Placing a job advert and receiving applications is only one small part of the recruitment process. But what about when your advert comes to a close and you’re faced with a host of potential prospects – where do you start?
Of course, just because someone looks good on paper, it does not mean they will be a good fit for your company. Consider these two potential prospects:
The first has the relevant qualifications for the job, but not a whole lot of experience. However, they display the kind of attributes you’re looking for in an employee — such as a willingness to learn — and they understand your company’s ethos and long-term goals.
The second applicant, on the other hand, has worked in the industry for years and has a wealth of experience. However, in the interview they made a comment that they left their last position because of disagreements with other members of staff. Could it be a justifiable, innocent conflict? or evidence that your prospect doesn’t get along with others?
So who would you choose? Ideally, all companies would love to find an employee that ticks all the boxes, but in reality recruiters have to make these decisions every day. When faced with tough choices, there are tips and tools employers can use to assess whether their prospect has the mindset to succeed in their new workplace. Employee retention is an important statistic that impacts your company’s reputation, making it vital to retain employees for as much time as possible. While it may be that many employees turn out to be wrong for the job, and either you have to let them go or they choose to leave, it could be easily interpreted that your company isn’t the best place to work. Even if that’s not the case.
Psychometric tests are used to help identify a candidate’s knowledge, skills and personality traits. There are two main types of these tests: personality and aptitude — though they may be a combination of the two. These may occur during the preliminary stage, in order to weed out all but the highest performing applicants, or during an assessment centre, which we’ll look at more closely later on. Psychometric tests are a useful way of determining if a candidate is right for your company.
Personality tests explore potential employees’ values and motivations. They allow you to offer scenarios and ask prospects to explain how they’d react. They’re good for gaining a sense of an individual’s thought processes and likely behaviour in a situation they may find themselves in.
Aptitude tests measure aspects of numerical reasoning and cognitive ability. This type of test is less focused on behavioural traits and values, but rather on whether a candidate has the skill set for the role.
Asda are a good example of a large company who use psychometrics in their recruitment process. They ask candidates multiple choice questions assessing their ability to interact with customers, such as how they’d react if a customer asked them for help while they were operating the tills, or if a customer was getting aggressive over their quality of service.
The aptitude part of the test is akin to numeracy and literacy skills tests, such as those that trainee teachers are required to pass. These ask candidates to interpret information — such as a graph or a paragraph of text — and answer questions. These questions could be anything from finding the answer to a numerical problem to comprehending whether a statement is correct.
Assessment centres are a brilliant way of reducing a pool of top-level candidates. They allow recruiters to perform a much more intensive set of tests, including interviews, presentations and group tasks. These are meant to inform you as to how a prospect interacts with others. If customer service plays a huge role in the position you’re recruiting for, it’s crucial that you hire someone who is able to relate well to others. Hosting an assessment centre event can be costly and time-consuming – you’ll likely have a large pool of candidates and will need several HR staff to conduct interviews and score prospects on tasks.
If you’re a more relaxed employer, you may not want to conduct an event at all. This is completely fine, and doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to hire top talent for your company.
While assessment centres can be incredibly helpful, many candidates will be nervous — as they would be at any interview. If your prospects are suffering from the jitters, you might not have a completely accurate representation of how they’d behave once employed.
Workplace culture, cultural fit, or any one of its variations have become buzz phrases that are thrown around a lot. It’s crucial to explain what these types of buzz phrases mean if used in interview questions, as while you may know what they mean your applicants might not.
Culture is based around the idea that if you create a happy workplace, your staff will be more productive and be able to create more business. And with more business, comes more money.
But What If You Don’t Even Know What Your ‘Culture’ Is?
Workplace culture is essentially a cumulative phrase for everything your business is – your company mission and your values. Obviously, you’ll want to employ someone who shares the same values as you and who is aligned with your company. Otherwise, it could be disastrous for you both. You must remember, there is no right or wrong culture, only what works for you and your employees.
Some companies like to cultivate a pleasant atmosphere by offering regular team trips or training exercises to enhance morale between employees. If an employee gets on with their colleagues, they’re more likely to be happier and you, or your HR team, won’t have to deal with office politics. If your staff share the same values, as a team you’re going to be more successful.
Let’s use an example. Say you’re a marketing company whose mission is to provide a dedicated, expert service to their clients. Clearly, you’re going to want to ensure that your staff are passionate about what they do. If a candidate hates regular phone calls and isn’t diplomatic – or just don’t like people at all — they probably aren’t going to be a great fit. If your company thrives on every member collaborating and cultivates a relaxed, yet hardworking environment, hiring someone who has spent years working in a corporate environment as a strict leader might hinder, more than help, your company’s efforts. Again, personality tests may be useful in this instance, but a lot can be said about the first impressions you get from a prospect.
The Good Old Fashioned Interview
For all the benefits of psychometric testing and clearly stating what your company stands for, you can never beat a classic interview. Impressions count for a lot, and interviews give you the opportunity to ask multiple questions and see how a person reacts. Sometimes, you can get a good feeling about a prospect simply from the way they carry themselves, the confidence they exude and how eloquent they are when put on the spot. These are things that can only be measured face to face.
You can easily gauge a person’s experience and skills in an interview, but there’s no reason you can’t get a sense of their personality, too. Consider asking questions such as:
What Don’t You Like at Work?
This one allows you to gauge whether a person will get on with your other employees. If they go on about how they dislike the way something is done at their old (or current) workplace, it’s not only unprofessional, but could indicate they’re not good at working with others or are not assertive enough to use their initiative and give their opinion.
What Do You Want from Life?
This is a real insight into what makes a person tick. Are they ambitious and driven, or do they just see their potential new job as a way to make money, that they have no invested interest in? If a person seeks progression and their ideal career sees them staying with one company for a significant time, and you offer opportunities and incentives for dedicated and hard workers, you may be a perfect fit for each other!
What Have You Done That You’re Proud Of?
This is another great question that allows you to probe how a candidate gets their sense of worth. Are they more proud of material gains, such as earning a pay rise from their promotion, or are they more proud of the fact that they’ve worked hard to earn their promotion, which has enabled them to help more people? It may be that their greatest achievement lies outside of their workplace, such as travelling the world or bringing up their children, which can still give great insight into their personality.
Taking on a new employee is a huge risk, and for all the preparations you make, you can’t be certain how they’re going to cope in their new environment until after they start. But by taking as many steps as possible – such as carefully preparing interview questions that allow you to really get to know your candidates – you’ll have a much better chance of things working out.
Don’t forget, recruitment is a two-way process. Whether you use psychometric testing or an old fashioned interview, it’s just as much for you to determine whether they’re right for you, as it is for them to determine whether you’re right for them. If just one of these is off, the result could be a less than ideal working relationship. By hiring someone who genuinely agrees with your values and who you believe has the skills for the job — or at least the ability to learn them — you’ll ensure you have a quality team of staff working to make your business the best it can be.
Author Bio:Raj Mistry is a partner at Top Suffolk Jobs, a jobs board dedicated to helping recruiters and jobseekers in Suffolk. Having worked in the corporate world for over 30 years, he was involved in recruiting people both internally and externally. This brought challenges of finding out how individuals learn, identifying their strengths and developing their potential. After leaving the corporate world in 2014 he set up his own business managing property which he runs with his wife and has recently set up an internet marketing company.