Using Assessments to Improve Selection and Development

At some point, most organizations realize that there is no shortage of applicants for the positions they need to fill; but rather a shortage of the specific skills and capabilities they need to grow their business. Good talent is still hard to find and even harder to place in the right roles for growth in the organization.   

The problem of finding, selecting, and developing good talent has only been exacerbated over these past few years as unemployment rates have hovered at historically high levels. The result has been an overwhelming number of candidates in the job market—those who are unemployed and those who are worried about becoming so. Given these circumstances, employers have increasingly turned to assessments to make better selection decisions and to better develop the talent they have and hope to keep.   

Many best-in-class organizations use validated assessments in the pre-hire stage of the selection process. Experts have found that companies outside the United States have a higher level of confidence in their selection decisions than those within the United States. Those organizations have focused on implementing a ‘system’ to eliminate bias and take the pressure off hiring managers. That system often uses a combination of assessments such as knowledge tests, personality inventories, and job simulations in addition to a structured interview process. Such a systematic approach provides these companies with more comprehensive profiles of candidates, leading to more informed decisions and fewer mistakes. Companies in the United States tend to rely mostly on the interviewing judgment of managers and more often utilize only a single assessment.   

Best-in-class companies also use assessments to focus their individual and collective development strategies. Specific assessments can be used to target the development needs of key talent. Some organizations use specific tools or instruments that gather feedback on-line. Others allow outside coaches to interview individuals selected to provide feedback. Each has its place depending on the organization, its culture, and the needs surrounding the situation.

New and innovative assessments are developed all the time. One example is The Advisor, a 360 instrument designed by the Leadership Research Institute to measure executive emotional intelligence. More specifically, The Advisor identifies the abilities of executives to “read” people (including themselves) and situations, and then “lead” those people and situations. Naturally, it also covers blind spots, hidden strengths, leadership effectiveness, development challenges, and behavioral perceptions. Like most instruments of this kind, it is strong on the comparison between self-perception and the perception of others.

The Advisor is an effective instrument to help organizations identify behaviors that need to be sustained, those that need to stop, and those that need to be added. In positions of high leverage, like leadership and executive positions, slight improvements in attitude, behavior and situational awareness can have a much larger positive impact in the organization, especially on the morale and productivity of other employees. 

Armed with the additional information that assessments like The Advisor can provide, companies can reap substantial benefits, including financial improvements, from making far better selection and development decisions. After all, what would be the impact - financially and organizationally - of having an ‘A’ player in a key role supporting a critical business strategy versus someone who is merely average or even a mismatch in the role? Assessments then help companies improve the return on their investment in people. The key is to find those that best fit your company’s needs.

What assessments do you find most helpful in the selection and development of talent in your organization?

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  1. Erica Kroger's avatar
    Erica Kroger
    | Permalink
    Good article - Assessments are certainly most useful in providing an objective, unbiased view of a candidate or in uncovering specific skills.

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