Natasha Zimmerman –
Why do assessments matter when making selection decisions?


Why do assessments matter when making selection decisions?

Natasha Zimmerman

Author: Natasha Zimmerman

Matching the right people to the right roles matters, and in the current economic climate it is even more critical. The cost of making a ‘bad hire’ is not good for your business or your candidates. Now, more than ever, our clients are telling us they want to feel confident that they are making the right hiring decisions.

As much as we fancy ourselves as good judges of character, humans are notoriously bad at making objective, unbiased decisions. Following the 1938 diplomatic talks with Germany, Neville Chamberlain famously declared, “I believe it is peace for our time.” One year later, Hitler invaded Poland and World War II was launched. History can give us thousands (likely millions!) of other examples of our proclivity to use wrong or non-existent data to form conclusions.

Whether we’re addressing global conflict or making everyday organisational choices, sound decision-making matters. This is especially true when it comes to selection practices. Even the most experienced and open-minded hiring panel will make judgments that are informed by their own biased perspectives. (For example, we know from the research that you have the greatest chance of getting a job if you have no children, look healthy, and are tall). If you’ve been on either side of an interview process, you know that even at their best, they are rife with inequity: social desirability bias, the ‘halo/horn’ effect, an overemphasis of certain skills – all of which contribute to limited predictive validity for job performance.

In a recent leadership development programme I facilitated, we had a great discussion about conscious and unconscious bias. In a room of a dozen people, nearly everyone had a story: a friend who didn’t land a single interview until they anglicised their name on their CV; throwaway sexist comments that coworkers let slide again and again; clear assumptions about skill level based on an accent or country of origin.

So how do we get past our own bias? There’s no need to throw interviews out the window, but the use of sound assessment tools (such as reliable and valid cognitive and personality tests) can uncover talent the hiring panel will miss. Multi-measure tests that include personality and cognitive assessments have the highest predictive validity of any selection method, and recent research suggests that more than half of candidates prefer a hiring process that includes skills-based assessments.

Dan Ariely reminds us that, “Even the most analytical thinkers are predictably irrational; the really smart ones acknowledge and address their irrationalities.” If you’re keen to reign in some irrationalities and maximise your selection processes, and increase the likelihood of hiring the ‘right candidate’, give us a bell – we’d love to chat about how our assessment tools can work for you and your candidates.



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