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Behaviors, Attitudes and Personal Skills - Recommendations on Using Assessments

Let me start by saying that assessments do work. They are powerful tools that have helped organizations in making countless selection decisions, and in improving communications, reducing turnover and improving retention of top people. Assessments represent an opportunity to do all these things while returning the highest ROI of any single people directed investment you can make!

Regardless of your past experience with assessments, the following recommendations can help you better utilize these very valuable tools in a variety of ways.

Recommendation #1: Use assessments to provide information in the areas that are most likely to result in success or failure in your position. Assessments add to the elements of experience, technical skills, accomplishments and education, by adding another element to the decision making process. They can identify Behaviors, Values and Personal Skills that are the real drivers of success in your organization. Assessments can provide as much as 33% of the information used in the decision making process – a critical 33%, since experience has shown that most people succeed or fail in positions because of their Behavior Fit, Value/Culture Fit and Personal Skills Fit.

Recommendation #2: Choose assessments that are designed for business use, so that your managers and leaders can use and trust the reports. If your managers don’t feel the information is specific, directed to their interests, and delivers value to them in their relationship with the person assessed, you will lose most of the leverage the assessment could have. Choose carefully based on the question ”How can our managers use this information?” Use assessments to help make business decisions.

Recommendation #3: Use assessments after candidates have passed the technical skills, education, experience, accomplishment and intuition phases of the interview process. Do not use assessments as early knockout tests, unless there are specific criteria that are absolutely essential to the success in the job, and that can be measured by very specific assessment tools.

Recommendation #4: Choose an assessment that provides the ability to benchmark a position using stakeholders input as a key part of the front end process. The term “benchmarking” brings forth perceptions ranging from” a bureaucratic activity that keeps staff people busy “ to “ a process to help define the critical elements of the job that we need to hire to”. Make sure you select to the job requirements and not to the experiences of the candidate pool – don’t let the candidate pool dictate the position requirements!!

Recommendation #5: Choose an assessment that can be handled administratively with little added burden to your people. Nothing will ensure the slow death by strangulation of a process more than the perception that it adds work out of proportion to its value. Ensure that the means for completing questionnaires and communicating results is as seamless as possible, and is not handled as an exception item in the process.

Recommendation # 6: Choose an assessment that has multiple uses for your organization. Many of the assessments available have little value beyond providing specific information about elements of a person’s “personality profile”. Look for assessments that can help in establishing development plans, benchmark positions, create constructive talking points for performance reviews, create the climate for proactive development discussions, as well as help with the selection decision. In other words, do the assessments you use or are considering result in the kind of information that can be applied in many ways? Are they designed to make it easy for you to develop, among other things, benchmark profiles of people who have been successful – and unsuccessful, in their jobs?

Recommendation #7: Choose assessments that have fast turnaround and interpretation by a qualified professional. If you have a person on your staff trained and skilled in interpretation, great. If not, make sure the assessments you use gain you 24 x 7 access to professionals qualified in interpretation, and who have a business orientation. There are a lot of assessments available on the Internet that provide quick turnaround of superficial information that looks good when first seen, but that doesn’t stand up to the hard light of day when it comes to using the information in the decision making process – the information falls under the heading of “Gee, isn’t that interesting.”

Recommendation #8: The price of the assessment should be the last thing looked at. If the process does not add value to your selection and development decisions and plans, any price is too high. On the other hand, I can guarantee you that the $20 Internet assessments fall short of giving you the level of information you could expect, given the effort required to take, review and administer them. Look at value first, then at price. In the overall scheme of selection and development, assessments, if they are right for you and used with leverage, are by far the best, most cost effective people related investment you can make.

Recommendation #9: Choose assessments that have validity studies completed. Many organizations become concerned about the use of assessments because of what they see as a potential problem with the EEOC. In my experience, inconsistent use of any selection tool can cause problems. The real issue is consistency of use, but validity is one of those insurance items that can make you feel just that much surer.

Recommendation #10: Try before you buy. Have people in your organization take the assessment or assessments you are considering, then review the results with one question in your mind – “ What value will this information have in helping me make future selection and development decisions?” You must personally experience the process to understand what it can do for your organization.

About the Author

Andy Cox and the Cox Consulting Group have helped many organizations in designing and implementing change. To reach the Cox Consulting Group, go to

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2007-11-06 14:31:50 in Employee Articles

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