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You Deserve Better: The Value of Change

by Jen Wason

Many recruiters are familiar with the strain of too many candidates to screen and too many positions to fill. Science-based assessment can provide relief from time-to-fill pressures by providing faster access to better candidates, HR authority Andy Passen explains, promoting sound selection science as the best foundation for easier and better hiring outcomes over the long term.

Passen is former executive vice president of human resources at Forest City Realty Trust, a Cleveland-based property management and development company with more than $1 billion in annual revenue. His professional I-O experience also includes more than three decades as a consultant advising companies across the US and Europe in executive selection, training, and management. At Forest City, Passen led the transformation of the company’s personnel department into a full-fledged human resources division.

Well-crafted assessment tools allow you to focus on a smaller, higher-quality candidate pool—which means fewer phone screens, lower interview-to-hire ratios, and faster time-to-fill rates, Passen contends. Realistic job previews can educate candidates about what to expect on the job, providing an opportunity for the candidate to opt out of the process and spare themselves and your business the waste of time and effort of placing someone into a job they don’t want or are unlikely to be good at.

Pre-employment evaluation that narrows the candidate pool, identifies better candidates faster, and results in an overall increase in quality of hire and new-hire performance bring big impact and lasting change. “Over the long haul, you’re reducing turnover and increasing productivity,” Passen says. The best hire the first time means fewer positions to fill and reduced, more focused recruiting effort over time.

Combining robust assessment technology and predictive analytics with your own hiring expertise and judgment makes sense not only because it gives you a more direct line to the best candidates, he reasons, but because, as someone tasked with driving business success through effective hiring, “you deserve better.”

Selecting science

Passen’s years on both sides of the talent acquisition equation have made him resolute about the essential value of selection science to quality of hire.

“There’s nothing more important than selection,” he affirms. “You can train people, but they have to start with the right stuff.” And finding the right stuff starts with establishing hiring criteria and measuring potential with valid assessment tools.

Businesses use assessments because they want better new-hire performance. I-Os know that well-designed tests used properly are predictive of performance, Passen says, reminding that “there is plenty of science, plenty of evidence” that choosing the right tool can fundamentally improve your hiring outcomes.

“You use testing to get a better hire. Period.”

Choosing wisely

Promoting the value of an assessment tool means choosing an appropriate, scientifically valid one in the first place.
“Beware of bright, shiny objects,” Passen cautions, urging discernment when wading through the surge of new talent assessment tools on the market.

“With all the tech out there, the world of assessment is in for a big change,” he says, recommending caution in the face of slick multicolor brochures featuring novel gamification and other superficial claims for improving talent assessment. Clever marketing and fun-looking technology can be compelling, but, he says, you must constantly ask, “What’s real and meaningful? What’s good science?”

Innovation in talent assessment is desirable, but insist on validity and reliability, he continues. Resist being more attracted to the novelty of a solution than its scientific defensibility. The quality of the test remains its most consequential characteristic, Passen says, and that means ensuring you’re measuring the right things in the right way.

A high-quality assessment tool offers more than just finding relationships between any vast number of variables; it provides meaningful, valid predictions of performance. Ensure your assessment provider can document the return on your investment, that it delivers what it promises.

Choosing a tool backed by deep science—not just an artful marketing strategy—will be the most meaningful way to improve your hiring routines.

So pay close attention to any potential partner’s ability to back up what they market with valid science, Passen advises. “You want an assessment provider with more scientists than sales people.”