Using Assessments to Improve Hiring Results

Using Assessments to Improve Hiring Results

With talent at a premium, hiring managers should look for any and every advantage to attract the right people. Yet, according to an Inc. Magazine article by Kay McFadden, most executives are not great at hiring:

The research is conclusive, according to all the human resources specialists we interviewed. The people most confident in their abilities to predict and measure who will be successful at a given company or role actually tend to be the least good at it. There’s an over-confidence with a direct correlation to lack of success, whether the business is big or small.

It is not surprising that going with a “gut feel” on hiring is not a reliable approach. The article goes on to discuss the use of pre-hire assessments to help.

So a test furnishes perspective, balance and fairness. The data is unequivocal, if you use a consistent, well-validated approach versus a gut decision, you will make better hires over the long run. This is beyond dispute.

But which tools and assessments should an organization use? There are several to choose from, including this list from a article:

  • Qualification screens
  • Structured interviews
  • Job simulations
  • Knowledge and skills tests
  • Talent measures
  • Culture fit and values inventories
  • Background investigations
  • Integrity tests
  • Drug screens
  • Physical abilities tests

The article also says that, to be effective, assessment tools must meet three key conditions:

  1. They must be chosen on the basis of a clear definition of performance for the job in question.
  2. They must effectively measure the key candidate characteristics that influence job performance.
  3. They must be deployed in a standardized, consistent fashion that ensures that all candidates are assessed in the same way.

For an alternative perspective, Lou Adler suggests that personality assessments should not be used for screening candidates. Instead, Adler prescribes using a performance-based hiring interview for controlling interviewing based mistakes. The pre-screen personality assessment mistakes Adler describes include false positives (hiring weak candidates) and false negatives (excluding strong candidates).

What’s the right answer? Are assessment tools and great hiring mutually exclusive?

For help to figure out the best approach, I enlisted the services of Dr. Nancy Rowell, Founder of Insight Into Talent. Dr. Rowell provides comprehensive assessment services to organizations for hiring, coaching, team building and leadership development.

“At Insight into Talent we assess and predict your candidate’s fit while minimizing costs of a new hire. Using both objective data and an open-ended interview process, we give you a lens into a candidate’s talent and potential for success”

Dr. Rowell recommended that, in order to help me understand the value and use of assessments in hiring and developing talent, I should take a few myself. So, in full guinea pig mode, I took these three online assessments:

16 Personality Factor Questionnaire (16 PF) measures personality and predicts emotional resilience, relationship and communication skills, work approach, and leadership influence.

Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (WGCTA) measures critical thinking ability and predicts decision making and problem solving ability.

The Holland Assessment for determining career interests.

The assessments were straightforward, and I completed them in a reasonable amount of time. Dr. Rowell then provided results in a report format that included an executive summary and additional detail. The reports were very accurate in describing my strengths, areas for improvement and what that meant for various roles (my sample test results available upon request). Even though I knew in advance how well the tools can work, Dr. Rowell’s additional insights based on our meetings (interviews) provided customized information that helped me understand their power in making a decision for hiring. Dr. Rowell pointed out that these results provide another data point in the hiring process but should not be used as a yes or no indicator.

According to Dr. Rowell, finding talent starts with a strong resume and good personal impressions, typically developed through interviews. But research shows that typical job interviews alone have only a 20% chance at predicting hiring success. Assessments take you a step further by providing insights into who people are, what they do and how they fit with a company’s competencies and values. And that significantly raises the probability of selecting and retaining the right talent.

For help in improving hiring results in your organization, please contact us.


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Guest Post: Employer Brand – from a Candidate Perspective

Guest Post: Employer Brand – from a Candidate Perspective

This week we are featuring a new partner for Future State Talent, TalentLumen and their President Lee Ann Cimperman. Lee Ann is a marketing and branding professional, and founder of TalentLumen.

Through her company, Lee Ann helps clients develop and implement employer branding strategies that help companies attract people who share their mission, values and purpose. In this article, previously published on TalentLumen’s website, Lee Ann discusses finding the best job matches through an employer’s brand.

Our ancestral DNA taught us how to search. Our ancestors hunted for the best sources of food and shelter. Now we search for the best job opportunities that will nourish body (food and shelter), mind (engaging work), and professional soul (bigger purpose)!

As a member of Gen X, I remember anxiously waiting for the paper to arrive on Sunday morning in 1990. Equipped with a red BIC® marker, I was ready to take on the job hunt. My arsenal of weapons included my resume and my word processor to customize cover letters and mailing envelopes. It was pretty much the only way to find a job ad and a job.

OK Generation Y and Z, you can’t even relate to the first paragraph! Let’s just agree there have been a lot of changes in 25 years! Enter applicant tracking systems, social media, professional networking sites, niche job boards, career websites, and talent communities. Job seekers have information available 24/7/365. With talent shortages and generational shifts, the next 5 – 10 years will see more changes as talent markets continue to tighten.

Our DNA Was Meant To Search

Beyond job information, another aspect of change is the publicly available information on a company. Unless a company was also mentioned in the newspaper or on TV in 1990 not much was to be considered when applying for a job.

Today, smart job seekers are spending time researching companies of interest. Why? We are curious beings! Our ancestral DNA taught us how to search. Our ancestors hunted for the best sources of food and shelter. Now we search for the best job opportunities that will nourish body (food and shelter), mind (engaging work), and professional soul (bigger purpose)!

Companies Want To Be Found For Their Jobs

In the past, companies wanted to be found by the consumer for the products or services they delivered. Companies are now addressing that people are searching from the candidate perspective for the career opportunities they offer. Employer branding,recruitment branding, or talent branding are new industry terms for the approach companies are taking to express their unique brand as an employer and to draw in right-fit talent.

Companies who are sharing their employer brand go beyond the basics of sharing compensation and benefits (food and shelter). They explain their culture, career opportunities, and the purpose of their organization. Companies such as Google have shared their employer brand for years, but now smaller organization are sharing their inside story.

3 Tips For Seeing Through An Employer’s Brand

It’s important for candidates and job seekers to know what to look for when seeking a company who is authentic and transparent with their employer brand.

  1. The Good, Bad & Ugly – Look for companies that are utopian societies, painting pictures of rainbows and ponies. STOP…RIGHT THERE! No company is perfect! Why? Companies are comprised of people. People are not perfect. Business markets are not perfect. Think of any real relationship. There is transparency and authenticity; something you should look for in a company. A company may have a bad review on GlassDoor® from the occasional disgruntled worker but they may have 10 good ones. Did they address the complaint? If a company has the ugly scar of a layoff, take into consideration the business climate or the help they gave to displaced workers.
  2. Peer Testimonials – You’ve seen the 2 minute video of the CEO saying how great it is to work for his/her company. The CEO is the person in charge of maintaining a company’s mission and value in the marketplace and should be leading the charge. However, as the candidate you must look beyond the CEO’s message for video or content from workers who might be your peers. Get a feel for what it’s like from their perspective.
  3. Mutual Promise – In the employer brand world, companies create an “EMPLOYER VALUE PROPOSITION” or EVP. It is an employer’s promise of what it is like to work at the company, but it also has a flip slide. It should also convey what the company values and expects in people who would be successful members of their team. Not only look at what a company can do for you, but what you can do for a company. Does the company’s EVP match your personal and career goals?

Since you don’t have to wait until next Sunday’s paper to work on your job search, start now to tap into your hunter DNA with these tips!

Lee Ann Cimperman PC, SHRM-CP is an Employer Brand Strategist and President of Talent Lumen, LLC


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Leading with Purpose

Leading with Purpose

For several years I have served on the board of a wonderful non-profit organization in Cleveland called Towards Employment whose mission is to empower individuals to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through employment. Many of the individuals served start with few marketable job skills, and have other barriers to employment. However, once through the Towards Employment programs, and combined with other services provided there, most of these individuals find jobs that begin to change their lives in a very positive way.

From their nationally recognized Executive Director, Jill Rizika, through all the staff, the Towards Employment mission is at the center of activities and conversations. I’ve never met a more dedicated and passionate team. They are selfless and tireless advocates for their program participants. That dedication shows in the results. Each year at our board retreats we invite participant grads to tell us about their experiences. Their stories are inspiring, often describing starting from poverty or incarceration and ending in finding a job as well as self-respect. I feel honored and privileged to be affiliated with this organization.

Interestingly, the organization has very little turnover. While I have never conducted an employee engagement survey of the staff, I believe they are happy because of the mission they serve and the impact they are able to make in their roles. Even though this example is with a non-profit, corporations also recognize the importance of having a purpose beyond profit. Here are some examples.

In a 2016 Workday article titled 6 Priorities CEO’s Care Most About  the authors cited a KPMG survey of CEO’s who said they recognized the importance of having an attractive culture in order to attract and retain talent. According to the study, “Having a purpose that employees can align to, providing the skills and opportunities to learn and grow, and building an inclusive culture are all critical to attracting and retaining the best talent, which in turn helps drive innovation initiatives that drive the business forward.”

Today I read an article in Crain’s Cleveland magazine about the difficulties CPA firms are having attracting and retaining accounting grads. In the article, Mark Ross, Market Leader for the Lake Erie region of PWC discusses the importance of purpose. “A company’s success today has to involve more than the bottom line,”- Mark Ross, PWC Click To Tweet “And I’m convinced that delivering sustainable profit requires a clear and consistent linkage between a firm’s purpose and the strategy for people.”

Recently I attended a presentation by Louis Efron, author of How to Find a Job, Career and Life You Love – a Journey to Purpose, Fulfillment and Life Happiness, and self-described Voice of Purpose. Efron said that purpose is the reason an organization exists. He went on to say that great organizations have each of the following:

Mission – What an organization is meant to accomplish
Vision – Where an organization is headed, their destination
Purpose – Why an organization exists, and the single most important tool that will lead to success

Efron provided support for his claim, quoting statistics from Firms of Endearment that purpose driven companies experienced 1646% growth between 1996 and 2011, nearly 11X companies of the composite S&P, which experienced 157% growth.

For organization leaders the message is clear. Leading with purpose is good for employees and, therefore, good for business.

For help in clarifying your purpose, and designing and implementing purposeful talent programs in your organization, please contact us.

To contribute to Towards Employment, please click here.



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