How Assessments Create Successful Manufacturing Hires

Want to make the right manufacturing hires? A 2016 MRI survey on recruiting found that 80 percent of all hires are mistakes that cost companies time and money. In manufacturing, according to research by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute, nearly 3.5 million jobs may be needed over the next ten years. Some 2 million are expected to go unfilled due to the skills gap, however. This serious issue requires a serious shift in perspective: Discovering the right fit needs to be about more than skills. A pre-employment test can accurately evaluate aptitude and personality to assess a candidate’s real potential. The good news is that there are tests to do the heavy lifting and there’s no reason not to take advantage of these tools.

Aptitude: The Key Differentiator

A pre-employment assessment, that looks at a candidate’s potential, shifts our criteria to more effectively look at talent to address today’s realities. We’re staffing up in a super-tight job market that’s also experiencing a marked skills gap, so an open position can have a direct impact on production, as a 2014 study conducted by Accenture for The Manufacturing Institute uncovered. The talent shortage is costing American manufacturers an average of 11 percent in annual earnings— or $3,000 per existing employee.

The key is to recruit for aptitude as well as skill. A pre-employment test for mechanical aptitude, for instance, may convey that a potential hire will be able to ramp up fast and learn into the job. Recent research on hiring shows that aptitude is generally a far more effective indicator of on-the-job success: it’s twice as predictive as a job interview, three times as predictive as job experience, and four times as predictive as education level.

Pre-Hiring Tests Help Shape Careers, Not Just Fill Jobs

In the big picture, successful hiring is also about considering the candidate as talent, not just a pair of eyes and a pair of hands; and acknowledging that from their point of view, it’s not just about walking into a job and staying there. We know that in general, candidates prefer organizations that offer opportunities for growth.

Additionally, manufacturing may not be perceived as having the same kind of growth potential as other fields. Not to put too fine a point on this, but manufacturing was actually ranked last by Generation Y as a career choice in that Deloitte / Manufacturing Institute study. If the perception is that you won’t be hired if you don’t already know everything and have every skill, then the company is going to lose out on applicants from the beginning.

But companies can convey the potential for growth by demonstrating that they’re screening for it. Businesses that provide tests to measure aptitudes and potential for the future may be perceived as more competitive, and therefore more desirable to candidates. As a compelling piece by my colleagues at SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management) pointed out, when companies make an effort to demonstrate that there’s a tangible skills ladder to climb, they may attract more applicants.

Metrics for Better Performance

Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute found that 80 percent of manufacturers have at least a moderate, if not a severe, shortage of qualified applicants for skilled and highly skilled production positions. The basic skills most lacking among applicants include:

  • Computer and technology skills — 70 percent lacked
  • Problem-solving skills — 69 percent lacked
  • Technical training — 67 percent lacked
  • Math skills — 60 percent lacked

So if you’re looking for new talent, screen for these as aptitudes — and then provide the training and growth that cultivates them into specific skills.

Companies can also establish benchmarks based on existing best-performing employees — a new but proven strategy that’s catching on. Take this example from Criteria Corps website: Criteria stands at the vanguard of pre-hire testing, enabling firms in the manufacturing sector — from small businesses to larger ones — to winnow out top talent efficiently. Criteria works with companies in a whole range of fields, to be sure. But here’s an example from manufacturing: an American installation and repair service company wanted to decrease turnover rates and improve the productivity of more than 3,000 service technicians. The solution: Set a standard, and go from there.

The company first administered the Wiesen Test of Mechanical Aptitude (WTMA) to one group of its techs to create a standard. What emerged was a set of scores associated with high performance that could be used as a baseline for pre-employment testing. The result with this kind of process is that everyone is happy. The candidates are happy to participate in a process that’s data-driven and transparent. Companies are satisfied because the process works. Hiring managers and recruiters are assessing candidates based on qualitative data rather than hunches, which drives a new kind of commitment we all want in our workplaces.

In terms of engagement and alignment, here’s how it works: The candidate experiences, firsthand, the company’s commitment to both making a fair hire and investing in a candidate’s learning and development. The company gets a candidate motivated to do the legwork to grow. The results: better hires, better performance, but also a better workplace. That’s better, in my book, than gambling on guesswork.

To read more from Criteria Corp about manufacturing and assessments, click here.

This post is sponsored by Criteria Corp.

Photo Credit: mycos2012 Flickr via Compfight cc