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VANCOUVER, British Columbia—Pre-employment testing should measure whether a candidate can think critically and is willing to learn on the job, psychology experts said recently at the Human Resources Management Association (HRMA) Conference and Tradeshow 2015.
Jane Gayton, Ph.D., a registered psychologist with Stefan, Fraser and Associates in Vancouver, told attendees that the best hires are those who possess these can-do attributes: intelligence, critical thinking, numeric reasoning and emotional intelligence, or the potential to get along with co-workers.
“HR needs to hire people to carry out the organization’s vision,” Gayton added. “This demonstrates the value of HR.”
Larry Stefan, Ph.D., president of Stefan, Fraser and Associates, said pre-hire tests have exploded on the Internet since the early 2000s but most are not effective.
“It’s difficult to hire new people, and if [a company] makes a mistake, it’s costly,” Stefan added. “HR plays an enormous role for improving the bottom line in an organization.”
If a subpar employee must be terminated, that action may cost a business the equivalent of a year’s worth of the person’s salary, he explained.
Bjorn Leiren, Ph.D., a registered psychologist with Stefan, Fraser and Associates, stated that companies get a return on investment when they hire the right people. According to the Society for Human Resource Management Compensation Data Center, organizations make around $4,000 every year from each employee who earns a $60,000 annual salary.
To Test or Assess?
Human resource professionals should be aware of the difference between an assessment and a test, Gayton noted.
An assessment is a process of determining whether a candidate is the right fit; this may involve HR and a hiring team administering multiple tests or conducting several interviews when determining who to hire, she explained. A test, on the other hand, is merely one part of that selection process.
Gayton said HR might tap into psychometric tests during the recruiting process to determine:
HR practitioners may use comprehensive assessments when hiring for management or technical positions, Gayton stated. “It’s really important to get this hire right,” she added. “It’s more time-consuming; more tests are used, and it’s more labor intensive.”
Measures of Success
Gayton advised HR departments to consider the following questions before implementing a companywide testing policy:
Gayton noted that it is imperative for HR to deliver a respectful experience when evaluating candidates. “As social media becomes more prevalent in our lives, people feel good when they feel companies have treated them well,” she said.
Catherine Skrzypinski is a freelance writer based in Vancouver.
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