When it comes to hiring the right person for the job, whether it’s customer service, installation and repair, etc., some contractors just fill slots while others find people who are effective in their work and contribute to the overall success of the company. Why have some companies been better at dramatically reducing costly hiring mistakes and — ultimately — turnover? What’s the real secret to successful hiring?

The secret lies in developing a hiring system that works. A system that works is not long and complicated, but rather succinct and effective. In this article, I will describe one way you can reduce turnover and costly hiring mistakes — the assessment screening tool.

It’s been said that the three requirements for a good hire are knowledge, skills, and personal attributes (or behavioral style and motivation). Typically, a candidate’s knowledge of your business and/or work-related skills are considered by hiring authorities as the key factors to potential success on the job. While these are all important factors, I believe that motivation, temperament, and approach to the job are ultimately the driving factors to a successful hire.

Assessing Personal Attributes

Understanding a person’s behavioral type is vital to understanding how he or she will perform and relate to your company’s internal and external customers, and how training and development programs may need to be designed. In fact, this is true for any position, whether it is management, outside sales, inside sales, clerical, or semi-skilled positions. So the smart contractor will try to understand a candidate’s motivation and approach to the job before making the hire.

Let’s take one example. Hiring installation and repair technicians can be a difficult process. They are your income generators — and you can live or die by the quality, timeliness, and productivity of the work they perform. They may all come to you with industry-related experience, but how do you level the playing field to figure out whether they are a good hire or not? You are surely looking for someone who is self-motivated and who additionally possesses attributes such as a suitable work ethic, honesty, integrity, and the ability to take direction and accept supervision.

Now the big question, of course, is how to confirm that they actually possess these characteristics. The even greater question is: Will they apply their work-related skills and attributes on a steady and consistent basis? So the ultimate question becomes: How can you differentiate between those who will be successful and those who will eventually have to leave — resulting in a costly, and maybe even devastating, mistake?

The answer is professional assessment screening tools (sometimes called assessment instruments) that are used by many successful hiring authorities, including professional recruiters and human resource professionals. As one of our clients recently stated, “You have to look into people, as well as at them, to optimize your ability to place the right person in the right job. These assessment instruments have provided a value-added tool by assisting us in hiring only the most motivated candidates that are best suited to the job. They highlight those who require minimal supervision, provide training insight, and also help us to enhance their performance.”

The use of an assessment tool as part of your new hiring system makes it imperative that you know what is important (which key personal attributes you are looking for) in selecting a new hire.

Assessment Tools

Today, there are a variety of prominent pre-hire and post-hire assessment tools available in the marketplace. Most take only a short time for the candidate to complete (some as little as 10 minutes). Some are better than others, but they all have one thing in common — they go a step further than the typical interview questions, resumes, and reference checks that often look good and just as often do not reveal all you need to know. As a result, these tools take much of the potentially erroneous subjectivity out of the hiring decision process.

The concept behind these assessment tools is to compare the candidate against successful people in the same type of job, using statistically validated job-specific comparative databases. The best assessment tools have similar characteristics, including the following:

• Allow you to provide input as to your own specific job criteria (what is important to you?), e.g., people skills required, maybe even selling skills.

• Provide clear job suitability ratings and an alert when an applicant is a mismatch to the job.

• Provide detailed training recommendations to ensure a high level of productivity.

• Are at least 98 percent accurate.

• Screen out asocial candidates, such as those who are not motivated, lack a high degree of work ethic, and will not respond positively to supervision.

• Are available in other languages, if necessary.

• Can be administered online through the Internet.

Remember: You must understand each candidate’s motivation and approach to the job before making the hire. So consider including an assessment tool as a new value-added component in your hiring system that can provide a definite return on investment. It will help you hire only those people best suited to the job and who, once hired, can reach peak levels of performance and productivity in record time.

Publication date: 10/10/2011