Best Practices in Talent Assessment

Best Practices in Talent Assessment

A Positioning Paper by Dan Harrison, Ph.D.

Talent Assessment

Talent Assessment is the most important task of any organisation. The quality of assessment ultimately determines the performance of new hires as well as the ability of the organisation to effectively develop employees. It affects every important aspect of the organisation’s success including management effectiveness, sales volume, customer retention and productivity. Assessment is not merely one of the functions of the Human Resource Department. It is the essential foundation for effective talent acquisition and talent management.

High quality assessment used at the point of hire enables you to have the greatest impact on performance and productivity in your organisation. High quality assessment of applicants during the recruitment process results in less time and money spent on training and developing employees. This enables management to focus on important strategic issues. Good assessment reduces training costs, minimises losses due to poor decisions, increases employee retention and can even provide a foundation for better teamwork.

Effective assessment also provides huge benefits for employee development. Assessing existing employees makes employee development much more efficient and effective. Good assessment can enable employees to clearly understand their performance in relationship to the job requirements. This can be a great boost to employee motivation. It can also provide managers with a means of pinpointing the development areas that will provide the greatest impact on performance. Harrison Assessments™ Talent Assessment System even goes a step further by providing managers and coaches with effective tools for encouraging and enlisting top performance as well as providing guidelines for developing specific job success behaviours. In addition, reports also help employees to better understand how to apply their strengths for their career development. These are key areas that promote talent retention and motivation.

Formulating the success factors for the specific job

The first challenge of effective assessment is to fully understand the job and formulate the success factors. Without a clear understanding of the job and the job success factors, assessment cannot be effective. It is essential to understand the tasks performed, the responsibilities, the key performance factors and the requirements you think relate to effective performance. The Harrison Assessments Talent Management System provides a comprehensive list of typical factors for each specific job as well as additional optional factors that can be included.

Assessing a person against job factors is much more challenging and much more complex than merely assessing a person. It is essential to determine the key success factors for the specific job, including how important each of those factors are in relationship to each other. In addition, it is essential to determine how having different levels of a job success factor affects the overall performance. This is a complex process requiring sophisticated calculations, which can best be achieved through extensive job research and computer technology.

There are two basic categories of job requirements: Eligibility and Suitability. Eligibility factors include previous experience, education, certifications, skills, abilities and reference checks. Suitability factors include attitude, motivation, integrity, interests, work preferences, fit with the company culture and fit with the manager.

Assessing Levels of Eligibility

Many organisations assess eligibility factors by setting minimum requirements. However, few organisations systematically formulate eligibility factors in order to score each applicant’s level of eligibility. It is not enough to ascertain that the applicant meets the minimum requirements. All that does is eliminate the people who don’t meet the requirements. It does nothing to assess the remaining people who do meet the requirements. Therefore, it is essential to quantify each candidate’s level of eligibility. This is the only way in which you can effectively compare candidates to each other and to integrate the eligibility score with the behavioural score.

First, you need to determine what the eligibility factors are. For example, you may require previous experience in the same job, previous experience doing similar tasks that the job requires, certain educational levels, or skills such as typing speed or the ability to use software packages. The HA Talent Management System enables you to select from a comprehensive list factors and then weight them according to how important they are.

Your next task is to score different levels of each factor. This is much more effective than just listing minimum level of requirements. For example, if you are looking for previous experience in the same job, and you set your minimum requirement for 2 years experience, you may want to score that factor in the following manner:

  • Less than 2 years – reject this candidate
  • 2 years – give 50% for this factor
  • 3 years – give 70% for this factor
  • 4 years – give 85% for this factor
  • 5+ years – give 100% for this factor

By using gradient scoring, you are able to quantify the person’s experience and obtain a score for each factor. By weighting the factors in relationship to each other, you are able to obtain an overall eligibility score.

Assessing Levels of Suitability

For most jobs, suitability factors are about 50% of the job success factors. Therefore, effectively measuring suitability is an essential part of assessment. However, suitability is much more difficult to measure than eligibility. The first challenge is to determine which suitability factors relate to job success for a particular job. However, even when that is determined, assessing job suitability accurately is unlikely unless you can determine how different levels of each suitability factor impacts job success. For example, you may determine that self-motivation is an important factor for job success for a particular job. But you still need to determine how detrimental or how beneficial each level of self-motivation. In some cases, the more the person has the better. However, for other jobs, a moderate level is enough. Each level of each factor needs to be scored according to its impact on performance. That is why Harrison Assessments contains significant previous research regarding suitability factors and their impact on performance for different job types and for different jobs. Without this, it is nearly impossible to assess behaviour effectively.

Suitability factors are behavioural and are much more difficult for people to change than eligibility factors. This makes it even more important to accurately assess behaviour during the recruitment process. Most organisations hire people for their eligibility and then try to develop their suitability. And in many cases fire them for their lack of suitability. Since behaviour is fundamentally more difficult to change than eligibility, it is better to hire people who already have the suitability for the job.

To illustrate different aspects of suitability, here are some examples of job behaviour factors that could be relevant to a specific job. These are just a small sample of more than one hundred important suitability factors that could relate to job success.

  • What types of things will an applicant or employee accomplish or put off?
  • What motivates them?
  • How will they communicate, influence and lead?
  • How well they can handle autonomy, freedom and responsibility?
  • How much initiative will they take?
  • How much will they persist when faced with obstacles?
  • How innovative will they be?
  • How much will they accept and respond appropriately to feedback?
  • To what degree will they become autocratic, dogmatic, dictatorial or controlling?
  • How much will they resist change and/or be rigid?
  • What behaviours will they exhibit under stress?
  • How much will they be blunt or harsh in their communications?
  • How much will they tend to be blindly optimistic, impulsive, illogical or easily influenced?
  • To what degree will they avoid difficult decisions?
  • How well will they organise and handle details?
  • How much will they be scattered or chaotic in their approach to projects or planning?
  • How much will they seek to learn, grow and excel?
  • What kind of recognition do they need?
  • As a leader, how well will they provide direction?
  • How well will they enforce policy and standards?
  • How likely are they to steal?
  • How well do they handle conflicts?
  • How reasonable will they be when assessing the value of their contributions to the company?

To read part two of our whitepaper about Job Behaviour factors click here

To find out more about Job Suitability click here.

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