One thing I’ve learned about hiring throughout the years is that there’s no single assessment that can ensure you’ve made the perfect hire. Hiring is a combination of empirical analysis and gut feel. However, there are now lots of different assessments available, and you can find one that makes sense for your work environment and teams. Using the right one can help increase the odds that you’re adding a great new member to your company.
Everyone who went to university in the United States is familiar with the ACT and SAT exams at the undergraduate level, and the GRE, GMAT, LSAT and MCAT at the graduate level. These were (and still are) fairly dreadful rites of passage with wide-ranging (in)accuracies in predicting for success in college, much less beyond in the workplace. So why do they exist? Because universities are inundated with applicants and need a differentiating factor to dispassionately eliminate large numbers of those seeking a place.
Thankfully, professional assessments are more useful than SATs, though, just like SATs, they provide no guarantees. For example, potential employees may try to game the system by giving the answer they think is “correct” rather than the one they would truly pick. Also, emotional intelligence, soft skills and generally positive personality traits don’t necessarily account for how someone will perform in your specific environment.
How to assess?
A helpful way to personalize whichever assessment(s) you end up picking to add to your hiring process is to reverse engineer and look for holes. This can be done by having team members take the assessments and then examine the patterns that occur. Those findings can be brought to the team and discussed for ways of improvement overall but can also provide a roadmap for the type of team members that should be brought on in the future.
Gaps and holes in the makeup of the team can be highlighted as qualities to seek in a new team member. Now the assessment can become intelligent and personalized. Even more importantly, the information goes both ways. A new hire can be given the assessment results of his team members so he/she can get to know them in a helpful way as part of the orientation process.
You can do assessments before or after interviews. Before interviews can help reduce the number of interviews you actually wish to conduct, and after interviews can help narrow down the field among favorites.
There are many excellent assessments available, but I’ve outlined a few that should prove helpful in assessing candidates for your open positions.
Berke: I’ve used their service for pre-screening potential applicants, and it seems to deliver very accurate job fit matches. Berke is based on skills relative to particular jobs to deliver an overall percentage match or job fit for each candidate. After designing a job template, you can use it to standardize your hiring practice for a certain job function.
Interview Mocha: Boasting clients like Sephora and Credit Suisse, Interview Mocha has a library of over 1,000 assessments, testing anywhere from skills in Amazon Web Services and SAP to social media marketing. They offer a free trial in which you can test 10 candidates.
Lytmus: Venture-backed San Franscisco firm Lytmus helps assess potential engineers for including like Cisco and Pinterest, among others. They pride themselves on not offering brainteasers but real-world tasks that your potential new hires would actually encounter in your work environment. Like Mailchimp they have a “free forever” plan with some limited assessments which will let you see if it works well for your firm.
“Big Five” is also known as the “Five Factor Model.” This theory focuses on the association between words rather than neuropsychology. The five factors in question are openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Each of these factors represents a range between two extremes. Extraversion, for example, is a point on a spectrum between extreme extraversion and extreme introversion.
DiSC theory was actually first proposed by Dr. William Marston, who we know today as the creator of the character of Wonder Woman. He never created an assessment from his theory but others did and that’s what we have available today. The letters stand for Dominance, Inducement, Submission and Compliance. Dr. Marston examined each of these types within the context of the individual and his/her environment: was it favorable or not and was there control of that environment or not.
What for many years was known as StrengthsFinder has recently been rebranded CliftonStrengths after the author of the Strengths-based assessments, Don Clifton. Offering a theory backed by research long before it was popular in the zeitgeist, Clifton proposed ditching the “work on your weaknesses” idea and instead proposed doubling down on your strengths, once they had been clearly identified.
Whether you choose skills or personality assessments to help you in your hiring process, it’s important to keep in mind that these can only provide snapshots of the candidate – helpful snapshots – but snapshots all the same. They should be a complement to other parts of your hiring process that make sure that this candidate is a cultural fit and a real potential asset for your firm. Using these assessments will always give you a more complete picture of your potential hires, and can lead to better hires as a result.