Assessment Tools to Play Bigger Role In Hiring

December 20, 2016 – Managers today estimate that one-in-five employees should not have been hired, according to a new study by CEB, a best practice insight and technology company. This may be because applicants didn’t meet basic requirements (65 percent won’t), the cultural fit with the organization wasn’t there or the hiring manager lacked the evidence-based tools to make a good decision.

Fortunately, talent assessments can help employers reduce the number of regretted hires and ease recruiter pressure, while enabling leaders to focus their energies on core growth strategies to drive the business forward.

Battle for the Best Worker

CEB’s research took a close look into why talent assessments are so important during a time when the battle for the best worker is more fierce than ever. Here is a closer look into the report’s findings and the top five benefits of talent assessments:

Hire Better People Faster. Whether assessing job seekers’ skills for frontline positions, pinpointing high-potential in managers, or determining leadership candidates’ fit to roles, different assessment tools can identify the right match regardless of level in the organization.

Ensure Objectivity In Hiring. Talent assessments, backed by science, add a level of objectivity to the hiring process that goes beyond “gut feel.” Progressive companies are using machine learning algorithms, which identify top candidates by reviewing resumes based on patterns of features associated with high and low performers within a specific company and role. These algorithmic assessments are an excellent complement to psychometric assessments. Used together, they significantly minimize the biases that are inherent with human decision making and focusing on verified data to increase the likelihood of companies hiring the candidates that fit best.

Provide Tangible ROI. HR organizations need to be able to quantify the business impact of talent acquisition and development programs using key metrics like employee productivity in role, job performance, future potential, and engagement. Talent assessments offer an opportunity for HR teams to consistently measure and collect key data around performance and future potential to support these efforts.

Inject Transparency Into the Hiring Process. Lack of clarity in the application process can deter candidates from applying for jobs. Utilizing candidate-centric assessments enables employers to create a positive experience for applicants by providing meaningful information and feedback throughout the process. Candidates are able to make more informed decisions about their alignment with the role and have a better overall experience with the employer’s brand.

Create Opportunity for Conversation. A good selection process is a two-way interaction, and the best talent management programs use what is discovered through the assessment process to provide coaching and development to current employees. Even candidates who are not selected can still learn about their workstyle by taking an assessment and gain feedback to inform future job-hunting and development.

“While there is sometimes skepticism around assessments, these science-based assessment tools – together with human interpretation of the results – have been established as a far more reliable way to make recruitment, development, and promotion decisions than human judgement alone,” said Jean Martin, talent solutions architect, CEB. “Given the current labor market and the pressure for companies to get hiring and leadership development right, it’s no longer a question of whether to use talent assessments or not. It’s about finding ways for companies and candidates to gain greater value and insight from the experience.”

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Candidate Experience

To get started hiring the right people, companies should first understand what drives their business and what competencies are necessary for an employee to be successful. Before embarking on an assessments program, organizations need to consider the candidate experience.

Consider that new hires who report a positive candidate experience apply 15 percent more discretionary effort and are 38 percent more likely to stay with the organization. Companies can make the experience better for candidates by partnering with them to learn how to make the process easier and more valuable to them.

Finally, companies should leverage assessment results beyond the hiring process to design strategic development plans based on the strengths and development areas the assessments identify.

Assessment Tools Gaining Traction

Executive search firms have been stepping up with an array of leadership assessment services that are starting to make massive strides in the field of predictive analytics.

In October, London-based advisory firm ALC launched a new assessment tool, ALC Insights. The offering is designed to fill a knowledge gap in the hiring process and, once employed, according to ALC founding partner, Tim Connolly, in just a matter of hours it could provide a more complete and dynamic profile of any candidate being screened.

What makes it really unique is that this off-the-shelf assessment tool can be licensed by any search firm. That, its founder said, could level the playing field in this hotly contested new area of executive search and leadership solutions services.

“ALC is in a uniquely privileged position in that its clients are search firms and this assessment tool is the only one of its kind designed for the industry,” Mr. Connolly said. The assessment tool can be tailored specifically for the use of a particular search firm or for a particular client of a search firm, or for the recruitment of a particular job function within a company, further increasing its hoped-for relevance. “Given that this assessment tool is much more robust and leagues ahead of its competition, we expect it to take the search industry by storm.”

Some search firms see it a different way, and are either partnering with analytics platform providers or designing their own custom-made assessment tools.

Caldwell Partners recently formed a partnership with Caliper, a research-based talent management consulting firm focused on assessment and leadership development. The agreement will integrate Caliper’s assessment and onboarding services into Caldwell Partners’ research-based executive search process in Canada. CEO John Wallace said that competency assessments performed by the firm’s partners “remain the most valuable aspect of our service,” and give them a “distinct advantage” in the marketplace.

Executive search firm Allen Austin recently partnered with ENGAGE, a sourcing intelligence platform that combines big data and predictive analytics to identify potential targets, to increase overall business intelligence, and enhance sourcing efficiency. The firm forged the alliance as it looked for productive technology to improve speed, execution and growth predictability, particularly one with advancements in analytics.

“Utilizing our proprietary Foresight (strategy focused on long-term relationships) process in combination with ENGAGE’s predictive analytics, we are potentially cutting our research and candidate development time by half,” said Rob Andrews, Allen Austin chairman and CEO. “These powerful analytics will enhance speed of execution and support our commitment of bringing our clients the best possible talent in the market, not just a suitable slate.”

Russell Reynolds Associates, one of the ‘Big Five’ assessment providers, recently formed a partnership with Hogan Assessments, a global provider of personality assessment and leadership development. The alliance is designed to increase the success rate of executive appointments and accelerate the development of rising leaders. It combines Russell Reynolds’ expertise in advising senior executives and boards on executive search and succession planning with Hogan’s suite of assessment instruments, data assets and scientific acumen.

“The cost of betting on the wrong leader has never been higher,” said Reynolds’ chief executive officer Clarke Murphy. “That said, innovation in the executive assessment space has not kept pace with the rate of change confronting senior executives.”

Mr. Murphy said the initial stage of working with Hogan will be “sharply focused” on the creation of an assessment approach that is purpose-built to predict success (both short- and long-term) in senior executive roles. “For decision-makers, ‘increasing predictability’ really means ‘reducing risk,’” he said. “The risk associated with executive selection and hiring has always been high. But, as executive roles have become more complex, the risk of making the wrong hiring decision has increased meaningfully.”

Options Group, a boutique search provider, recently named Debbie Freer as head of OGNext, the firm’s classified strategic initiative. Its market intelligence unit, OG iQ, provides solutions in culture assessments as well as competency assessment, metrics, identification of key talent, and benchmarking.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media

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