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Improving the accuracy of your hiring process is something an organization must consider doing if you are going to continue to be successful in the marketplace. There are simple things you can put in place now to ensure that every new hire you make will provide the creativity, drive and excellence your company needs in a changing future. Consider the value of pre-hiring assessments as part of your hiring process: what are they? Why are they so popular and, how should you use them to help your hiring accuracy?

Consider that resumes are generally only 2% predictive of your candidate’s future job performance and most interviews are only 15% predictive, then it’s no surprise that the hiring process often feels like playing a blind-folded game of darts. When used properly, pre-hiring assessments are predictive of a person’s future workplace performance.

What is a Pre-Hiring Assessment?

Pre-hiring assessments measure a candidate’s technical skills, intellectual ability or interpersonal aptitudes as they relate to the job they are applying for. Pre-hiring assessments are distinguished from other assessments in that they predict future behavior rather than describe a personality tendency or preference. Tools like the Myers-Briggs and the DISC are powerful instruments for developing teams and leaders, but they are not designed to predict future behavior. The results from these assessments are like knowing what type of car you are buying but not knowing how well it drives in your terrain. In addition, neither instrument meets EEOC guidelines about the use of pre-employment assessments.

Pre-Hiring Assessments are Highly Predictive

A good hiring strategy is accurate and predictive. In other words, it should tell you how your candidate will perform in the future. When used properly, validated pre-hiring assessments are predictive of a person’s future workplace performance. The only other hiring tool that may be helpful is the structured behavioral interview.

Pre-Hiring Assessments Aren’t Swayed by a Great Interview

The most common hiring mistake made is to equate good interview performance with good job performance. When a candidate answers interview questions easily, articulately, and with extraverted energy, it’s human nature to assume they are also smarter, more hardworking or more capable than other candidates. Unfortunately, we’ve all been burned by someone who talks a good game but can’t get the job done! As humans, we also are swayed by candidates who are personally similar to us, good looking or referred by trusted colleagues. Assessments provide an objective tool to counterbalance these common blind spots. If your assessment results don’t match what you see, this is your cue to ask probing questions and diligently check references.

Pre-Hiring Assessments Measure the Difference Between “Good” and “Great”

The difference in performance levels between A and B players is made up almost entirely of interpersonal competencies. The good sales person sells; the great salesperson sells where there is no interest. A good cashier runs the register accurately; a great cashier runs the register accurately and makes each customer feel special. Pre-hiring assessments that measure interpersonal aptitudes focus on the vital competencies that contribute to job success. So, to make sure you get the right people on the bus, make sure you have clearly identified the difference between your “A” and “B” players and focus your hiring process on those differentiating characteristics.

Pre-Hiring Assessment Do’s and Don’ts

So, how do you get all the benefits of using a pre-hiring assessment without the possible downside? Remember that the best assessment is only as good as your hiring target. Just like the best GPS system in the world, the best pre-hire assessment won’t help if you mis- programmed your final destination! For example, if your business needs a manager who can think and act strategically, but you don’t identify, test and interview for that characteristic, you may hire an A+ candidate who can’t help you grow your business!

Don’t make any hiring decision based solely on assessment information.

The best hiring process includes a series of activities that validate each other, much in the manner of a good due diligence process. We believe that the first step is a clear definition of your hiring target. After that, we suggest you make hiring decisions based on 3 key pieces of information: 1) skills, knowledge and experience; 2) pre-hiring assessment results, and 3) rating results from a structured, behavior-based interview.

Don’t use the same pre-hiring assessment for every hire.

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, every situation will look like a nail.” Use the assessment that measures the key competencies that you’re looking for. Each pre-hiring assessment has a particular focus, strength or skill set that it’s measuring and it’s worth your while to make sure you get the information you need. Often a combination of assessments is your best bet

Make sure you are using a valid and legally defensible pre-hiring assessment.

Any pre-hiring assessment you use should be predictive of workplace behavior, and backed by extensive research to show that it measures what it says it does. It should not discriminate against anyone taking the assessment, and it should have a good anti-faking mechanism built in so your results can be trusted. To verify that any assessments you are currently using meet this criteria, your test publisher should be able to prove that its’ assessment meets the Uniform Guidelines for Testing Measurement and the EEOC Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures.