ARTICLES - PERFORMANCE

Psychological Assessments in the Workplace:  Tools for Improving the Odds

How do you improve the odds of finding success when pursuing your goals in life?

One of my goals is to catch a trophy Musky (ok, anything over legal limit will suffice). Anyway, one cold, rainy fall morning I was casting my line on the waters of the Chippewa Flowage in Northern Wisconsin in pursuit of a Walleye. To my great surprise, a very large fish ended up on the end of my line! I was delighted to have gotten this fish near the boat, so I could at least get a glimpse of what was to be an extremely large Musky! What a shock it was when both the Musky and I realized (at the same moment) that the small doll fly and 8 pound test line were no match for this lunker. He took one look at me, rolled over and took off for parts unknown. I had failed to use the right "tools" to improve my odds of achieving my goal.


Improving your odds of achieving your hiring goals:

What do you do to improve the odds of hiring or promoting the "right" people for your organization? Many organizations place an ad in the newspaper, trade journal, or on the Internet to attract job applicants. After reviewing resumes, attractive applicants are interviewed and references are often checked. There is nothing wrong with this process EXCEPT it is not enough. Interviewing and reference checking are a good start, but why leave employee selection up to chance? Research provides evidence that over 30,000,000 people have lied on their resume. Studies done at the University of Michigan report only a 14% accuracy rate, when using an interview only, for hiring new employees. Even if you are better than "average", it still leaves much to chance.

What is a pre-employment assessment?

The exact method can vary, however, when conducted by a professional, the format usually includes the use of paper and pencil testing and an interview. There are many options today to provide pre-employment testing. The Internet is one of the more recently developed methods of testing that can contribute convenience and objectivity while being easily accessible. Whatever method of testing is determined to be needed (no matter how it is administered by a skilled professional), it must directly measure the competencies required for the specific job in question.

As far as the Internet and self-administered assessments go, let the "buyer beware". Some are adequate; many are not. Be sure that the instruments or procedures you use are adequately validated and are reliable measures for the competencies required for the position being filled. If the assessment method used is not valid and reliable, it is a waste of resources. Although engaging a professional (business psychologist) may increase the cost of the evaluation, using assessment material on your own could be compared to "rolling the dice". Sometimes it works and often it doesn't.

Generally tests are selected based upon the specific and unique skills and competencies required in a job. Interview questions are tailored to the specific job as well. Verbal and written reports are provided, in most cases, as part of a complete selection process. This is what you should expect for an objective, scientifically proven process that is most likely to provide you with the candidates that come closest to what you are wanting. It significantly increases the probability of your decision being based on information that is accurate and defensible regarding your final choice.

Ok, I am convinced that these are of value, but how much does this cost?

Before one can truly determine the cost versus benefits of pre-employment assessments, it is important to calculate the costs of NOT using a scientific and professional selection process in gathering your critically important information.
Research demonstrates that when you select the wrong employee (or the right employee leaves) replacement, training and lost productivity cost the equivalent of annual salary plus benefits multiplied by 2.5. (For top managers it can range from 3-5 times their annual salary, plus benefits) Some research evidences that the replacement of a manager or sales person can even range as high as 10 times their annual salary (according to Building Winning Teams, by Plotkin).
The cost of turnover in businesses in the USA in the year 2000 was estimated to be 140 billion dollars. So, as we look at the cost of assessing candidates for a position in your company, keep in mind the significantly greater cost of making the "wrong" decision.

Generally, the costs of pre-employment assessment conducted by a psychologist ranges from $700 to $2500 depending upon the vacant position. The cost sometimes varies depending on the type, or number, of competencies necessary to be evaluated.

So what does all this mean?
What can I do to improve the odds of "catching" the "right" employee?

Use the appropriate tools to give you the edge. Pre-employment assessments add the "tools" required to provide the critically important information (that cannot be obtained by any other means), necessary for intelligent decision-making.
I know I will use quality Musky bait, and a 25-pound test line, the next time I go fishing for my trophy catch!

For further information or to schedule pre-employment testing in your organization please feel free to contact us at ldahlke@psychologyforbusiness.com.

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