Sunday, December 1, 2013

Is a job interview enough?

Psychometric testing is an interesting topic when it comes to recruitment – you either love it or hate it. I sit on the fence with it. Sometimes it can be useful as one of many indicators to assist in deciding on the best candidate.

Recently, I worked with a client to recruit for a few senior roles. One of these tests we utilised was an emotional intelligence test. Management roles involve managing multiple staff, so this type of testing can provide employers with interesting feedback. If you are wondering what emotional intelligence testing can tell you, the provider’s website provides you with the following summary:

“Emotional intelligence (EI or EQ) refers to a person’s capacity to effectively reason about emotions and to use emotions to enhance thought and solve problems.

Individuals with high levels of emotional intelligence (EI) are generally better able to perceive, identify and manage emotions in themselves and others, making them more effective at achieving goals when emotional based information is important.  This is particularly important in activities involving team work, dealing with others on a one-on-one basis and displaying leadership behaviours.”

After shortlisting 3 candidates, we then sent this online test to each person to complete within 48 hours from their home computer. The interview panel where then able to assess the results before the interview.  More specific questions relating to their results where then asked during the interview to get more of an understanding of their management style. From my experience so far, the results have proven to be reasonably accurate.

There are also skills tests (as opposed to Psychometric tests) that employers can tap into. I have a few IT clients so the skills tests are a great way to test a candidate’s general understanding of programming languages such as C++. There are also cognitive ability tests that measure verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning.  This is an important skill to have for budding programmers.

And then there are the simple tests that don’t require any form of Psychometric or cognitive ability testing. For example, if you are looking to recruit for a Reception role, set up a test that involves the candidate receiving a phone call and taking a message. The purpose of the test is to see if the candidate is able to properly record a phone message. The results will sometimes surprise you.

Practical and formal testing can assist you in making a more informed choice. If you stick to ‘What are your strengths and weaknesses’ and ‘who would you invite to dinner’ style questions only, you may find yourself performance managing your new recruit within the first month.

When employees behave badly

I work with a business whose employees are offsite on a regular basis conducting training. The employees are regularly told (verbally) that they should not drink with clients, have sex with clients, or behave in any other inappropriate way. In a nut shell, respect who you work for, respect yourselves, and respect the people you are serving. 

Recently, this verbal policy was violated and the consequences were dire – the employee was given her marching orders.

The aftermath of this recent work trip has been to implement a more formal process in making employees more accountable for their actions. A verbal checklist of ‘what not to do’ has now morphed into a Code of Conduct  or Standards of behaviour that employees must sign before going away on a work trip.  

It covers general etiquette or behaviours that staff and contractors are expected to demonstrate. Some of these include: 

•I will not discuss confidential client issues with, or in the presence of, clients or visitors;
•    I will speak at an appropriate voice level;
•    I will use language that reflects my professionalism and commitment to good service;
•    I will treat co-workers with respect;

It then comments on unacceptable behaviours or standards that must be strictly adhered to by all staff and contractors while working offsite. Some of these include:

•    No drinking / no intoxication;
•    No sexual relations with clients or other staff members unless in a demonstrated pre-existing ongoing relationship;
•    No drug use;

The critical bit comes at the end. It comes back to the critical issues and accountability and penalties if the standards of behaviour are ignored. It ends with the following:

‘My signature below indicates that I understand what is required of me when working for x. I understand that there may be further action such as a written warning or termination of my employment/contract if I do not comply with the above standards of behaviour.’

The employee is expected to sign and date the contract.

With Christmas fast approaching, A Code of Conduct may be appropriate to guard against repeat offenders at the Christmas party. Food for thought!