Sunday, February 17, 2013

How good is your gut feel?

Everyone thinks they can spot ‘the one’ when it comes to the perfect employee. But sometimes it doesn’t work out. There are some simple measures you can take to back your gut feel.

A client of mine has a small but growing IT consulting business. I recruited his 3rd employee 9 months ago and we are now working on his 7th employee. Last month, he let an employee go after 3 weeks in the role. The interview process went well and the referee report checked out too. The bit that didn’t check out was the employee’s technical skills. Verbally, they were ticked off, but they were non-existent in reality. The employee had secured a role that was punching way above her weight, when in fact, my client needed someone who was equipped with a specific knowledge base and could learn quickly on the job.

My client is lovely. He wants candidates to feel comfortable and at ease during the interview. But at some point, the hard questions have to kick in. There needs to be more rigor in the recruitment process. 

Skills assessments can provide a more practical insight into the candidate’s knowledge of a particular topic and their aptitude. The key to this type of testing is to make the tests simple, practical and clear.

Methods of assessment can include:
•    Demonstration of techniques (testing thought process and ability)
•    Verbal (testing communication and ability)
•    Written (testing writing skills and ability)

For my client, they should consider three different assessments that test the basic knowledge and requirements of the candidate. For example:

•    You may wish to test the candidate on their experience with administration and support of windows, desktops and servers. Consider three typical scenarios and ask the candidate what they would do – or there might be an opportunity for the candidate to demonstrate their knowledge on a laptop.

•    You may consider a test for a specific programming language. You could devise 3 questions that require a written answer. This question will test their technical ability and writing skills.

These skills assessments may take 20 minutes in total.

The assessments should be outlined in a word document with specific instructions.

Another form of testing is an online cognitive ability test. Cognitive ability tests (aptitude tests, general intelligence assessments) are one of the most powerful predictors of future work performance. Cognitive ability tests measure verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning and the resulting score reflects the person's ability to acquire, retain, organise and apply information. Visit or to access simple and effective tests for candidates who have been shortlisted.  These tests can be conducted from the candidate’s home computer. The results and then formulated and provided in a detailed report.

These tests are certainly useful. However, I would encourage you to perform your own specific workplace assessments to get a handle on communication and written skills as well.

If you require cost effective recruitment assistance for your business, get in touch for a chat.

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