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Don’t Trust Your Gut—Assess and Be Sure

Your people are your greatest assets, and the people you hire to create and manage all of your other assets. Thinking about it in this way, who can argue that there is anything more important to your business than who you hire?

It used to be that we chose candidates based strictly on their education and work experience—qualifications that should be toward the end of our list, with rare exception. We now know that our primary focus should be understanding how future employees will behave, how well they will adapt, what their values are, and what motivates them. These are qualities that are not easily understood on paper, in interviews, or through highly unreliable gut feelings. They need to be captured through pre-employment assessment—a critical tool for hiring the right people for the long term.

Pre-employment assessments add insight into candidates’ suitability for a specific position, regardless of their academic achievements, technical skills or experience. Based on your pre-determined criteria, they can help you sift through stacks of applicants and reduce the number who move on to the next step in your hiring process to only those who match your culture and values.

According to the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), 68 percent of organizations are using pre-employment assessments. There are countless reasons why, including the fact that we are experiencing both a skill shortage and a shift in power from employer to employee. This means that there is a smaller pool of talent and more competition to win the best. Additionally, we’ve heard for years that the costs of attracting and retaining good people can be devastatingly high. With the more competitive talent market, it will only increase the costs and importance of maintaining a strong employment brand and an engaging culture to protect the investment you make in your people.

Pre-employment assessments don’t just allow you to play better defense, they also benefit your organization in numerous ways. As Lloyd Gottman, CEO of Synergetic Systems, puts it: “The largest productivity gain available to businesses today is putting the right people in the right jobs, producing outstanding results. Good, predictive pre-employment assessments provide you with the resources and engaged employees to achieve much higher success levels, which bring greater customer satisfaction, growth, profits and corporate value.”

Given the changes in the market, this is a great time to take a new broad and realistic snapshot of your organization. Make certain that your hiring practices are both inclusive and diverse; hiring managers are fully trained; biases are addressed; hiring processes are fair and equal. Even if you’re already one of the 68 percent using pre-employment assessments, make sure that you are using the appropriate assessment, one in which the qualities you are evaluating match the qualifications of the position you’re hiring for.

Pre-employment assessments should be valid, measuring what they are intended to measure and predictive of the specific job performance. They should also be reliable, producing consistent results. They are either general or work-based, evaluating potential short- and long-term success in the job, and how comfortable a candidate is likely to be in performing the job.

Whatever combination of assessments you use, be sure that you create a positive experience for your candidates. Assessments should be well-designed; instructions should be clear; candidates’ time and effort should be acknowledged and appreciated.

Pre-employment assessments are an opportunity to give people a positive first impression of your culture and values, even when the assessment is offered online. They also speed up the hiring process, reduce your hiring risks, and save costs by reducing turnover and increasing productivity.

People aren’t just looking for a job; they want to find an organization where they believe they can make an individual contribution. A pre-employment assessment helps you, and the candidate, determine whether that’s achievable. You can’t feel that in your gut.

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