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Pre Employment Testing

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.

The Worst Interview Question Ever

job-interviewby  Ryan Daly, contributor to ERE.Net “What is your greatest weakness?” is the worst interview question, ever.

Here’s why you should be asking candidates about their greatest strength.

What is your greatest weakness? If there was such a thing as a universally despised interview question, this would top the list. Sell me this pencil is a close second.

Job candidates hate this question because it puts them in an impossible situation. On the one hand, they could actually admit their greatest weakness. But, would you hire someone who told you that they were unorganized or tended to butt heads with his or her coworkers? On the other hand, he or she could lie and spin a strength.  Sometimes I’m too hardworking. Of course you are. The last time I was interviewing for jobs, I mastered the art of cheeky avoidance. I possess super-human strength, but only when I’m angry.

The interviewers, for their part, hate this question because it’s cliché, and because they know it will be met with a B.S. answer, no matter how cleverly they ask. My favorite example is, tell me why, in five years, I have to fire you. My favorite answer? Economic downturn.

And, even if we managed to get a completely honest answer, would it even matter? The answer is no, for three reasons:

  1. First, they probably don’t know the answer. A 2006 analysis of 360-degree ratings showed strong a correlation between peer and supervisor ratings, but there was only a modest correlation between self-supervisor and self-peer ratings. In other words, most people have no idea how the rest of the world sees them. As one of my colleagues often puts it, everyone thinks they are smart, funny, and great in bed, but that doesn’t mean it’s true.
  2. Next, anyone with the level of self-awareness it takes to actually pinpoint their greatest weakness (and the cajonesto tell you) likely also possesses the presence of mind to put mechanisms in place to prevent that weakness from impacting his or her performance. For example, someone who knows that he or she tends to procrastinate (like me) will set hard deadlines for him or herself and use scheduling and productivity apps to keep them on track.
  3. Finally, most of your hires won’t fail because of their greatest weakness. Most of them will fail because they overplay their greatest strength. Here’s the science: a 2009 study of personality information from 126 managers and performance ratings from 1,500 of their coworkers showed that, as levels of certain strengths increased past a certain point, their effectiveness decreased. Anyone who has been in the workforce long has seen how this plays out. An ambitious new employee on your sales team turns cutthroat under the pressure to meet his or her numbers, and starts competing with members of his or her own team. Or, a detail-oriented accounting manager turns into a micro-manager.

I’m certainly not saying that weaknesses don’t impact our performance — they do. But weaknesses are easy to spot, and easy to compensate or correct. Because overused strengths are born in our blind spots, they can be hard to spot until they’ve already had a devastating effect.

Bottom line, stop asking dumb question. Instead, learn a surefire performance based approach to interviewing that get gives you real answers to important and relevant questions that will tell you if the candidate is right for the position.

Call us for more information: 800-700-6507

The Staggering Cost of a Bad Hire

Finding the right person for the job isn't easy. Often times, the position will go unfilled for a while and it becomes very tempting to hire a mediocre person, or someone who isn't completely qualified.  However, the cost of a bad hire can have dramatic effects on your business.  Take a look at this infographic based off of a survey from Careerbuilder.


Learn how to take the guesswork out of hiring. Visit our website today!

Smart Interview Questions to Ask Before Hiring Inside Sales Reps

successful-face-to-face-sales-meetingsAuthor: Josiane Feigon, President - TeleSmart Communications, Inc This is a great article and I think most of these questions apply to outside sales people as well.

Do you need to hire some inside sales reps this year? Are you tired of asking the same old interview questions and getting the same answers? Finding good talent is getting harder - especially with the growing demands of the inside sales role. How you interview and hire is the beginning and if you use old interview questions, you will get the same results. It’s time to refresh your new-hire interview questions with our free Team Behavioral Interview Questions. These are loaded with: Tons of new questions you can reference during your interview process. New categories such as problem-solving and dealing with ambiguity and multi-tasking. Insights on what drives behavior and what motivates individuals. Click here to read 25 great interview questions.