically important driver of success, more organizations should consider it at the earliest stage of engaging potential hires.
By Chris McGoff

How often do you hear organizations talk about the importance of accountability? It's listed in their core values, encouraged between employees, and promoted with customers. Since accountability is a critically important driver of success, more organizations should consider accountability at the earliest stage of engaging potential hires.

Think about it -- most org charts are riddled with nouns to describe their employees. The little boxes are filled with labels like Vice President of Sales, Marketing Director, Chief of Operations, Human Resource Manager, and Chief Information Officer. It's a diagram of nouns. These titles describe who people are, but do little to tell us what people actually do and do nothing to make clear people's accountabilities.

Drill down to discover where the action and the accountability can be found. It's in the verbs. Verbs matter because they are powerful, and some verbs are more powerful than others. For example, the title VP of Sales might be followed by the job description, "Lead company sales efforts." "Lead" is a nice sounding verb, but it offers no real accountability. What if the description of the job for VP of Sales was, "Close sufficient deals to make it possible for the VP of Operations to meet or exceed monthly billing targets for staff." The verb "close" is much more powerful than the verb "lead." How the VP of Sales closes these deals is up to him or her, but the verb makes them accountable.

Rethinking Your Verbs

Next time you are writing a job description, consider your verbs. Using powerful verbs in a job description can attract the type of employee who is willing to be accountable. High power verbs = high accountability and weak verbs = weak accountability.

What kinds of verbs are embedded in your organization's job descriptions or in your own resume? Use the following guide to do a "verb audit" and see if your organization can use more powerful verbs to attract accountable employees.

Job seekers -- you should use this tip too. Take a few minutes to do a "verb audit." Using the list provided, how might you improve the verbs in your resume, your online profiles, and your professional bio? Being associated with powerful verbs makes you more significant and accountable, which can establish the case for more compensation. Power up the verbs and power up your wallet.

The Verb Ladder

Screen Shot 2017-05-25 at 11.17.03 AM.png

Whether you are a hiring manager or a job seeker, don't be surprised if you find weak verbs lurking around. That's because we instinctively know, the weaker the verbs the harder it is to judge. High power verbs create the possibility for judgment and failure. We live our lives desperately trying to avoid shame. Hunt for weak verbs and replace them with powerful verbs to power up your employees and your organization. Or better still, call us and we will revamp your job description and/or your job posting to help find you superior performers rather than just average.




Pre-Hire Assessment Science Revealed: Value for Employers, Value for Candidates

Here is a great article written from the folks at Bersin: These days there is a lot of talk about BigData in HR. And it's a good thing: there is a science to people management, and the more data we have about people the easier it becomes to make critical people decisions.  Data helps us understand why some people perform better than others, why some people become strong leaders and others do not, and why some people are highly engaged and others are not.

What is your hit-rate for hiring great candidates? When I talk with peers and leaders in HR around the world, I find that most companies feel lucky if 75% of their candidates work out and 10% become high performers. It's extremely hard to find a "great candidate" and it's not just because there are a shortage of top people, it's often because we often don't truly know what we're looking for.

The Science of Fit

If you have studied I/O Psychology (Industrial and Organizational Psychology) then you know there is a vast research community which studies the traits, personality styles, and characteristics of high performing people at work. And there are hundreds of models (Myers Briggs®, a personality assessment, is often used as one such tool), most of which are based on years of research studying what skills are needed in different jobs.

Many years ago I started talking with assessment firms, and what I learned is that many of the “skills” or “competencies” needed are common from job to job.  Attention to detail, time management, cognitive thinking, problem solving, and learning agility are skills that help us in nearly any job in business.  But you can get far more specific.

I/O Psychologists look at jobs in great detail. They examine tasks at work and try to diagnose the skills, personality traits, experiences, and knowledge someone needs to succeed at this job (often called “KSA’s” or knowledge, skills, and abilities). This can be accomplished in a two main ways:

  • We study the job itself, and ask workers and managers what they perceive to be the characteristics of high performers, or
  • We study high-performers and compare them against the average, creating what we call a “high-performer analysis.”

In our Science of Fit research we looked at a variety of job roles (sales positions, leadership positions) and took advantage of this “high-performer” analysis approach. By selecting the top 10% in performance, you can compare this group’s skills, personality traits, experiences, and knowledge against the average.  And if the data is statistically valid, you can create a "model" for success in that job

In this study (using data and analysis provided by Kenexa , now a division of IBM) we looked at cosmetic sales representatives, customer service reps, pharmaceutical researchers, and movie theater staff. In each of these four cases the research predicted future performance and gave the company a unique perspective on who to hire.

In addition to this approach, by the way, some tools also look at the traits of low performers, which one would consider the "derailer traits." It turns out that many high-performers also possess traits of low performers, so when you also identify these "low-performer" characteristics you get an even more accurate prediction of success. (Thanks to Lee Klepinger of Impact Achievement Group for this insight.)

Creating a Pre-Hire Assessment

Once this work is done (and you can buy off-the-shelf tools for this also), you now have the core of a "pre-hire assessment," or test and interview script which can help you identify the top people for a position.

Believe it or not, fewer than 40% of organizations use pre-hire assessment for new hires, and even fewer for internal transfers and promotions (Bersin Talent Analytics Research, 2011).

Our site offers a library of tools designed to help you take advantage of this process. What our research shows is that you may be able to more than double your success rate for hiring with just a few carefully designed assessments.


As this funnel shows, you as a manager or employer should apply these assessments or tests early in the process, long before you start interviewing and spending time on background and reference tests. Why do you think companies use computer and math problems to screen candidates? These tests help quickly understand whether a candidate has the basic skills for the job. (Read about Google's process here. )

Today the assessment market is well over $800 million in size (Bersin by Deloitte research), and includes companies like Korn Ferry, SHL, DDI, CPP (Myers Briggs) and literally thousands of smaller companies that offer specialized assessments by role and job.

Think about how you select, promote, and assess candidates in your organization. There is probably a lot more "judgment" and "experience" than science in the process.

Are pre-hire assessments unfair to candidates?  Our research says no. Employers can save time and money in the screening, ultimately finding people with a strong fit for the job. And job seekers get the benefit of rapid screening, helping them figure out where their "perfect job" may be.

We are in an era of “new science of HR.” Prehire assessments are among the easiest way to apply this science to your organization.

15 Must-Ask Interview Questions to Assess Cultural Fit

Four candidates competing for one position.Most employers focus on whether or not a candidate can adequately fulfill a job. Fewer employers take the time to examine whether or not a candidate will be a good cultural fit for the organization. The most successful employees are ones who are capable of adapting to both the job and the workplace environment. Below are 15 sample interview questions to help you assess whether your candidate is a good match with your workplace culture:

  1. Describe the type or workplace environment that would make you most productive and happy.
  2. What are 3 characteristics you would admire in your boss?
  3. What’s your superpower? What talent are you really good at?
  4. What values do you consider to be most important in the workplace?
  5. What do you think makes someone trustworthy?
  6. What are the top things that must be present for an organization to communicate effectively?
  7. Why do you want to work at this company and what are your expectations?
  8. What are the positive aspects of your current job and work environment, or the last position you held before coming to this interview?
  9. What books have you read lately that you enjoyed?
  10. Do you prefer working alone or as part of a team? What percentage of your time would you allocate to each, given the choice?
  11. Who inspires you and why?
  12. When you work with a team, describe the role that you are most likely to play on the team.
  13. What motivates you to come into work every day?
  14. How do you rely on others to make you better?
  15. What is it people don’t like about you?

Sales Lessons Learned From This Year’s Super Bowl

Last month, we watched the Patriots and the Sea Hawks battle it out in Super Bowl 49.  Just 8 minutes into the game, it was obvious that second efforts would be the rule of the day.  Then, with less than two minutes left to play, we witnessed THE CATCH - requiring a fourth or perhaps even a fifth effort - that put the Sea Hawks in a position to win.  But it wasn't meant to be, as the Patriots came up big on defense with a key interception to earn the victory.

Second efforts, and more. Which brings us to selling.  How many salespeople do you think make appropriate second efforts?

I'm not talking about when salespeople are pestering prospects who have no interest.  I'm talking about when salespeople are told they lost; or when a salesperson closed the deal and then lost it when the prospect had a change of mind.

  • 54% of Salespeople have Need for Approval - A salesperson's need to be liked prevents them from asking a lot of questions beyond a no, and especially tough questions or challenging their prospect.
  • 86% of Salespeople are Too Trusting - A salesperson who is too trusting will accept at face value what their prospect says and when they hear it's a "no", they accept that and won't consider a need to push back.
  • 72% of Salespeople Have Difficulty Recovering from Rejection - Salespeople who struggle to overcome being rejected are typically in no kind of shape to quickly bounce back and make a second effort.
  • 18% of Salespeople Lack Commitment - It takes tremendous commitment to do whatever it takes to succeed in sales.  Salespeople who possess only conditional commitment -- the salesperson agrees with what must be done, it's not too difficult, and it's not too scary - will totally bail out after a "no".  It's too difficult for them to overcome.
  • 84% of Salespeople have Self-Limiting Beliefs - When salespeople are told, "No" and they believe that it's "Not polite to push back," that belief will stop most salespeople in their tracks.
  • Want to find out how your team stacks up and what you can do to increase revenue growth? Learn how here

Contributed by Dave Kurlan