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Applicant Assessments: Testing The Waters

(Editor’s Note: We invite you to discuss candidate screening techniques in more detail with the entire TalentCulture community, this week at #TChat Events on Wednesday, February 19th. For details, see the #TChat Preview post: Hiring Great Talent: How Do You Decide?)

Can you tell from a resume if an applicant has the skills needed to succeed in a job? How do you know if someone is really the right fit for your company?

If you’re unsure, perhaps pre-employment tests should be part of your evaluation process. Knowledge is power — and assessments can be a powerful addition to any hiring toolkit.

Evaluating Job Candidates: A Smart Strategy

Increasingly, organizations are relying on screening tests to improve their hiring and workforce development decisions. In fact, in a recent survey by Aberdeen Group, 49% of companies said they have an assessment strategy in place — up from only 40% in 2011.

Infographic - How to select assessments for employee screening

See Details: How To Choose Job Candidate Testing Tools

Melissa Hulsey, president and CEO of Ashton Staffing, explains that, with the correct type of test, employers can evaluate candidates effectively across multiple dimensions, including job skills, professional  knowledge and cultural fit. It’s even possible to make behavioral predictions and gain insight into core values.

“Properly constructed assessments look below the surface information presented by applicants to systematically predict which one will be the best hire for a position,” explains Dr. Charles Hanler, president of Rocket-Hire, a consultancy that helps improve organizational hiring practices. He compares the resume review and interview process to the tip of an iceberg. The bulk of an iceberg is what remains below the surface — what you can’t see and touch.

Choosing Applicant Assessments

It’s essential to choose the right type of assessment for your goals. Tests can produce a mind-numbing array of candidate metrics — personality, cognitive abilities, professional knowledge, work skills, physical and motor abilities, emotional intelligence, language proficiency, drug use and even values like integrity. Yet, when evaluations are properly applied, employers can more quickly and confidently identify candidates who are best qualified for open positions and most likely to succeed in the organization.

As the Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology explains, there are pros and cons to each of the many types of employment assessments. But before deciding how you’ll test candidates, it’s important to determine what kind of information matters most to you. Tests vary according to their mode of administration (web-based tools vs. paper and pencil), content focus (interpersonal skills, mathematical ability), level of standardization or structure, costs, administrative ease, and other factors.

Although there can be significant benefits from using tests in the employee selection process, there are also multiple issues to consider. In particular:

• Validity  Does the test actually measure the characteristic it is designed to measure? For example, does it actually predict future job performance or success?

• Reliability How consistently does a test measure the target characteristic? If an assessment tool isn’t highly reliable, it will be of little value in predicting a candidate’s future job performance. As with validity, a test’s reliability should be verified before it is administered.

• Legality Because employment tests are periodically challenged in court, employers must make sure assessments do not violate federal, state, or local EEO laws, including Title VII.

TYPES OF CANDIDATE TESTS

Assessment Centers Often used to assess interpersonal skills, communication skills, planning/organizing and analytical skills. Typically involves exercises that reflect job content and types of problems faced on the job.
Biographical Data Uses questions about education, training, work experience and interests to predict success on the job. 
Cognitive Ability Tests Assesses aptitude or potential to solve job-related problems by focusing on mental abilities such as verbal or mathematical reasoning, or perceptual abilities like speed in recognizing letters of the alphabet.  
Integrity Tests Assesses attitudes and experiences related to honesty, dependability, trustworthiness, reliability and pro-social behavior. 
Interviews The most common type of employment test. Typically assesses interpersonal skills, communication skills and teamwork skills, and can be used to assess job knowledge.
Job Knowledge Tests Typically uses multiple choice questions or essays to evaluate technical or professional expertise and knowledge required on the job.
Personality Tests Measures traits related to behavior at work, interpersonal interactions, and satisfaction with different aspects of work. 
Physical Ability Tests Uses tasks or exercises that determine ability to perform. Measures physical attributes and capabilities, such as strength, balance and speed.
Work Samples and Simulations Measures specific job skills or job knowledge, but can also assess general skills such as organizational, analytic and interpersonal skills.

How Do You Evaluate Job Applicants?

Do you use pre-employment tests to screen applicants before they’re hired? Has this been effective for your organization? How does this help or hinder your company’s candidate experience? Share your experience in the comment area.

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Your Corporate Culture: What's Inside?

“No company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”-Jack Welch

Jack Welch isn’t alone in this opinion. Many of today’s most successful business leaders agree — culture is a powerful force that can make or break a business.

So, what is this elusive culture thing, anyway?

It is a topic the TalentCulture community obviously takes seriously. (After all, it’s at the core of our identity.) But even among culture specialists, the concept isn’t easy to define. Perhaps it’s best to think of it as an experience — created and shaped by the collective values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors of your workforce.

You can’t necessarily “see” culture. But evidence of it is often easy to spot. Similarly, culture can’t be manufactured, manipulated or imposed upon employees. But without clarity, consistency and communication, it can rapidly erode.

Looking Closer Look at Corporate Culture

MIT Management Professor, Edgar Schein, presents culture as a series of assumptions people make about an organization. These assumptions occur at three levels — each is more difficult to articulate and change. Schein’s three-tier structure includes:

• Artifacts (Visible)
• Espoused Beliefs and Values (May appear through surveys or other narrative)
• Underlying Assumptions (Unconscious beliefs/values. Not visible; may be taken for granted)Culture 3 LevelsIllustration via Chad Renando

The Business Case for Culture: Zappos

In recent years, Zappos has become known for its deep commitment to culture as a competitive advantage. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, often speaks about the importance of workplace culture, and why it is his company’s chief priority. To understand Tony’s perspective, watch this brief video:

Below are Zappos’ “10 Commandments” — the core values that drive culture, brand and business strategies:

1) Deliver WOW through service
2) Embrace and drive change
3) Create fun and a little weirdness
4) Be adventurous, creative and open-minded
5) Pursue growth and learning
6) Build open and honest relationships with communication
7) Build a positive team and family spirit
8) Do more with less
9) Be passionate and determined
10) Be humble

What do you think of “commandments” like these? How does your organization articulate and reinforce cultural norms across your workforce? How effective are your efforts?

Beyond Zappos: 100 Great Company Cultures

Of course, Zappos is only one of many organizations that invest deeply in culture. Last week, Fortune Magazine offered 100 other examples in its 2014 “Best Companies to Work For” List, developed by Great Place to Work Institute.

Even before the list was revealed, Great Place to Work CEO, China Gorman, shared several key observations about the cultural characteristics that help great companies attract top talent.

And yesterday, China talked with us in greater detail about lessons learned — first in a #TChat Radio interview (hear the replay now), and then in a lively community-wide #TChat discussion on Twitter. (For a full recap of the week’s highlights and resource links, read: “Workplace Greatness: No Guarantees.”)

As the moderator of this week’s Twitter event, I’d like to thank the hundreds of professionals who literally contributed thousands of ideas about what makes organizations “tick.” Your input is always welcome — the more, the better. So let’s keep this conversation going…

Image Credit

Your Corporate Culture: What’s Inside?

“No company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”-Jack Welch

Jack Welch isn’t alone in this opinion. Many of today’s most successful business leaders agree — culture is a powerful force that can make or break a business.

So, what is this elusive culture thing, anyway?

It is a topic the TalentCulture community obviously takes seriously. (After all, it’s at the core of our identity.) But even among culture specialists, the concept isn’t easy to define. Perhaps it’s best to think of it as an experience — created and shaped by the collective values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors of your workforce.

You can’t necessarily “see” culture. But evidence of it is often easy to spot. Similarly, culture can’t be manufactured, manipulated or imposed upon employees. But without clarity, consistency and communication, it can rapidly erode.

Looking Closer Look at Corporate Culture

MIT Management Professor, Edgar Schein, presents culture as a series of assumptions people make about an organization. These assumptions occur at three levels — each is more difficult to articulate and change. Schein’s three-tier structure includes:

• Artifacts (Visible)
• Espoused Beliefs and Values (May appear through surveys or other narrative)
• Underlying Assumptions (Unconscious beliefs/values. Not visible; may be taken for granted)Culture 3 LevelsIllustration via Chad Renando

The Business Case for Culture: Zappos

In recent years, Zappos has become known for its deep commitment to culture as a competitive advantage. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, often speaks about the importance of workplace culture, and why it is his company’s chief priority. To understand Tony’s perspective, watch this brief video:

Below are Zappos’ “10 Commandments” — the core values that drive culture, brand and business strategies:

1) Deliver WOW through service
2) Embrace and drive change
3) Create fun and a little weirdness
4) Be adventurous, creative and open-minded
5) Pursue growth and learning
6) Build open and honest relationships with communication
7) Build a positive team and family spirit
8) Do more with less
9) Be passionate and determined
10) Be humble

What do you think of “commandments” like these? How does your organization articulate and reinforce cultural norms across your workforce? How effective are your efforts?

Beyond Zappos: 100 Great Company Cultures

Of course, Zappos is only one of many organizations that invest deeply in culture. Last week, Fortune Magazine offered 100 other examples in its 2014 “Best Companies to Work For” List, developed by Great Place to Work Institute.

Even before the list was revealed, Great Place to Work CEO, China Gorman, shared several key observations about the cultural characteristics that help great companies attract top talent.

And yesterday, China talked with us in greater detail about lessons learned — first in a #TChat Radio interview (hear the replay now), and then in a lively community-wide #TChat discussion on Twitter. (For a full recap of the week’s highlights and resource links, read: “Workplace Greatness: No Guarantees.”)

As the moderator of this week’s Twitter event, I’d like to thank the hundreds of professionals who literally contributed thousands of ideas about what makes organizations “tick.” Your input is always welcome — the more, the better. So let’s keep this conversation going…

Image Credit

What Can Swarms Teach Us About Teams?

You may not work in an emergency room — but your organization may want to function like one. As critical issues arise, the ability to quickly shift resources and refocus energy can have a keen impact on continued business success.

This kind of workforce agility helps organizations meet challenges swiftly and succinctly. Which begs the question: Is your organization ready for a work swarm?

Swarming: A Closer Look

Borrowed from the rhythms of nature, the notion of “swarming” to assemble a cross-functional or cross-departmental team, could be considered a key factor in an organization’s ability to develop and thrive. Gartner described a work swarm as a “flurry of collective activity” to deal with non-routine workplace problems or opportunities. (See that discussion here.) Without this option, organizations can fall short in their quest to respond to stressors (or opportunities) in quickly changing internal and external environments.

Developing an ability to swarm is just as much an orientation toward the work itself, as it is a problem solving technique. Swarming needs talent and skills to flow quickly toward projects, as it capitalizes upon an agile culture and a fluid talent stream. This requires a modern view of organizational boundaries and talent utilization. There are challenges to swarming — and the process may not prove appropriate for all organizations. However, it may be an interesting option to consider.

Putting Swarm Theory To Work

Here are some ideas to keep in mind:

1) Apply open-system theory. Work swarming requires talent to flow into the organization, as well as within its borders. Early structure theorists (See Katz & Kahn) discuss open-system theory. However, applications of that view seem more possible with the advent of relevant social networks.

2) Let internal structure flex. To enable swarming, the structure of an organization would need to become increasingly fluid. Talent within the organization would be allowed to cross functional lines more easily and routinely.

3) Seek diversity. Including a considerably wider range of knowledge bases when forming a team to problem solve is desired – as solutions can come unexpectedly, from a loosely “related” discipline or function. These sources can include suppliers and others in close proximity to core problems and customers.

4) Remember roles rule. Becoming crystal clear concerning the roles of team players is key. Role clarity can help focus more energy toward the actual content of the problem or issue – and help team members attack their portion of the task at hand more readily.

5) Utilize social platforms. Crowdsourcing platforms (both internally and externally focused) can be utilized to facilitate the problem solving process – where stubborn organizational challenges can be posted and exposed to greater numbers of potential contributors. (Learn more about Innocentive here.)

6) Curate talent communities. Building a pipeline of talent is imperative with swarming – but this should be developed in a manner that is meaningful. Mapping the skills and strengths of potential team players within relevant industries, becomes a critical goal. Furthermore, teaming applications can also help document the evolving skill sets of potential contributors.

Have you utilized swarming techniques to speed problem solving at your organization? If so, how well did it work?

(Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared as a LinkedIn Influencer post. It is republished with permission.)

Photo Credit: Pixabay