Meet John Henry.[1] As he completes his 100th application (that’s not a typo) to yet another company in search for a job. His frustration bubbles up inside him. Reflecting on all the changes his resume coach suggested he make, he resigned to use Jobscan to get his resume “just right,” hoping to get past the company installed ATS. After all, with the US unemployment level now at a 50 year low; why can’t he get traction after making all these changes? It’s not for a lack of effort. He has reached out to recruiters, friends, family, and even cold-called local businesses for an informational interview. He feels dejected and hopeless.

For most employers, John would be a stand-out candidate but not in this tight talent market. The volume of applications is overwhelming. Outsourced recruiters cannot keep up. John has a BA in psychology and an MBA from an accredited university out west. John has years’ experience as a salesperson, and he feels very qualified for the sales director role at this mid-sized distributor, Lucas Brothers[2]. After he hits send on his cover letter and resume, the company confirmed receipt with a ping in his inbox.

John thought, “I have been here before; I’ll bet that’s the last time I hear from them.”

One day later, the company asked John to return to their website for a behavioral assessment. John completed it in 15 minutes. His score got the attention of management, who invited John to join in on a video interview. A few days later, he was invited in for a face to face interview. John was hired on the spot.

What’s so unusual about this story?

It was the assessment that made the difference. John’s tendencies, attitude, and motivational behaviors reveal qualities not listed on his resume. If they were, who would pay attention? It was the soft skills, attributes, and critical behaviors that moved John to the top of the candidate selection pool. Perhaps it was his never-give-up attitude developed growing up. John was one of six children born to a single mom in the projects in North Philadelphia. He completed college and held positions with increasing responsibility. His life experiences contributed to critical behaviors like ambition and drive, process control, problem-solving, and control & close to his success in sales.

Other attributes where John scored well were assertiveness, conflict management, goal orientation, initiative, self-responsibility, and listening.  These are, in part, fundamental predictors of success in sales management. All of these behaviors were identified by the assessment tool as predictors of success. Not one of these attribute of John’s would have been uncovered in an interview or could be teased from his resume, or from speaking with past employers, too fearful of litigation. Without the assessment tool, John was on his way to be disappointed yet again for the 100th time. Except for the enlightened talent manager at Lucas, who uncovered some very compelling behaviors in John. The assessment also highlighted interview questions and populated development tasks for John to complete on the job as he is being considered for more responsibilities. This is an essential activity most hiring managers overlook.

So what did we learn here?

The assessment was able to identify John as a candidate with behaviors who will be most likely to succeed in this position — a diamond in the rough, as it were. Without the assessment, John would have been passed over. An accompanied benefit are the skills development piece that rides along with his appraisal.

That doesn’t mean management needs to throw John into the “deep end” to struggle and fail to see if he survives (some onboarding practices do just that.) No, instead, management wanted to give John all the tools, training, and skills he needed to help John succeed in this role for a long time. A novel idea in the hiring process today…give their staff the tools required to succeed. They view John in the light of a future executive, perhaps as a future CEO.

How can you use assessments?

  1. Get to know the candidate
  2. Screen faster
  3. Increase objectivity and decrease unconscious bias
  4. Recognize potential
  5. Raise some concerns
  6. Reduce turnover
  7. Increase productivity
  8. Avoid costly mistakes

If you don’t currently use assessments, click on this link for my “The Top 5 Resources for Hiring Great Employees.” If you would like to learn more about assessments, schedule time with me.

I have hired employees around the world for 30 years, and currently write a hiring best practices newsletter. Interested? Subscribe for free!
[1] John Henry is a pseudonym
[2] Lucas Brothers does not exist