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How to Use Assessments When Hiring

Kristen Harcourt Jun 2, 2016 6:30:00 AM

Interview_Questions.jpgResearch has shown that using assessments can reduce cost-per-hire, increase productivity and lower turnover, but just using assessments isn’t always enough. To get full value from your assessment tool it’s worthwhile to consider how to use assessments when hiring within your specific recruitment process.

In this blog I want to go over a couple of different ways our clients use assessments in a high-volume recruiting environment versus a more normal process (is there such a thing as “normal recruiting?”).

No matter what your recruiting model is, the first step is always the same: create a benchmark of what traits the ideal candidate should have. This simple step is often skipped in the rush to fill a role, but it can dramatically increase your likelihood of success. According to research by Aberdeen, best-in-class companies are 2.1 times more likely to have profiles of top performers to use in the hiring process.

It’s also a great way to get the hiring team on the same page about what will be required for a new hire to succeed, and avoid costly delays later in the process.

Our clients use the McQuaig Job Survey to create a behavioral profile of the ideal candidate. There are three methods you can use for creating this ideal candidate profile:

  1. Individual Method: One person completes survey (usually HR or the hiring manager)
  2. Stakeholder Method: All stakeholders complete the survey (ex. HR professionals and hiring managers). This ensures that all those involved in the hiring process have a unified understanding of the ideal candidate for the position.
  3. Top Performer Method: Top performers in the same position complete the survey to provide a profile of the behaviors that make them successful.

From there our customers tend to embed these traits into their recruitment processes from start to finish. This includes using the information from the report in any job description, advertisements or publications to attract the right candidates. Some even go as far as creating an Employee Persona.

Once you’ve got your target established, it’s time to move onto measuring your candidates against it.

How to Use Assessments When Hiring - Low or Regular Volume Recruitment

This is the process we recommend for most recruiting situations. In this scenario, a behavioral or cognitive assessment (preferably both) is used to provide deeper insight into a handful of qualified candidates and inform your final decision. Here’s an example of what that process may look like:

  • Complete ideal candidate profile using behavioral success criteria
  • Screen candidates according to your regular process
  • Conduct screening interviews - use the behvaioral interview questions from the job profile report to get at relevant examples of a candidate’s past experience
  • Invite short-listed candidates to complete an assessment
  • Review the candidate reports, looking for level of match with your benchmark (this is automatically provided by The McQuaig System), and discuss any concerns with the hiring team.
  • Equip hiring managers with customized behavioral interview questions from the report to use in interviews
  • Repeat as necessary per your process

How to Use Assessments When Hiring  - High-Volume Recruitment

High volume recruitment with a behavioral assessment follows many of the same steps as low volume recruitment, but with one major difference: assessing candidates comes earlier.  In this scenario, some of our clients who recruit for high-volume roles, such as call centers, use assessments as a pre-screening tool. It will look like this:

  • Complete ideal candidate profile using behavioral success criteria
  • Have all applicants complete a behavioral assessment
  • Screen candidates using the Job Fit Assessment rating in each candidate report
  • Invite those who are a strong match, and meet your other criteria, to continue to the next phase of your recruiting process.

While some of our clients do use this process successfully, it’s not one we generally recommend. No single input should ever be the sole reason for accepting or rejecting a candidate. Assessments will provide you with truly valuable insights into how someone will perform on the job, but they are still just one part of the puzzle.

If an applicant has a promising background and experience, they are worth speaking with in person, even if they aren’t a strong match for the benchmark. You can then use the behavioral interview guide to better probe for the behaviors that will spell success in the job.

Do you use assessments? What’s working, and not working, for you?


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Topics: Recruitment

Kristen Harcourt

Written by Kristen Harcourt

Kristen Harcourt is a highly trusted, creative and collaborative advisor who is passionate about people. She really enjoys helping companies make the right people decisions to achieve long term productivity.