To Use Assessments in Recruiting or Not?

Although it is easier now to screen candidates even before the first phone call is placed to a prospective candidate, it also makes it more challenging to decipher if the information on LinkedIn, etc. is accurate and depicts the person well. Companies have also downsized their recruiting staffs so the amount of time that a recruiter can focus on one particular assignment may be less than in years past. Executive search firms have come under pressure to not only deliver good candidates but ones that surpass even what the client initially thought they wanted.

So how does one evaluate a candidate quickly and effectively? Assessments are being utilized more than ever as part of the recruitment process. Some of these assessments are basic “tests” that determine one’s analytical skills. Others are geared to certain functional areas like sales where the questions are focused on identifying the person’s selling and marketing skills. Still others delve deep into how a person behaves and what motivates them.

To determine if the use of assessments makes sense for your organization consider the following:

1. What is it that you want to learn about the candidate?

Some assessments like DISC explain “how” a candidate behaves. In other words, the report details if the person is more of an introvert or an extrovert. It also identifies if they tend to be more people oriented versus task oriented. This works well for management roles because ideally you want a balanced team and a leader who knows how to capitalize on each team member’s strengths.

I personally like the two graph DISC especially when I am coaching a client. One graph is labeled the Natural Graph which shows how a person behaves in their “home state”. The Adapted Graph (also known as the Masked Graph) depicts the person in their work setting. The reason it is also referred to as the Masked Graph is because some people “wear a mask” at work and act in a manner they feel the company wants them to operate in. Of course, by doing this they create undue stress for themselves. Some companies, however, choose to use only the one DISC graph because they are interested only in how a person behaves on the job and not at home.

2. How qualified is the hiring manager and/or recruiting team in understanding the results of the assessment(s)?

I have been certified in the DISC and Motivators assessments for several years and have taught classes on this topic as well. It is important to understand all the intricacies of the report to fully understand an individual. However in most cases the ones reading the report have never been educated so truly do not have a full grasp of what they are reviewing. If the company is going to use assessments, it is imperative to train all those who will review the report. In addition, they have to fully understand that assessments are only one part of the overall candidate evaluation.

I knew a hiring manager, a SVP in a major financial services firm, who would only at the look at the “negative items” on the assessment report. That would not be the worst thing if they then probed the candidate in an interview to learn more. However, this person would just discard the candidate even if they had been highly recommended or had a stellar career history.

It is just like when you applied for college. You did not just submit your academic grades. You also supplied your SAT and ACT scores, recommendations from your guidance counselor and certain teachers, and an essay or two. The college admissions office then looked at your “entire profile” to determine if they wanted to admit you as a student there or not.

3. Are the results easy to understand?

I have reviewed assessments that my clients have administered and I find some are very difficult to understand. Some assessments have too many components and/or they use their own phrasing that no lay person could comprehend. The reason to use an assessment is to have another way to evaluate a candidate. It is not meant to be an exhaustive and confusing analysis for hiring managers and recruiting staffs.

Regardless of which assessments are utilized, it is imperative to review their effectiveness periodically. I would also highly recommend that as part of the on-boarding process, the human resources department ask new employees what they thought of the assessments. These people could be a wealth of information especially if they were interviewing at other companies. They may be able to recommend other assessments that could be much more effective for your organization. In addition, they may provide valuable insight including how they felt about some of the questions or even the whole assessment. More importantly, they may have felt the assessment was too invasive which made them question if they wanted to continue going through the recruitment process. For this reason, make sure these assessments are considered selection assessments. If ones are used that are not, a potential lawsuit could occur so be careful.