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Gaining Management Acceptance for Assessment Tools

by John Miraglia

This spring over Easter dinner, I was told by a highly successful, MBA grad from an Ivy League university that he could tell, without a doubt, whether a candidate was right for a job in 5 minutes flat. Perhaps he could. After all, Babe Ruth could hit 60 home runs while breaking every training rule in the book.

AssessmentUnfortunately, few of us are the recruiting equivalents of Babe Ruth. We need all the help we can get to accurately assess and select the best candidates for our jobs. But, how can we convince the would be Babe Ruth’s that there is a better (read: more valid, reliable, legally defensible and fairer) way to assess candidates?

My experience, working as both an external and internal consultant in candidate assessment, points to 3 important factors in gaining assessment tool acceptance:

  1. Assessment Fidelity, how close the assessment looks like the job, is assessment‘s secret weapon. It not only has a stronger track record in prediction of success for most jobs, but more easily gains acceptance from hiring managers and candidates alike. They “get it” because they can readily see and experience the job through the assessment process. Fidelity enhances the candidate experience.
  2. Have a Champion, Mid-way through a recent assessment project, we lost our executive champion. At that point we needed to re-sell the project and find a new champion. We didn’t; leading to acceptance challenges. Lesson learned. Visible leadership endorsement is a must.
  3. Ease of Use impacts  2 audiences: candidates and hiring managers. Hard to find candidates may not always be willing to take your best thought out assessment tools (though fidelity helps a lot here too). This in turn can lead to hiring managers blaming the tool for sourcing problems. Recruiters need to have a clear candidate message to convert those sourced into applicants. Know the organizational culture you’re working with. Are hiring managers and candidates patient, analytic and detail oriented or, fast paced, go with the gut types? Tailor your tool to meet your audiences’ appetite and realistically balance assessment style and time against tool acceptance.

A valid tool with strong psychometric properties and eye popping utility numbers is still only as good as management’s willing acceptance of it. The key to assessment success goes beyond validity. It is achieved by gaining the support of hiring managers through fidelity, a visible champion and making it easy to use.

Administrator's Note:

John Miraglia is our first external contributor to the blog, a former client, and professional colleague. He has worked on the implementation of the Virtual Job Tryout for professional positions in the financial services industry. His insight and experience on implementing assessment is highly valued.